Rocks of ages: Climbing hotspots around the world
Gear up and discover some of the best crags on this planet.
For some, the thought of hanging off the side of a precipitous mountain or vertical cliff face by a rope is the stuff of nightmares. For others, the exhilaration and adrenaline rush that comes with outdoor climbing is an addictive thrill.
You might be an experienced climber looking for your next big challenge, but even if you don’t know your slopers from your crimps, a whole world of discovery awaits. We have scoured the globe to bring you five of the world’s top climbing hotspots, many of which promise staggering and otherwise inaccessible views.
Acadia National Park, Maine, U.S.
Acadia National Park is Maine’s premier outdoor destination. The park is a patchwork of lake-studded, mountainous terrain, at the heart of which is Mount Desert Island. It is here where mountains and sea collide, resulting in some of the world’s best climbing terrain. Pink granite cliffs such as the famous Otter Cliffs and Great Head rise vertically from the ocean, providing climbers with spectacular ascents that often leave them hanging dramatically over the sea.
There is a clutch of highly reputable climbing companies in the main town of Bar Harbor including Acadia Guides Mountain Climbing School, which will lead experienced climbers or take complete beginners out to try their hand at scaling the cliffs. While the park is open year-round, mid-April through October is peak climbing season.
Ein Prat, Israel
This outdoorsmen's dream is not far from Jerusalem. Springs emerge from the dusty ground and pour through the steep-sided Ein Prat canyon, which is fringed by green vegetation and inhabited by appreciative wildlife. The canyon is often singled out as Israel’s finest climbing spot, and beginners and pros alike venture here to take on the limestone challenges. Also of note is the Russian Orthodox Faran Monastery, which is carved into the cliffs here.
As with other great climbs in the region, such as the cliffs of the Arbel National Park, climbing in Ein Prat can be done throughout the year.
Pembrokeshire Coast, Wales
Stretching along Wales’ wild western edge, the Pembrokeshire coast boasts more than its fair share of stunning remote beaches and towering cliffs. And where there are cliffs, there are climbers. In fact, Pembrokeshire is one of the world’s top climbing destinations, featuring more than 3,000 routes, ranging from grueling technical crags to more straightforward beginner ascents.
The region’s most iconic crag is the Huntsman’s Leap, a narrow, sheer-sided chasm carved between two limestone cliffs. But this is far from the only draw; this beautiful corner of the United Kingdom reveals dozens of compelling climbs. Out of breeding season, you can join the protected cliff-nesting choughs, peregrines and ravens on crags such as Sea Mist, Threadneedle Street and Razzle Dazzle. Highly qualified guides are on hand to help you develop your techniques or take on a brand new challenge.
Tonsai is a long narrow strip of beach near Krabi in Thailand, famed the world over for its sport climbing and bouldering routes. Visitors descend on this cliff-strewn coastal resort as much for the rock formations and far-reaching views, as they do for the laid-back atmosphere and sunshine.
Almost all of the routes here are sport climbs, among them many demanding overhangs. Tonsai’s biggest challenges are found along the beach, with crags such as Railay top on most climbers’ lists. Vast beach boulders make for some excellent bouldering, with soft, powdery sand helping to cushion falls.
The island of Kalymnos is Greece at its most perfect – think great bare mountains, verdant valleys and coastal villages where white and blue buildings tumble down to the sea. The laid-back island draws climbers from across the world to tackle some not very laid-back climbs with mesmerizing ocean views. Indeed, Kalymnos boasts one of the highest concentrations of sports routes anywhere on the planet, with some 3,000 routes found across 65 crags. On the main island, the biggest clusters of crags can be found above villages along the east and north coasts, but out on the tiny car-free island of Telendos, less than a mile off Kalymnos’ western coast are some newly developed cave climbs, which are perfect for the hot summer months.
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