The Approach

“But I did a lot of good approaching!”, my friend said in a much more upbeat voice. Our conversation up to this point had mostly been about our less-than-ideal summer climbing season. “Good approaching”, huh? The thought alone was enough to make me smile.

During the days between then and now, I have spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on what constitutes a “good” approach. A good approach can be a silver lining to a failed climbing mission, or the icing on the cake to a successful one. Much like with climbs themselves, they need to have good flow, good positions, and a little bit of undefinable something that sets them apart from the hundreds of other approaches that are merely a means to an end. Below are some of my personal favorites.

Bohuslan, Sweden:

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On approach to Hallinden. Photo by Rami Valonen.

Every cliff I have ever visited in Bohuslan has had a mellow and laid-back approach (which is good, because the climbing is anything but casual). The hikes are short, usually flat, and generally offer views of a beautiful and iconic Swedish countryside.

 

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Farm country and granite. Not a bad view from Vettekullen. Photo by Rami Valonen.

 

Aosta Valley crags,  Italy:

It is not everyday that you get to start your approach by walking down winding, centuries-old streets of a middle-European village.

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A beautiful morning for a stroll. Photo by Marc Daviet Photography.

As we worked our way though the village, over the river, and then up the mountain, the eye-catching landscape unfolded all around. Castle ruins lay below and the majestic, sun drenched, snow-capped Alps lay above. Navigation proved to be challenging during the last half of the tiring approach, but that could have been because of the distractingly good views.

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Mountains above, valley below. Photo by Marc Daviet Photography.

 

Higger Tor, England:

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While the hike in is only but a few minutes walk, it packs a punch in regards to scenery. Located in the north of the Peak District National Park, this classic gritstone approach offers “brilliant” views into the Burbage Valley. Sheep pastures and dry stacked stone wall fences cover the lush, green rolling landscape.

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Stone Mountain, North Carolina:

One of my favorite walks that ends at one of my favorite places. A meandering approach up a gravel service road leads you into a picturesque Appalachian valley. Stone Mountain stands proud above with its base only a few hundred yards (meters) away. It could just be the rhododendrons in bloom, the deer that are almost always to be seen in the valley, or the nervous excitement that comes with climbing at Stone. Whatever it is, it makes this one of the finest approaches I have had the pleasure to make.

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The Great Arch. Photo by Kneil Place.

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