The 35 Best Climbing Spots in America

Load Previous
The West: The Needles
Corey Rich / Aurora / Getty Images26/35

The West: The Needles

The Needles are a cluster of towering, lichen-speckled granite spires in the Sequoia National Forest. Trad climbers often describe them as “mythic”: the stone is flawless, and each pinnacle features several classic trad routes. A rigorous approach and the Needles’ intimidating scale ensures low climbing traffic. Arguably the best “small” climbing area in the West. “It’s a quiet climbing area, because beginners don’t go there,” Potter says. “The Needles is one of the best spots for big-exposure, multi-pitch climbs. The granite is excellent quality, and you’ll find lie-back cracks and flakes everywhere. It’s worth the trip just for the scenery and atmosphere, but if you’re a trad climber, you have to climb at the Needles at least once.”

Closest Town: Ponderosa, California
Grade Range: 5.6 – 5.13
Notable Routes: 75
Classics: Igor Unchained (5.9+), Thin Ice (5.10b), Spook Book (5.10+), Atlantic (5.11+), Romantic Warrior (5.12b), Pyromania (5.13a/b)
When to Visit: May-October

Back to Top