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special interest | climbing North America


The Sierra Nevada, California. Below: Angel Falls, Venezula


n WE SUGGEST: Sierra Nevada, California n WHY: Alaska’s Mount McKinley may be the quintessential mountaineering destination, due to its status as North America’s highest peak, but for variety and sheer beauty it’s hard to beat the Sierra Nevada. Running from Tehachapi Pass, 60 miles southeast of Bakersfield, to Lake Almanor, 400 miles north, this stunning range features 500 peaks above 12,000ft. Of these, 14,497ft Mount Whitney is arguably the most impressive. Accessible year-round, it’s best attempted by novices using the 22-mile round- trip Mount Whitney Trail in summer, when no specialist equipment or training is required. For experienced alpinists, the Mountaineer’s Route that passes through a gully on the north side of the east face presents a decent challenge. Skilled rock-climbers will enjoy the East Face Route, listed in Steve Roper’s and Allen Steck’s Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. n WHERE ELSE: Situated 17 miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon — as the name suggests — features vast sandstone formations that take on a vibrant reddish hue thanks to their iron oxide content. A year-round rock-climbing destination, Red Rock is also popular with hikers.


South America


n WE SUGGEST: Guiana Highlands n WHY: Tose who have seen the 2009 animated movie Up will doubtless recall the magical land that protagonist Carl Fredricksen flies to, having used hundreds of helium balloons to convert his home into an airship. But the breathtaking destination wasn’t simply a figment of Disney- Pixar’s imagination. Rather, the studios took their inspiration from South America’s Guiana Highlands, a densely forested 1,200-mile tract of land punctuated by tepuis (table-top mountains), crossing Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and Brazil. Among the highlights of these stunning tabular plateaus is 9,219ft Mount Roraima, sitting on the borders of Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana, and accessed in the dry season (December to March) over two days using the non-technical Paratepui hiking route. Te highlands are also home to the UNESCO- protected Angel Falls, the world’s highest


96 | ASTAnetwork | summer 2014


uninterrupted waterfall that cascades for a jaw- dropping 3,212ft from the Auyantepui mountain in Venezuela. n WHERE ELSE: Despite being the world’s highest active volcano and Chile’s loftiest peak, Ojos del Salado provides a reasonably accessible trek between December and March — at least up to the final 1,000ft of its 22,615ft elevation, where strong winds and loose rocks make conditions more challenging.


The Guiana Highlands are home to the UNESCO-protected Angel Falls, the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall that cascades for a jaw-dropping 3,212ft from the Auyantepui mountain in Venezuela


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