This project was the work of many people. It will always be unfinished, because there are always more and better photographs, reports of trips yet untaken, and climbs yet undiscovered. I can’t climb and document all the routes that belong in this collection in one lifetime (and I think I’m only going to get one), so continued participation from the climbing community is not only welcomed, it is crucial to keeping this a useful resource. Here is how you can participate:

Trip Reports: The simplest thing to do is type it up in a word processor so you have spell checking available, then paste it into an e-mail to me. You could also attach the file to an e-mail if it is in Microsoft Word or Adobe Exchange (pdf) format. I will exercise editorial prerogative, which can range from corrections of typos to substantial rewrite, to rejection of the report if I don’t think the content is appropriate. I will eliminate gross profanity or other material I feel will be too objectionable. I believe in the First Amendment, but I don’t want to spend my time responding to indignant readers. If you wish to review the edited results before I post it, please indicate so in your e-mail. Otherwise, I will assume you give me carte blanche editorial authority.

The minimum information needed besides the narrative or story is:

Feature Name
Route Name
Author’s Name
Date(s) of Trip (at least month & year)
Full names of participants

If you don’t mind being contacted by readers for further beta or feedback, include your e-mail address and/or web site URL.

New Route Nominations: Send an e-mail with your nomination(s). First, read the page “Why These Climbs” for general guidance on what qualifies a climb for this collection. To this, I would add the following:

1) The route should be of substantial length – 500 feet (150m) is suggested as minimum. There are too many thousands of excellent short climbs on the continent to allow covering them. However, in the spirit of inclusion, I hope to add a few climbs east of the Missisippi that wouldn’t otherwise qualify. These will be the best routes in the most important and historically significant areas.

2) The route must be recognized, at least locally, as a “plum” – one you would recommend to your friends. If someone were to ask you what the best climbs at a particular area are, these should leap immediately to mind. Consistent quality is the key here.

3) Classic climbs are not test pieces at the limits of the sport. They may have been when first established, but by the time they can be considered “classic”, they should be within the abilities of a reasonable percentage of competent, committed climbers. The original Roper and Steck list did not require any climbing above 5.9. Since standards have dramatically increased since 1979, a more modern list should extend higher. 5.11 rock or grade V ice seems a good compromise.

4) The route should be relatively safe, meaning that reasonable protection and belay anchors are available, and the objective hazards are not extreme. Few climbers would refer to a climb that is notorious for runouts, bad rock, avalanche danger, and the like as a classic.

5) There should be something unique about the route. Ideally, it is the best in its area, which is itself a quality climbing area with many more excellent routes. Yosemite Valley is heavily represented because it has so much excellent climbing. However, one must ask how many routes are appropriate for a single destination. There are hundreds of excellent climbing areas on the continent, and I am interested in seeing more representation from areas that are currently ignored, even if the route is not as outstanding by itself as, for example, yet another Yosemite big wall. Part of the fun of “chasing the list” is the exposure to such diverse geography, geology, and culture. Currently, I’m seeking nominations for the eastern half of the continent (Baffin Island, anyone?), Mexico, and the unrepresented ranges in Alaska.

6) The route must have stood the test of time to be considered “classic.” There is no fixed rule to this, but 10 years and enough ascents to have consensus in the community is a minimum. I frequently see a new route declared an “instant classic,” but that is an oxymoron. Conversely, the Volkswagen Beetle was considered by many to be an ugly, unimportant car when first introduced.

If you think your favorite route satisfies all these highly selective criteria, send an e-mail and we’ll discuss it. I’m usually very receptive, especially if you have the photos and are willing to put a little work into making it happen. Even if you don’t have the photos and information, I’m still interested in hearing your nominations; if enough votes accumulate for a particular climb, I’m likely to put out a call for photos, or go check out the route myself.

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