For many travelers, every trip is a new adventure. Traversing a stunning rock formation on a mountainside, climbing prodigious boulders, and ascending icy, snow-capped peaks provides a natural challenge for those who thrive on adrenaline. Although there are a number of amazing rock climbing destinations the world over, a few simply stand out from the crowd.
1. El Capitan, Yosemite National Park El Capitan, the iconic granite monolith that stands guard 3,000 feet above Yosemite National Park in California, has long been a favorite spot for rock climbers from across the globe. This towering structure has approximately 100 routes to the summit, leaving open a seemingly endless range of possibilities for visitors who desire to scale this impressive formation. Even though most climbers who ascend El Capitan are equipped with the proper safety gear, climbing it is definitely not an experience for the faint of heart.
2. Salbitschijen, Switzerland
Home to an array of stunning landscapes, most notably the world-famous Alps, Switzerland offers no shortage of exciting experiences for rock climbers throughout the world. Salbitschijen, a mountain peak near Andermatt in central Switzerland, offers twenty-five distinctive routes totaling 1,000 meters. While a popular climb takes visitors to the needle-shaped spire at the mountain’s summit, the well-bolted Klettergartens, or climbing gardens, are shorter routes on which beginners and experts alike can test their mettle.
3. Railay Peninsula, Thailand
Climbers seeking a more offbeat experience, and definitely a more adventurous one, will find the Railay Peninsula in western Thailand to their liking. This tropical paradise is home to some of the world’s most spectacular coastal cliffs, with splendid views of the crystalline Andaman Sea. Many of the climbing routes in the region have colorful names, such as the Groove Tube at Tonsai, not to mention the Medusa’s Lover and Knights in White Satin at nearby Railay East. The Knights in White Satin route, albeit challenging, is incredibly rewarding if taken into account the magnificent views of the Thai coastline from atop the cliff.
4. La Esfinge, Peru
Not bearing any resemblance to the Egyptian monument that shares its name, La Esfinge (“The Sphinx”) is a majestic rock formation in Peru that is also, unsurprisingly, one of South America’s premier rock climbing destinations. The Sphinx towers above the surrounding landscape at 17,470 feet in elevation, and features a vertical granite wall ranging anywhere from 2,460 to 3,280 feet in height. The mighty Sphinx offers a plethora of climbing routes, many of which have only been completed once. One of the most challenging trails is the aptly named Riddle of the Cordillera Blanca, referring to the mountain range in which La Esfinge is situated. Although the surrounding Huarascan National Park is open year-round, the best time to scale the splendid formation is from mid-June to early August.
5. Wharepapa, New Zealand
New Zealand is a country rich in diverse landscapes and the charming pastoral region of Wharepapa is no exception. Despite its name, the Secret Valley crag is no secret, as tourists the world over flock to this area for climbs such as the Assassination Wall, the Surrealist Wall, and the otherworldly-sounding Cosmic Wall. At the Sheridan Hills crag, the Chunderosa Buttress plays host to more challenging trails, including the Ball ‘N Chain and Cry Wolf. For those climbers just starting out or who need a quick refresher before their expeditions, the nearby Rock House is an indoor climbing facility that offers lessons and is a favorite with children and families.