Best Climbing in California

Trying to find the best climbing in California? Bivy has great hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, skiing, riding and more, with hand-curated trail maps, as well as detailed driving directions.

1

California, Inyo County

32 :59 hrs
12.9 mi
2446.8066 ft
I

Mount Williamson Trail begins by following a creek and then making several switchbacks as it quickly gains elevation. The trail is a narrow path that meanders through a rugged landscape providing little to no shade on the trail. This trip is intended to be an overnight trip; at 8 miles is Ansel Camp. Fires are not permitted at the camp. The trail continues to climb through an exposed landscape and past a cluster of alpine lakes where there are plenty of excellent views of the surrounding area. The final ascent climbs up a steep rocky chute and over a steep, blocky headwall to the plateau and finally the summit. It is recommended to do this early in the season when the snow line is lower. During this time, you will encounter talus and scree. Also, crampons and ice axes are recommended for Shepherds Pass. Weather conditions during winter ascents make this significantly more difficult as stated by Harding in 1954. Difficulty Rating: Class 3

2

Nevada, Esmeralda County

10 :48 hrs
3.9 mi
1008.4695 ft
I

Nevada’s highest point, Boundary Peak is a summit that few reach. At 13,140 feet, this is a strenuous journey that requires both strength and stamina to climb. We recommend the use of ski poles to reach the summit, but no other equipment is required. Though the trail is only 4 miles long, many who climb Boundary, which is the lowest of the White Mountain high peaks, make this a two-day trip and camp on the slopes leading up to the peak.

3

California, Mono County

01 :20 hrs
1.3 mi
310.9746 ft
Various

Located above McLeod Lake, Mammoth Crest is the prominent wide-ranging wall that can be seen from the town of Mammoth Lakes. Here you will find a quiet alpine wall that features routes ranging from 2-3 pitches. There are 6 different sections of this wall with “Sector 4” being located near the center of the formation. Approach from the Horseshoe Lake parking area, which is located within a deforested area where volcanic grasses have killed the trees. Follow Mammoth Pass Trail until reaching the trail junction. Take the trail that leads to McLeod Lake. After reaching the lake, skirt the outside of the lake to the south end. Hike up through the talus field to reach a small cliff band. From here head up and right to the base of the wall. To reach Sector 4, head southeast (left) along the base of the formation.

4

California, Inyo County

09 :46 hrs
4.3 mi
1862.4985 ft
S3

Mount Whitney is not only the highest peak in California, but the highest peak in the contiguous United States. The route steeply climbs alongside the North Fork of Pine Creek and passes three alpine lakes before reaching the base of a distinctive couloir on the northeast face, this is Mountaineers Route. It ascends through the couloir and traverses along the north face to the west ridge and finally the summit. Due to icy and exposed conditions beyond the notch at 14,200 feet, skiing this section of the couloir is too dangerous and not recommended. The plateau at the summit lacks snow and is usually left barren from exposure. This should be done as a multi-day trip with at least two overnights at Upper Boy Scout Lake (mile 2.5) or Iceberg Lake (mile 4). Contact Inyo National Forest for information on camping and permits required. Difficulty Rating: IV S3

5

California, Inyo County

11 :42 hrs
9.2 mi
2163.5361 ft
IV

The trail to the east arête and the east face of Split Mountain follows Red Mountain Creek Trail through a canyon and past Red Lake. This approach follows the arête to the right out the east central couloir. After a short warm up of some easy climbing, you will reach a steep wall and the beginning of the 5.9 rock climb to the top of the arête. You'll climb up and over large rock blocks and along a ridge crest no wider than 6 feet before reaching the second crux, a 5.8 rock climb. The final approach to the summit is an easy climb. This route contains sixteen plus pitches. It is recommended to do this as an overnight trip; contact Kings Canyon National Park for information on camping and permits required. This can be done year-round, but the most popular time to go is between June and October. Difficulty Rating: IV 5.9

