Posted on June 07 2016
Rock climbers are spoiled for choice here in the UK, with a dizzying array of spots for all climbing styles stretching from Cornwall to Yorkshire, up to Scotland and the Orkney Islands beyond. But sometimes you want to go further afield with your annual leave, so we've pulled together some of our favourites for your next big rock climbing trip.
The iconic limestone cliff faces of Ton Sai and Railay in the Thai province of Krabi offer ample opportunity for sport climbing, with over 700 bolted routes for all levels of experience. Beginners can start out on F4 routes, with grades up to F8c for the seasoned pros. For a wild and free climb experience, there are plenty of boats taking climbers on deep water soloing trips to scale overhangs and then plummet into the turquoise ocean. Krabi is a great choice if you're looking to combine a family holiday with a climbing trip, as any less adventurous family members can spend their days relaxing on white sandy beaches, cocktail in hand.
Costa Blanca, Spain
There's dramatic limestone cliff climbing closer to home, too. Spain's Costa Blanca is 200km of Mediterranean coastline boasting classic sport climbing of all grades across Calpe, Alicante, Alcoy and the Jalon Valley; bouldering in Montessa or on the beach at Platja Les Arenetes; plus spectacular deep water soloing opportunities all along the coast. After working up an appetite scaling crags, eat your way through the region's tapas offerings, or let loose exploring Alicante's nightlife.
The rocky Greek Islands have long been the playground of European climbers, and since the 90s the solid limestone island of Kalymnos has been a crown jewel. The island has 65 sports crags containing over 2,500 routes graded F4a to F9a, the majority of which provide spectacular views over the rugged island and the Aegean Sea. Most of the climbing spots are on Kalymnos' west coast and on the outlying island of Telendos, a 10-minute boat ride away. When you're not tackling extreme overhangs, swim in the clear waters from the island's beautiful pebbled beaches, feast on top-notch Greek seafood and don't forget to have an ouzo or two!
If you're planning an Australian climbing tour, make a beeline for Victoria's Grampians and Arapiles. Both areas are primarily formed from that famous Australian sandstone -- stunningly varied in colour and a wonder to climb. The areas are graded in the Aussie system, running from 1 to 37 -- read the descriptions to get a proper sense of each crag's challenges. Across these two areas, with more condensed routes at Arapiles mountain and the spread-out country terrain of the Grampians, you can play around with sport climbs, bouldering, trad climbs or a combination on any given day. Every climb is guaranteed to be complemented by Australia's unique flora and fauna -- kangaroos, wallabies, parrots and all sorts of reptiles abound.
Torres del Paine, Chile
If you want to really get away from it all, heed Patagonia's call and jump on a plane to Chile. The three granite towers of Torres del Paine are Chilean Patagonia's steepest peaks. As intimidating as that sounds, the region's not inaccessible to us mere mortals -- there are plenty of moderate routes on offer. If you're ready for long, alpine-style free climbing, train up, hire an experienced guide and prepare for the trip of a lifetime. Aside from the rush of conquering some of the world's most challenging terrain, you'll see waterfalls and glaciers and diverse ecosystems -- pumas, Patagonian grey foxes and rare bird species such as the Andean condor are all natives of the area.