Source: . Credit: Kylir Horton,  Shot on 2012-09-09 Photo taken in Wyoming, United States. (c) Kylir Horton, licensed under: CC BY 2.0.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Tetons_(8643452888).jpg. Credit: Kylir Horton, Shot on 2012-09-09 Photo taken in Wyoming, United States. (c) Kylir Horton, licensed under: CC BY 2.0.

The Rocky Mountains, or shorter "Rockies" are a vast mountain system in Western North America, extending from Canada to New Mexico. There are over twenty principle ranges that comprise the Rockies. Best known of them among climbers are Canadian Rockies, Tetons in Wyoming and Front Range of Colorado. The highest peaks of Rockies are located in various ranges of Colorado, particularly in Southern Rockies, with number of peaks well above 4000m culminating at Mount Elbert (4401m). Most of Colorado Rockies are not particularly steep and getting to the top of them them doesn't require any climbing. Canadian Rockies are somewhat lower culminating at Mount Robson (3954m). Differing from their Colorado Rockies, Canadian Rockies in general are far steeper and very alpine in nature. There are several national parks of both sides of the border.

  • Canadian Rockies Rugged, remote, and heavily glaciated Rockies are Canada's most well known mountains. They are also the highest mountains in Canada south of Yukon. The Canadian Rockies run along the British Columbia-Alberta border, mainly on Alberta side, from the Northwest Territories through into the US. They are located to the east (inland) of Canadian Coast Range and Columbian mountains.
  • Northern Rocky Mountains Northern Rocky Mountains consists of mountain ranges located in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. The highest part of the Northern Rocky Mountains is the southernmost main group, Greater Yellowstone Rockies where few peaks rise above 4000m culminating at Gannett Peak (4209m). However, by far the most famous climbing destination is somewhat lower Tetons Range.
  • Western Rocky Mountains Western Rocky Mountains consists of ranges located to the east of Salt lake City and west of Southern Rocky Mountains. The highest peak of the range is Kings Peak (4120m) on Uinta range.
  • Southern Rocky Mountains Southern Rocky Mountains are located mostly in Colorado, with some parts extending to southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Wyoming, northern portion of New Mexico, and extreme eastern portions of Utah. The Southern Rockies include the highest mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains with 54 summits over 14 000 feet (4267m), including all 30 of the highest peaks of the Rockies. Most fourteeners are easy climbs, often just hikes. Only about ten or so, including those in the Crestone area in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Wilsons in the San Juans, and summits in the Elk Mountains, require anything more than walking to gain the summit. Colorado has world class water ice climbs in the Boulder area as well as Vail, Aspen, Summit County, and Ouray.

Northern Rocky Mountains

Northern Rocky Mountains consists of mountain ranges located in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. The highest part of the Northern Rocky Mountains is the southernmost main group, Greater Yellowstone Rockies where few peaks rise above 4000m culminating at Gannett Peak (4209m). However, by far the most famous climbing destination is somewhat lower Tetons Range.

June - September is generally considered the best summer climbing season. May and early June is best time for early season ice routes. Wintyer is snowy and very cold.

