When it comes to idyllic climbing spots, we are spoilt for choice. Every continent boasts its own climbing paradises that draw thousands of climbers every year.
Out of all the known crags - of which there are over 78,000 currently listed on theCrag.com - there are just a handful that truly stand-out. Through a combination of their significance in climbing history and the beauty of their awe-inspiring lines, here are a few places that every climber needs to visit.
Bouldering: Fontainebleau, France
If you love nothing more than getting your forearms pumping on a tendon-pulling bouldering problem, there is no better place head to than Fontainebleau.
Located just 60kms South East of Paris, this pine forest is widely regarded as the birthplace of bouldering.
There is no shortage of world-class boulder hotspots on this planet (let’s not forget Rocklands or Joshua Tree) but the significance Fontainebleau has on the history of bouldering makes this place truly bucket list-worthy.
Grades range from 1A+ to 8C+, with plenty of iconic boulders scattered around the area, including L'Elephant and Bas Cuvier. Pick any of the 20,000+ bouldering problems found here and you will be in love with the sandstone rock and the history-steeped landscape.
For Big Wall Climbing: Yosemite, USA
Let’s face it, Yosemite has never been a stranger to global attention. A flurry of ground-breaking ascents later (remember Alex Honnold free soloing El Capitan and Tommy Caldwell on the Dawn Wall?) and climbing in Yosemite is booming.
If you are a big wall climber, then there’s no better place to be than tying in for a run-up El Cap. It’s the largest continuous wall in the United States of America and stands at an intimidating 3,300' (1,000m) tall.
But the magnetic pull of El Captain to even us less gifted rock-monkeys is hard to ignore. The imposing presence of the golden granite walls of El Cap, Half Dome, and Sentinel is enough to tempt even non-climbing travelers to jump on and have a go.
Of course, if you can’t do the 31 pitches up The Nose, don’t think you will be standing around twiddling your thumbs. There is still some great single pitch sport climbs you can do.
Bouldering problems can be found in abundance around Yosemite, especially in the Camp 4 area. There is plenty of iconic problems like Midnight Lighting and Bachar Cracker scattered throughout the valley to you to keep you busy for a season or two.
For Deep Water Soloing: Mallorca, Spain
If deep water soloing - or psicobloc as it is also called - is more your thing, then a trip to Mallorca needs to be added to your diary. This sun-soaked Spanish island is famous for its origins of DWS.
But it wasn’t until Chris Sharma caught the DWS bug that the sport really came to fruition. His ascent of Es Pontas in 2005, that menacing 40ft arch in the Balearic Sea, was a grounded-breaking milestone for DWS and showed the climbing world what can be achieved with this discipline.
A lot of the DWS in Mallorca is pretty tricky, so make sure you are ready to take on at least a 6a - or your time there will be more of a swimming trip rather than a climbing one.
Best for Sport climbing: Kalymnos, Greece
There’s no shortage of good things going for Greece, but the amount of sport climbing it has to offer is enough to make any climber feel like a kid on Christmas.
If you have the time, there’s a penalty of good climbing around the country for you to try. The ancient beauty of Meteora or the exciting lines of Leonidio are brilliant, but the island of Kalymnos is the real crown jewel of the countries climbing scene.
As well as its vibrant social community, beautiful weather and crystal blue beaches, one of the things I love most about Kalymnos is that there is something for climbers of abilities to enjoy. There are over 3,000 document routes scattered around the island, but it seems like there is a new crag waiting to be discovered around every corner.
Best for a Good Time: Railay, Thailand
While there is no arguing that Railay and Ton Sai are world-class climbing destinations, they bring a lot more to the table than just a few dreamy lines - although they have plenty of those too.
Sport climbing is in abundance here, with over 700 established routes between both Ton Sai and Railay. Grades range from 4a to 8c+, with Greed on Ton Sai beach being the toughest route in Thailand.
If belaying on a beach in South East-Asia doesn’t impress you, then there’s plenty of other things that might.
If there’s climbing there’s slacklining, but balancing on a line in the relentless Thai humidity is a different challenge altogether. Deep water soloing can be done here too, although it’s not as easy to find anymore.
Aside from brilliant climbing, expect to find a chilled-out international climbing community all year round, welcoming local restaurants and plenty of beach bars to relax with a beer after a rewarding day of climbing.
What’s your dream climbing destination?
Of course, the five places I mentioned above are just a small portion of the amazing climbing locations we have. Depending on your climbing style and tastes, your bucket list-worthy climbing sports might be completely different from the ones I have chosen.
Where are you going on your dream climbing trip?
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