The United States is home to some of the most spectacular rock climbing locations known to humanity. As the world’s third largest country, America’s range encompassing everything from climbs that barely get you breaking a sweat to ones so harrowing that the brave few who conquer them don’t come back down the same. While it would take a lifetime of dedicated climbing to truly discover all the US has to offer, let us not forget our spectacular globe is a treasure trove of natural wonders just waiting to be discovered. If you dare to venture across the Mexican or Canadian borders, you will unlock a breathtaking array of new climbs. Not to mention what happens when you spread your search beyond the North American continent altogether. From the tropical islands of Thailand to the dark and haunting forests of Germany, we’ve collected our favourite 5 climbing spots from around the world to help get you charged up for the adventures that await you if only you’re willing to take that first step.
The Frankenjura: Germany
Pronounced Frahn-kin-yer-a, this stunning part of Bavaria offers an abundance of beautifully pocketed limestone cliffs, hugged by the miles of lush green forest. Hidden within its folds are more than 10,000 known climbing routes and, as Frankenjura covers a monumental area (roughly 2,724 square miles), some of the crags are deeply isolated. If this sounds like your thing, we recommend researching the area and planning well in advance to ensure a safe and happy journey.
WIth more than 1,500 crags on offer, you can find something to suit any level of climbing ability. While most of the crags, bluffs and towers do cater more for experienced climbers, there are still a good 300 routes that come in under a 5.9 rating. There are also plenty of good spots for bouldering. After a full day of climbing, be sure to stop in at one of the many local taverns to reward yourself with a refreshing Bavarian beer.
Railay Beach: Thailand
Primo rock climbing with a stunning tropical view? If your answer is “yes please” (with a bounty of enthusiastic exclamation marks) then Railay Beach, Thailand is the rock climbing spot for you. The Railay Peninsula is nestled between Ao Nang and Krabi… and trust us, just making your way out to the cliffs is an adventure in and of itself! Once you’ve left the boat that got you there behind, you’ll find yourself on a glistening beach, gazing up at a series of towering cliffs and natural arches.
From high up on the rock, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the most stunning, turquoise ocean views of your life. With thousands of routes available, catering to everyone from beginners to advanced, this is an unmissable stop for all climbing enthusiasts. In fact, if you’ve been telling yourself it’s time to up your game and start free-soloing, Railay Beach is the perfect place to start as a fall from many of the routes will result in nothing more than an unexpected swim in the warm tropical water!
Kalymnos Island: Greece
We’ve had a fair few climbers tell us that Kalymnos is the world’s ultimate spot for sport routes. While this “world’s best” statement is pretty bold, it’s hard to argue when you’re gazing up at some of the colossal craggy routes.
This stunning island is a true climber’s paradise, with a variety of routes catering to all skill levels. It’s the kind of place you’ll want to camp up at for a while along with a pack of your favorite climbing companions. If you’re keen to see the world’s top climbers doing their thing, be sure to book your trip to coincide with the Kalymnos Climbing Festival, held every year in October.
Skaha Bluffs: British Columbia, Canada
With 66 crags and more than 1,000 climbs to be found in its glorious canyons, Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park is one of Canada’s finest climbing destinations. Keep in mind, the majority of climbs here are sport routes. There are plenty of vertical ascents, as well as some extreme angles capable of challenging even the most experienced climbers.
Having said all that, there are still plenty of easier climbs where those at the earlier stages of their adventures into the sport can develop their skills. Since spot is so loved by local climbers, you’ll also find parking a breeze as there is now a paved road and dedicated parking lot that allows you to get straight in where you want to be without having to sacrifice half of your daylight hours to hiking out there!
El Potrero Chico: Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Located just outside of the small township of Hidalgo, this national park is home to some of the best climbing you’ll find in Mexico. The ominous cliffs and sharp peaks of El Potrero Chico are a beautiful yet imposing sight, some towering as high as 2,000 feet. It is here that you’ll find the longest sports route in the North American continent: Timewave Zero.
When exploring this region, it’s best to travel in a group and, while the friendly people of Hidalgo are used to having climbers in their town now and appreciate the economic boost from the tourism, it is still vital to respect their culture and use your common sense. The slow-moving pace of the tiny township gifts you with the remarkable opportunity to take a step back in time and experience the way more laid back way life used to roll in Mexico.