They say that once you start rock climbing, you’ll never look back – and not just because you don’t want to suffer from vertigo. Outdoor rock climbing is addictive in the best possible sense. You’re pitting yourself against nature, using all of your strength, skill, courage, and stamina to master some of the most stunning and challenging landscapes in the world. The sense of triumph and exhilaration felt when you finally conquer a difficult climb is often only matched by the beauty of nature visible from the peak.

For those relatively new to climbing it’s important to be properly prepared, and experienced climbers will also know how crucial it is to do your research. That means finding out all you can in advance about your planned climbing destination. You should look at all the possible routes and seek out information from those who’ve already climbed them. Of course, you want to push yourself, but be realistic about your capabilities and experience, and don’t choose a route you won’t be able to manage.

Getting the right equipment and clothing for your destination is vital. Besides your essential equipment, suitable for the type of climbs you intend to do, the climate in your intended location will affect your choice of clothing. The list should include professional climbing boots. Compression gloves are also a good idea as they provide relief for your hand and finger muscles and are available in half and full finger options.

 

 

Orpierre, France

This tiny village in the Haute Provence region of France is dedicated to climbing, with almost 30 new pitches established every year. There are over 650 different routes suitable for various levels of experience, and a combination of provincial and Alpine crags that provide a range of unique challenges whichever way you go. Shops selling all the equipment you need are right there in the village, and it’s just 350 miles from Ceuse, the French mountain considered to be the country’s best sports crag.

 

Dolomites, Italy

These famous mountains present numerous challenging climbs amid spectacular breathtaking scenery. Multi-pitch trails stretch up to 250 ft. amid the towering calcareous walls. Unlike some climbing locations, the great advantage of the Dolomites is that you can practically drive up to the crags and spend a day climbing without the need to camp up.

 

 

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite offers a range of climbing options but is primarily known for one outstanding feature: El Capitan, which is considered to be one of the most difficult climbs in the world. This 3000ft sheer cliff is certainly not for beginners or even intermediate climbers, however, for the experienced and ambitious this is a challenge that cries out to be accepted. For those looking for a more relaxed climb, the dome-like formations of the sun-kissed Tuolumne Meadows are very inviting.

 

Acadia National Park, Maine

Staying in the states, the coastal cliffs of Maine are a popular and exciting climbing destination. Often, as in the case of the 100-foot Otter Cliff, you have to rappel down before you can climb up again, providing an extra layer of interest and excitement.

 

 

Railay Beach, Thailand

This island location, only accessible by boat, claims to be a climber’s paradise. It certainly looks the part, with white limestone cliffs towering over a blue sea. Thousands of different routes provide challenges for climbers of all levels of experience, suitable for everything from bouldering to sports climbing.

 

Rocklands, South Africa

The Cederberg Mountains are just a few hours’ drive from Cape Town, set in a forbidding desert landscape. You’ll need a permit to climb, but this is still a very popular destination for bouldering and sports climbing, with many single pitch routes for climbers of all different skill levels. Multi-pitch routes are somewhat thinner on the ground. Be wary of the grain sandstone on which you’ll be climbing because it can cause cuts to exposed skin.

 

The Peak District, United Kingdom

While some may prefer the Scottish Highlands, the Peak District in Central England is claimed by some to be Britain’s best climbing destination. There are thousands of routes for climbers of all levels and a wide variety of rock types. A particular favorite is Gritstone Edges in Stanage, with no cams or nuts, just cracks for hand and footholds. Look out too for the many old quarries in the area.

 

Wherever you choose to go, always be sure to stay safe and listen to local guides and experienced climbers. Climbing isn’t about taking unnecessary risks but about being prepared. Do your research thoroughly and go forth to have the climb of your life.

 

Image credits – Orpierre, Yosimite & Railay Beach