  • Idaho-Bitterroot Rocky Mountains Located East and NE of Boise, to the west of Central Montana Rocky Mountains. The highest peak is Diamond Peak (3719m).
    • Clearwater Mountains
    • Bitterroot Range
    • Salmon River Mountains
    • Sawtooth-Ketchum-Boise Area
    • Lost River-Lemhi Ranges
  • Central Montana Rocky Mountains Crazy Peak (3418m)
  • Greater Yellowstone Rockies The highest part of the Northern Rocky Mountains is the southernmost main group, Greater Yellowstone Rockies where few peaks rise above 4000m culminating at Gannett Peak (4209m) of Wind River Range. Main climbing destination of the entire northern Rockies is compact Tetons Range. During the winter the areas around Cody, such as South Fork, count among the premiere ice climbing venues of the country.
    • Teton Range-Yellowstone Area Located in Wyoming, approximately 50 miles south of Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park hosts one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in the lower 48. The Grand Teton (4197m) towers above the other peaks of the range. Other popular peaks include Mount Moran (3842m), Middle Teton, Mount Teewinot (3757m), Baxter's Pinnacle, Symmetree Spire and the Snaz.
    • Absaroka Range Located to the east of Teton Range-Yellowstone Area.
    • Bighorn Mountains Easternmost range of Greater Yellowstone Rockies, to the east of Absaroka Range and bordering on Great Plains in the east.
    • Wind River Range Highest range in Greater Yellowstone Rockies with Gannett Peak (4209m). With the exception of Grand Teton, all of 20 highest peaks in Wyoming are located in Wind River range.
    • Great Divide Basin Area
  • Kelsey, Joe: Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains, 2nd, 2nd edition. Isbn: 9780934641708. Falconguides, 1994.
  • Kelsey, Joe: Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains (Climbing Mountains Series), Third Edition Edition edition. Isbn: 9780762780785. Falcon Guides, 2013.
  • Sam, Jr. Lightner: Rock Climbing Wyoming - The Best Routes in the Cowboy State (How to Climb Series). Isbn: 9781493016129. Falcon Guides, 2016.
  • Josephson, Joe: Winter Dance - Select Ice Climbs in Southern Montana and Northern Wyoming. Isbn: 9781933009001. First Ascent Pr Llc, 2004.

Teton Range-Yellowstone Area

Located in Wyoming, approximately 50 miles south of Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park hosts one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in the lower 48. The Grand Teton (4197m) towers above the other peaks of the range. Other popular peaks include Mount Moran (3842m), Middle Teton, Mount Teewinot (3757m), Baxter's Pinnacle, Symmetree Spire and the Snaz.

The climbing season in the Tetons goes from around the end of June to the middle of September. The main center of the area is Jackson.

Tetons offer fine alpine climbing, mostly on rock but there are also several rock and mixed routes. Classics include the Owen-Spalding, Exum Ridge and and North Ridge on Grand Teton. There are also classic ice climbs. Gullies offer the most reliable ice climbing often with hard snow in early summer and white or black ice in late summer and autumn. Most of these gullies range in steepness between 40 and 60 degrees and thus in winter, are usually filled with snow. The most famous of them being Black Ice Couloir and Enclosure Couloir on Grand Teton, Glacier Route and Northwest Couloir of Middle Teton and north couloir of Buck Mountain. Ice fall climbing can be found in Death Canyon (Tetons), Torrey Canyon in the Wind Rivers and Lake Louise Area.

  • Ortenburger, Leigh N. & Jackson, Reynold G.: A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range, Third Edition edition. Isbn: 9780898864809. Mountaineers Books, 1996.
  • Rossiter, Richard: Teton Classics, 2nd - 50 Selected Climbs in Grand Teton National Park, 2nd edition. Isbn: 9780934641715. Falcon, 1994.
  • Gams, Aaron: Teton Rock Climbs, 1 Edition edition. Isbn: 9780976636328. Ground Up Press, 2012.
  • Rossiter, Richard: Best Climbs Grand Teton National Park (Best Climbs Series), First Edition Edition edition. Isbn: 9780762773381. Falcon Guides, 2012.

Western Rocky Mountains

Western Rocky Mountains consists of ranges located to the east of Salt lake City and west of Southern Rocky Mountains. The highest peak of the range is Kings Peak (4120m) on Uinta range.

  • Southeast Idaho Ranges Lowest range of Western Rockies with Meade Peak (3035m) being the highest mountain.
  • Wyoming Overthrust Belt Ranges Wyoming Peak (3482m)
  • Wasatch Range Wasatch Range is located just to the west of Salt Lake City. The highest peak of Wasath Range is Mount Nebo (3637m). However, the best known climbing destination of the area are the canyons: Logan and American Fork Canyon (among others) are limestone; Big Cottonwood Canyon is quartzite, and Little Cottonwood Canyon is granite-like quartz monzonite. Superb climbing in all four of these.
  • Uinta Range Highest range of Western Rockies with Kings Peak (4120m).
  • Green, Stewart M.: Rock Climbing Utah, 1st edition. Isbn: 9781560445944. Falcon, 1998.
  • Black, David: Ice Climbing Utah (Regional Rock Climbing Series), 1st edition. Isbn: 9781585920600. Falconguides, 2000.
  • Kelsey, Michael R.: Utah Mountaineering Guide, 3rd edition. Isbn: 9780944510148. Treasure Chest Books, 1997.