6

California, Inyo County

20 :29 hrs
7.7 mi
1915.2798 ft
IV

North Palisade is amongst the more popular mountains for mountaineering. The U-Notch is a prominent feature between North Palisade and Polemonium Mountain and the most popular ascent route. The first ascent along this route was a solo completed by Norman Clyde in 1928. The trail to the north face and the U-Notch of North Palisade follows the North Fork of Big Pine Creek Trail as it passes several alpine lakes to Palisade Glacier. The route begins by climbing over or traversing around a bergschrund at the mouth of the couloir. Beyond the crevasse is between six and ten pitches of easy ice climbing. Ice screw belays are recommended, but not required. If you ascend on the edges of the gully, expect to place rock climbing gear. At the highest point of the notch, the route climbs up the near vertical south facing wall characterized by a crack system and a series of ledges. At the top of the long climb is a chimney to the left, this is the easiest route that climbs up the chimney and to the right over several more ledges. Contact Inyo National Forest for required camping permits. Difficulty Rating: IV 5.2

7

California, Inyo County

13 :18 hrs
7.5 mi
1797.8474 ft
S4

North Palisade is the fourth largest peak in California and a popular destination for avid backcountry skiers. From Glacier Lodge, you'll hike into an alpine valley and a more rugged terrain where you'll pass First, Second, and Third Lake all strung together by Big Pine Creek. Above Sam Mack Meadow you'll hike above tree line and skirt the edges of a small lake; this is a great spot for camp. Contact Kings Canyon National Park for information on camping and required permits. The final approach to the top of the U-Notch is challenging and requires advanced mountaineering skills; bring rope, crampons, and ice axes. Difficulty Rating: IV S4 A

8

California, Inyo County

22 :04 hrs
8.4 mi
1813.8916 ft
IV

Middle Palisade shares the same ridge in which you will find seven of California's fourteeners, this is the Sierra Crest. The trail to the west face of Middle Palisade follows the South Fork of Big Pine Creek through a rugged canyon and over South Fork Pass where it then descends into a lakes basin and traverses over steep rock to the west face. The Smoke Buttress approach climbs eleven pitches up a steep buttress. The crux is at the tenth pitch where the route climbs a steep headwall. Once the buttress is completed, its Class 3 and 4 climbing up a couloir and along a ridge to the summit. Contact Inyo National Forest for required camping permits. There is much snow early in the year which requires the use of more gear and essentially more weight to carry. Can be climbed year-round, but the ideal time to go is between May through October. Difficulty Rating: IV 5.9 A1

9

California, Inyo County

12 :09 hrs
5.1 mi
2418.4941 ft
S0

Mount Williamson is second to Mount Whitney in height and is compared in size to Mount Shasta. This is one of the more challenging tours. The peak is surrounded by steep walls and narrow canyons where Williamson Creek, Bairs Creek, and its tributaries flow. The route begins below snowline as it climbs along the canyon walls above the North fork of Bairs Creek avoiding the dense vegetation that grows below. It climbs in and out of gullies until it reaches the midway point where the canyon widens and open views of the cirque and plateau summit come into view. The final approach ascends up the cirque and through a couloir to the summit. For the descent, follow your ascent route back. This is intended to be a multi-day trip; contact Inyo National Forest for information on camping and permits required. Difficulty Rating: IV S5

10

Nevada, North Las Vegas

03 :33 hrs
5 mi
650.12354 ft
3

Hidden Falls Canyon is located in the Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area. The approach hike is about 3 miles and has fantastic scenery. The technical route offers some excellent rappels and downclimbing. There is about 5-7 rappels with the longest being 110 ft. There is a lot of bouldering and down climbing in the lower part of the canyon. There is a possiblity of small pools of water if water is flowing. Bring rappelling and anchor gear, rope for rappels to 120 feet, 30 feet of webbing and rapids for sling placement.

See more adventures..

Explore complete list