Some folks travel around the world; I prefer to climb it.
Seasoned rock climbers know all about the limestone cliffs of Krabi, Thailand, or the ’14 pitches, bitches’ of Portero Chico, Mexico. But oftentimes, it’s worth discovering new and beautiful places, full of phenomenal rock, ice, and snow to climb. Here’s a personal list of premier rock climbing destinations, segmented by continent, organized alphabetically (yes, I’m still _that_ person, ha):
Lukenya, Kenya: there’s nothing quite like camping and climbing in the African bush – waking up to a sunrise where you can almost see the faint shadow of Kilimanjaro lingering in the background, basking in the scorching equatorial sun as you route find and lead your way up V Diffs whilst battling the thorns and bushes of various vegetation. Located just 30 miles south of Nairobi, Lukenya is a Kenya climbing scene favorite – but you must join the Mountain Club of Kenya to gain access to climb there (do it, they are one gnarly group of good peoples!)
Cat Ba, Vietnam: sport climbing and gorgeous limestone tuphers – ’nuff said. Make sure to check out Asia Outdoors, a solid guiding service who will certainly lead you in the right direction as far as bar, food, and routes beta are concerned.
Chiang Mai, Thailand: same, but different. Superb sport climbing in a concentrated area that is lush and green and known as one of the ‘world’s greenest mega-crags’. You won’t regret trekking out to this jungle to send, but don’t leave your bug spray in the hostel.
Chamonix, France: seriously, need I say more? Try the Arete des Cosmiques on for size.
Fontainebleau, France: duuude, bouldering in a forest, living it up in a chateau (or you can select more modest means of accommodation – a three-season tent – comme moi, as I did), and Carrefour pain au chocolat for petit dejeuner – the good life!
Indian Creek, Utah: bloody fists, climbing tape gloves, and clean, Wingate Sandstone cracks with a beautiful desert landscape as your backdrop – this is crack climbing at its best, kiddies.
The Shawnagunks, New York: an obvious and natural choice for a native New Yawker who got her climbing cherry popped in the Gunks on Gelsa, a classic and beautiful multi-pitch 5.4 climb in the Near Trapps. Pumpy quartz roofs, overhangs, sketchy ledges: a trad rat’s ultimate dream, or worst nightmare, depending on the route and whether it’s an ‘off the couch’ climbing day 🙂.
Rio de Janiero, Brazil: where else in the world can you climb up 710 meters of granite to the foot of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado and celebrate with a mini-bottle of cava and some tasty coxinhas? Recommended route: Italianos, 5.10a, 6-10 pitches (depending how you run out you like it) on the famous Pão de Açúcar.
Suesca, Colombia: high-altitude rock climbing is always the supreme test of endurance, and although Suesca is set only slightly higher than Bogota at 2,688 meters above sea level and can’t compare to its southern friends Bolivia and Peru in terms of height, there’s still something badass about climbing ABS (above sea level). Plus, shit is run out here (make sure to bring and get ready to place some trad gear on your way up these multi-pitch ‘sport’ routes as bolts are far and few in between), which only underscores one’s sense of badassness.