The Best Rock Climbing Destinations On Earth

It's a sport that requires physical strength and mental fortitude. If you're a keen climber and looking for a fresh challenge, head to these spots on your next holiday
A mountain in Wadi Rum, Jordan
A mountain in Wadi Rum, JordanWikimedia Commons: Daniel Case

When Alex Honnold made his daring ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, it was a feat that captured the world's attention. A testament to human strength and the indomitable spirit, his free-solo climb was 3,000 feet high. Because of the global popularity of the sport, climbing made its debut at the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics as a combined event featuring speed climbing, bouldering, and lead climbing.

Rock climbing requires physical strength, mental agility, and a love for adventure. This thrilling activity pushes climbers to conquer heights while relying solely on their skills, endurance, and the equipment that keeps them tethered to the rock face.

Hence, proper training, a knowledge of techniques and the local conditions, and having the right equipment are prerequisites to ensuring a safe and enjoyable climbing experience. Seeking guidance from experienced climbers or local guides can greatly enhance the overall experience and ensure a memorable and safe climbing journey.

For those seeking the ultimate rock climbing destinations, here is a list of our top five destinations.

El Capitan In The United States Of America

Nestled amid the Sierra Nevada Mountains, El Capitan boasts sheer granite faces that attract climbers from far and wide. With its striking vertical walls and multi-pitch routes, this colossal monolith provides a challenge even to seasoned climbers. The views of Yosemite Valley and the surrounding wilderness make this destination a rock climber's paradise.

How to get there: By road you can travel on Highway 120 or 140 into Yosemite National Park from the west. There's also a south entrance at Wawona, an entrance on the northwest into the Hetch Hetchy Valley and an eastern entrance at the Tioga Pass that's only accessible in the summer.

The closest airport to the park is Fresno-Yosemite International Airport, some two and a half hours to Yosemite Valley. You can also consider Oakland International Airport or San Francisco International Airport.

El Capitan in Yosemite National Park
El Capitan in Yosemite National ParkWikimedia Commons: Jarek Tuszynski

The Peak District In The United Kingdom

Famous for its rugged terrain, the Peak District in England offers many rock climbing opportunities. The gritstone and limestone cliffs present a variety of routes suitable for climbers of different skill levels. From traditional climbing on Stanage Edge to sport climbing at Chee Dale, this region caters to all preferences. The dramatic landscapes add to the appeal of this rock climbing destination.

How to get there: There are lots of local buses that ply the route between the Peak District and Derbyshire county. The M1 and M6 motorways provide fast and easy access by car. The M62, M42, M60, M56, M67 and M18 can also be used.

Taking the train from London's St Pancras International will take two hours to reach Derby. If you're flying, touchdown at Manchester Airport, East Midlands Airport, or Birmingham Airport and continue onward to Derby via train and buses.

A view of the Peak District in England
A view of the Peak District in England

Kalymnos In Greece

Situated in the Aegean Sea, Kalymnos is a Greek island renowned for its limestone cliffs and exceptional climbing conditions. With over 2,000 climbing routes, ranging from beginner-friendly slabs to challenging overhangs, Kalymnos provides endless opportunities for climbers to test their skills. The island's beautiful beaches, clear blue waters, and traditional Greek hospitality provide memorable experiences for adventure-seeking climbers.

How to get there: Kalymnos Island National Airport is an hour's flight away from Athens International Airport. You can also take a 10-hour trip to the island by ferry from Athens.

Climbing the cliffs of Kalymnos
Climbing the cliffs of KalymnosFlickr: Michael Lamprinos

Mount Arapiles In Australia

Located in the Australian state of Victoria and part of Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park, the area is a rock climbing destination known for its majestic granite formations. Mount Arapiles offers a diverse range of climbing styles, from crack climbing to face climbing, and caters to climbers of all abilities. The striking rock formations, expansive views of the surrounding Wimmera plains, and rich indigenous history make it an attractive destination for rock climbers

How to get there: Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park is 334km northwest of Melbourne, with access via the Wimmera Highway and Centenary Park Road. Land at Melbourne Airport if travelling by plane.

Mount Arapiles in Victoria
Mount Arapiles in VictoriaWikimedia Commons: Ed Dunens

Wadi Rum In Jordan

Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon, is a desert landscape in southern Jordan that presents a one-of-a-kind rock climbing experience. The sandstone cliffs have been carved by wind and time and offer challenging crack and face climbs. Climbers can marvel at the otherworldly beauty of the vast desert with its towering rock formations and beautiful sunsets. For those who prefer assistance, local Bedouin guides can be sought for expert aid and cultural insights.

How to get there: A car ride from Amman to Wadi Rum takes four to five hours and a bus ride six to eight hours. Land at Queen Alia International Airport if flying into Jordan.

A view of Wadi Rum valley
A view of Wadi Rum valleyWikimedia Commons: hikinginjordan

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