Southern Rocky Mountains

Southern Rocky Mountains are located mostly in Colorado, with some parts extending to southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Wyoming, northern portion of New Mexico, and extreme eastern portions of Utah. The Southern Rockies include the highest mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains with 54 summits over 14 000 feet (4267m), including all 30 of the highest peaks of the Rockies. Most fourteeners are easy climbs, often just hikes. Only about ten or so, including those in the Crestone area in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Wilsons in the San Juans, and summits in the Elk Mountains, require anything more than walking to gain the summit. Colorado has world class water ice climbs in the Boulder area as well as Vail, Aspen, Summit County, and Ouray.

Rocky mountains is primarily a rock climbing venue during the summer. That is to say that there are not many year-round classic snow/alpine ice climbs. Most fourteeners are easy climbs, often just hikes. Only about ten or so, including those in the Crestone area in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Wilsons in the San Juans, and summits in the Elk Mountains, require anything more than walking to gain the summit. Some peaks have more difficult climbs up steep rock faces.

Rocky Mountain National park is probably the best bet for those looking to find alpine ice routes, particularly on Long's Peak. These however Areas around Durango and Telluride (San Juan Mountains) have several winter ice climbing venues. Likely the most famous natural waterfall in the area and one that has worldwide significance as historically significant milestone of the sport is Bridalveil Falls in Telluride, a classic 3 pitch climb (WI5+/WI6). Ouray Ice Oark is certainly one of the best known ice venues of the world as it is often covered in the magazines. Vail is another area with some well known ice climbs (of crag variety). Also Boulder, Aspen and Summit County each have plenty of water ice and mixed climbing.

Some small glaciers exist, and snow covers the mountains from December through May, with some snow patches remaining through most of the year. The mountains are more accessible during the summer, but severe afternoon thunderstorms are common. During the winter there is loads of seasonal ice, both in crags and alpine setting.

