SAID BELHAJ - ROADTRIP IN THE USA
It had been 6 years since I visited the US the last time. Before I used to go almost every year, so I felt like it was time to go back, visit friends, old and new climbing areas.
The trip started in Colorado. Boulder is the capital of climbing in the US: there is climbing in pretty much all styles around the small city, and that’s probably why so many climbers live there. One of them is legendary Christian Griffith who is an old friend. Our standard way of hanging out is going bouldering in nearby Flagstaff just above the town. There is plenty of good bouldering around as well as routes.
For some of the best sport climbing however, you need to do a 3-4 hour drive to the Rifle national park. This is one of the premier limestone crags in the country. Usually technical and beta intensive routes is the game here.
After some time in Rifle we headed west to Utah. This in another state in the country with tons of great climbing. One of the most unique places is perhaps in the desert around the little town of Moab. Here you have world class sandstone crack climbing on faces and desert towers. It’s a mystical place with a long history of ancient civilizations. In Utah we also climbed in the conglomerate caves of Maple Canyon and went bouldering with good friends in Little Cottonwood Canyon just outside Salt Lake City.
Our main destination was finally Smith Rock in Oregon. This is a legendary area, the birthplace of sport climbing in the US, with many iconic routes. This was also one of the places I had not visited before so I was well psyched to experience the climbing and scene. After 2 weeks at "Smith" I had climbed many of the classics, the highlight being the route "Just Do It", first climbed by the French J.B. Tribout in '92. After 6 weeks on the road it was time to head back to Colorado to catch our flight back to Europe.
Time never seems enough on this continent with its big stone and spaces. I'm already planning a trip for next year!