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Geology and Geographic Location of Popular US and Canadian Climbing Areas. Canada. Unknown Frontier.

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Geology and Geographic Location of Popular US and Canadian Climbing Areas

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Geology and geographic location of popular us and canadian climbing areas

Geology and Geographic Location of Popular US and Canadian Climbing Areas



Unknown frontier

Unknown Frontier

Most of Canada has not been explored for climbing. Some routes and “spots” do exist but not as plentiful as USA. Some places are very remote and require guides both native and conventional mountain guides to get to plus a lot of back- country knowledge.

Geology of canada

Geology of Canada

Almost all of the rock formations in Canada are from glacial influence with some, more towards the eastern shore, are eroded by sea water and wind.

Squamish bc

Squamish BC

  • Grand wall

  • Most popular area in Canada

  • Granite rock formed to present day condition by glaciers.

  • British Colombia center for Canadian Climbing

United states

United States

United states1

United States



  • Picture showing the glacial coverage of the US and Canada.

  • Most Climbing areas with glacial influence were covered in this period around 18,000 years ago.

Desert areas

Desert Areas

  • Sandstone

  • Usually large crack systems

  • Weathered by erosion, wind and water

  • Softer rock

  • Very dry and hot

Yosemite valley

Yosemite Valley

  • Small crystals in granite

Yosemite valley1

Yosemite Valley

  • Largest granite rock feature in the USA

  • Very “sandpapery” feel to rock

  • Up to 3000 feet tall

  • Glacial and water formed

  • Sierra Nevada area-east central California

Devils tower

Devils Tower

  • 1280 feet tall

  • Hardened center of a volcano

  • Igneous rock type

  • Weathered by water and wind

  • All surrounding earth material eroded away leaving present condition

  • Crack and chimney climbing like no other

The tower myth

The Tower Myth

  • Devil's Tower, Wyoming, a volcanic plug or neck. In Kiowa Indian mythology it was said that: Once upon a time seven little girls were playing in the woods far from home and they came upon some bears that chased after them. They found refuge on a great rock, that rose into sky with them on it, making them into stars. The bears tried to pursue them, but all their efforts were in vain. You can still see the struggle and their claw marks in the rock that makes up Devil's Tower.

Northeast shawangunks gunks


  • Largest climbing area in the northeast with over 1,200 established and recognized routes.

  • Located in the Catskill Mountain area.

  • Quartzite rock type

  • Water erosion and human impact are the biggest factors in the changing landscape.

  • Result of glacial scarring of surrounding land and waterways.



  • Hueco Tanks Texas

  • Eroded by water

  • Pooling water creates “Hueco’s” both on vertical rock and on the ground

South east usa

South East USA

  • Largest known climbing area is the Red River Gorge

  • Located in Kentucky’s Daniel Boon National Forest

  • Mostly limestone sedimentary rock

  • wind and water eroded

  • Largest amount of natural rock arches in a small area 100 arches

  • Pocketed rock in some areas

Geologic and geographical oddity of minnesota

Geologic and Geographical “oddity” of Minnesota



Minnesota is the only state where you can find every type of rock available to climbers that are present at mainstream climbing areas. Professional climbers from all over come to MN to train because of the variety of rock available to them at such short distances. Minnesota is viewed in the climbing community as the geologic and geographical “oddity” of America.

Taylor s falls

Taylor’s Falls

  • Basalt rock type

  • “Greasy” feel—smooth

  • Formed by river erosion also creating odd “potholes” in area as deep as 80-120 feet deep.

Barn bluff

Barn Bluff

  • Old limestone quarry where surrounding earth was removed to get to stone.

  • All human formation

  • Located in Red Wing MN.

  • Note- pictures shows access issues in Minnesota climbing areas.

Blue mounds

Blue Mounds

  • Quartzite rock type

  • Multi colored

  • Large 1-2 mile long outcropping of rock up to 100 feet tall.

  • Located in flat prairie land in southwest MN.

  • Odd formation brought on by the regression of the glaciers in area.

North shore palisades head shovel point

North Shore (Palisades head & Shovel Point)

  • Volcanic rock

  • Eroded away by 1 mile high glaciers and wind and water from the resulting glacial melt.

Carlton peak and mystical mountain zone

Carlton peak and Mystical Mountain Zone

  • Both are Anorthosite rock type

  • Characterized by large sharp glass like crystals

  • Carlton is highest point in MN about 900 feet above sea level

  • MMZ is longest climbs in MN around 130+ feet.

  • Very remote

  • Formed by glacial activity in area and some water erosion

Geology and geographic location of popular us and canadian climbing areas


  • Extremely remote climbs

  • Virtually unexplored

  • Range from 30-110 feet tall

  • Black granite(Gabro) to basalt/greenstone/ anorthosite mix for rock type.



As a general view of North America most climbing areas have been effected by glacial activity while the stragglers being wind and water erosion. Geographically you can place glaciers at every point where rock formations are especially in the northern areas. There are also similarities in rock type from Canada to the US. On the human aspect most climbers tend to live close to their favorite climbing area or rock type.

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