Larry Bleiberg, Special to USA TODAY Published 8:00 a.m. ET Oct. 17, 2020

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Matthew Philips, 18, was born without a right arm but that hasn’t stopped him climbing some of the trickiest mountains. USA TODAY

Rock climbing, one of the country’s fastest growing sports, not only builds physical strength and mental focus, but also can lead you to some beautiful places, says Chris Santella, author of “Fifty Places To Rock Climb Before You Die” (Abrams Image, $24.99).

With the increasing popularity of climbing gyms and the addition of climbing to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, interest is booming.

He shares some favorite U.S. climbing spots that are welcome newer climbers

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