  • Park range Located to the north of Flat Tops. Mount Zirkel (3712m).
  • Southern Wyoming Ranges Forms the NE corder of Southern Rocky Mountains. Located to the east of Park range and and Flat Tops and to the north of Front Range. Highest mountain is Clark Peak (3947m).
    • Medicine Bow Mountains
    • Laramie Mountains
  • Flat Tops
    • White River Plateau
  • Front Range Most famous climbing destination of Southern Rockies. Front Range is easternmost range located immediately to the west of Boulder and Denver. Grays Peak (4352m), Mount Evans (4348m) and Longs Peak (4346) are the main peaks of the Front Range. Estes Park and Flatirons are probably the best known rock climbing venues of the range.
  • Elk Mountains One of the more rugged ranges where peaks cannot generally be reached by a simple hike. The highest peak of the range is Castle Peak (4352m). Black Canyon is the Big Wall destination of Colorado. The range is located to SW of Aspen.
    • Grand Mesa
  • Sawatch Range Sawatch Range is located in the center of Southern Rocky Mountains, squeezed between Elk Mountains in the East and Central Colorado Ranges and Front Range to the east. Mount Elbert (4401m), the highest peak of entire Rockies, is located here. Sawatch range has a great number or 4000ers with very little altitude difference between the highest peaks. The main center of the area is famous skiing resort Aspen.
  • Central Colorado Ranges
    • Mosquito Range
    • Rabbit Ears Range
  • San Juan Mountains San Juan Mountains are located to the south of Elk and Sawatch Ranges and East of Colorado Plateu. Main convenient centers are Telluride, Durango and Papoosa Springs. The range sports several 40000ers, but none of them is particularly well known. The highest peak of the range is Uncompahgre Peak (4365m). Internationally the best known climbing destination of the range is artificial ice farm of Ouray.
  • Sangre de Cristo Mountains Sangre de Cristo Mountains are located to the east of San Juan Mountains and SE Colorado Plateau, south of Front Range. The range runs from north to south and is fairly narrow. Most of the highest peaks are located towards the northern part of the range. The highest peak of the range is Crestone Needle (4328m) of Crestone group. Crestone group is one of the most rugged in Colorado and by far the most famous climbing destination. The main city of the range is Santa Fe at the southern end of the chain.
  • R, Borneman Walter & J, Lampert Lyndon: A Climbing Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners - Twentieth Anniversary Edition, 20th Anniversary Ed. Edition edition. Isbn: 9780871088505. Westwinds Press, 1997.
  • Cooper, Dave: Colorado Snow Climbs. Isbn: 9780976052593.
  • Roach, Gerry: Colorado's Fourteeners, 3rd Ed. - From Hikes to Climbs, Third Edition Edition edition. Isbn: 9781555917463. Fulcrum Publishing, 2011.
  • R, Borneman Walter & J, Lampert Lyndon: A Climbing Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners - Twentieth Anniversary Edition, 20th Anniversary Ed. Edition edition. Isbn: 9780871088505. Westwinds Press, 1997.
  • Conners, Ben & Miller, Brian: Climbing and Skiing Colorado's Mountains - 50 Select Ski Descents (Backcountry Skiing Series), First Edition Edition edition. Isbn: 9780762791859. Falcon Guides, 2014.
  • Green, Stewart M.: Rock Climbing Colorado - A Guide to More Than 1,800 Routes (State Rock Climbing Series), Second Edition Edition edition. Isbn: 9780762738250. Falcon Guides, 2010.
  • Ormes, Robert M.; Jacobs, Randy & Club, Colorado Mountain: Guide to the Colorado Mountains, 9 Rev Edition edition. Isbn: 9781555661946. Johnson Books, 1997.
  • Club, Colorado Mountain: Colorado 14ers - The Colorado Mountain Club Pack Guide (Colorado Mountain Club Pack Guides), 3rd edition. Isbn: 9780984221325. Colorado Mountain Club Press, 2010.
  • Edited: Colorado 14ers - The Standard Routes (Colorado Mountain Club Guidebooks). Isbn: 9780979966385. Colorado Mountain Club Press, 2010.
  • Roach, Gerry: Colorado's Indian Peaks - Classic Hikes and Climbs (Classic Hikes & Climbs S), Second Edition Edition edition. Isbn: 9781555914042. Fulcrum Publishing, 1998.
  • Burns, Cameron M.: Colorado Ice Climber's Guide (Regional Rock Climbing Series), 1st edition. Isbn: 9781575400860. Falcon, 1998.
  • Roberts, Jack: Colorado Ice, Volume 1. Isbn: 0965610918. Big Earth Publishing.

Front Range

Most famous climbing destination of Southern Rockies. Front Range is easternmost range located immediately to the west of Boulder and Denver. Grays Peak (4352m), Mount Evans (4348m) and Longs Peak (4346) are the main peaks of the Front Range. Estes Park and Flatirons are probably the best known rock climbing venues of the range.

  • Northern Front Range
  • Rocky Mountain National Park Area Northwest section of Front Range, located to NE of Boulder. Certainly the most famous part of Front Range and also the best known climbing area. Highest peak is Longs Peak (4346). Popular climbing areas Estes Park, Eldorado Canyon and Flatirons are all located in this part of the range.
  • Central Front Range West of Denver. The highest peaks of Front Range are located in Central part as Grays Peak (4349m), Torreys Peak (4349m) and Mount Evans (4348m) are all located in this part of the range.
  • South Park Hills
  • Rampart Range SE corder of Front Range located to the west of Colorado Springs. Main peak of the area is famous Pikes Peak (4301m).
  • Gillett, Bernard: Rocky Mountain National Park - High Peaks: The Climber's Guide, 1st edition. Isbn: 9780964369856. Earthbound Sports, 2001.
  • Gillett, Bernard: Rocky Mountain National Park - Estes Park Valley: The Climber's Guide, 1st edition. Isbn: 9780964369849. Earthbound Sports, 2001.
  • Rossiter, Richard & Meyers, George: Rock and Ice Climbing Rocky Mountain National Park - The High Peaks, 1st edition. Isbn: 9780934641661. Falconguides, 1996.
  • Green, Stewart M.: Best Climbs Rocky Mountain National Park - Over 100 of the Best Routes on Crags and Peaks (Best Climbs Series), First Edition Edition edition. Isbn: 9780762769988. Falcon Guides, 2011.
  • Leonard, Brendan & Smith, Lee: Classic Front Range Trad Climbs - Multi-Pitch Routes 5.4-5.8. Isbn: 9781937052133. Colorado Mountain Club Press, 2015.
  • Green, Stewart M.: Best Climbs Denver and Boulder - Over 200 of the Best Routes in the Area (Best Climbs Series), First Edition Edition edition. Isbn: 9780762761166. Falcon Guides, 2011.
  • Roach, Gerry: Flatiron Classics - Easy Rock Climbs Above Boulder (Colorado Mountain Club Guidebooks), 0002- Edition edition. Isbn: 9780979966323. Mountaineers Books, 2008.

Sawatch Range

Sawatch Range is located in the center of Southern Rocky Mountains, squeezed between Elk Mountains in the East and Central Colorado Ranges and Front Range to the east. Mount Elbert (4401m), the highest peak of entire Rockies, is located here. Sawatch range has a great number or 4000ers with very little altitude difference between the highest peaks. The main center of the area is famous skiing resort Aspen.

  • Northern Sawatch Range
  • Elbert-Massive-Fryingpan Area Group located to the NE of Aspen. The group has many 4000ers, including Mount Elbert (4401m), the highest peak of thew Rocky Mountains.
  • Collegiate Peaks
  • Southern Sawatch Range
  • Far Southern Sawatch

San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains are located to the south of Elk and Sawatch Ranges and East of Colorado Plateu. Main convenient centers are Telluride, Durango and Papoosa Springs. The range sports several 40000ers, but none of them is particularly well known. The highest peak of the range is Uncompahgre Peak (4365m). Internationally the best known climbing destination of the range is artificial ice farm of Ouray.

  • San Miguel Mountains Wilsons
  • West-Central San Juan Mountains Sneffels Range to the north of Telluride
  • North-Central San Juan Mountains
  • La Plata Mountains
  • Needle Mountains The Grenadiers and the Needles provide for some of the best backcountry mountaineering in the area.
  • East-Central San Juan Mountains
  • La Garita Mountains
  • Southern San Juan Mountains
  • Tusas Mountains

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Sangre de Cristo Mountains are located to the east of San Juan Mountains and SE Colorado Plateau, south of Front Range. The range runs from north to south and is fairly narrow. Most of the highest peaks are located towards the northern part of the range. The highest peak of the range is Crestone Needle (4328m) of Crestone group. Crestone group is one of the most rugged in Colorado and by far the most famous climbing destination. The main city of the range is Santa Fe at the southern end of the chain.

  • Northern Sangre de Cristo Range The highest part of Sangre de Cristo Mountains is Crestones group. The groups has four 14ers with Crestone Needle (4328m) being the highest. The Crestones are also among the most rugged peaks of Colorado.
  • Wet Mountains Group located to the east of Northern Sangre de Cristo Range (Crestones) in the northern Sangre de Cristo.
  • Sierra Blanca
  • Culebra Range
  • Taos Mountains
  • Cimarron Range
  • Central Sangre de Cristo Range of NM
  • Santa Fe Mountains Southernmost group of Sangre de Cristo Mountains, located just NE of the city of Santa fe.