Help me select an international destination


Original Post
Eric K · · Washington · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45

Some time in 2018 my wife and I plan to go on a month long international climbing trip. We are planning pretty far ahead so we have time to adequately plan and save for it. My wife loves climbing but being apart of a new culture and experiencing a new place is probably more important to her. We live in Washington so BC is really the only place that we would not consider. We HOPE price will not really be much of an issue. Here is our criteria

Climbing-Single pitch sport. At the moment my wife is not really interested in anything else. We would love the climbing to be situated around some type of town/community. The plan is for us to be planted for close to month to really take in the local culture of the area

Food-Does the area have some good culinary culture to it. Does not matter if its german beer halls, amazing bakeries, or street food

Accomodations-We do A LOT of camping as it is so my wife has NO interest in camping on this trip. We would prefer renting a small apartment or staying a b&b type place

climate-I want good climbing conditions but I know my wife would love to be in an area thats does not require us to wear sweaters to stay warm while spending time in town

Carless-I would love to not need a car to get around and visit crags but thats not essential

Safe-The standards of what is "safe" for my wife are higher than most of us here (thats the privilege of being a male) so there needs to be some already established tourist type infrastructure if its outside Europe

Season-This is really up in the air right now but it will probably be late spring or early fall

Thanks for helping me come up with some ideas. I appreciate hearing about your experiences

llanSan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 130

CUBA, COLOMBIA, MEXICO. cool crags. safe and friendly people. rich in their own culture. and nice weather.

llanSan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 130

Did I mention CHEAP?

Mike Flanagan · · Redlands, CA · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 55

Sounds like all the same reason my wife and I decided on Kalymnos for this fall. Check it out

jason.cre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 10

Check out el chorro!

Eric K · · Washington · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45
Sanllan wrote:CUBA, COLOMBIA, MEXICO. cool crags. safe and friendly people. rich in their own culture. and nice weather.
My wife is VERY interested in Cuba, but I assumed that the climbing would be a bit too hot then. Could you tell me more about the areas in Colombia and Mexico your thinking of?

Mike, I am super interested in Kalymnos as well as the other islands like Sardina, or Mallorca
Bun Bunster · · Golden, CO · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 70
Mike Flanagan wrote:Sounds like all the same reason my wife and I decided on Kalymnos for this fall. Check it out
It really is hard to be the Greek Islands. The climbing sounds exactly like what you two are looking for, the rest, just rent a couple scooters and all the cute towns and great food are just minutes!
Nick Votto · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 320

Italy fits your bill perfectly, with the exception of needing a car, but that's cheap.

-More single pitch sport than you can climb in a lifetime
-Food, the best
-Airbnb a small villa for 50-100 per night depending where you are
-Climate, amazing. Especially in the spring and Fall
-Safe, yup

If you have any questions let me know. I'm there 2-3 times a year.
Good luck with the plan!

Leslie McG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 410
Sanllan wrote:CUBA, COLOMBIA, MEXICO. cool crags. safe and friendly people. rich in their own culture. and nice weather.
Cuba is NOT cheap. I found it as expensive, if not more so, than the US. Kalymnos is amazing and quite cheap. Morocco was surprisingly cheap as well.
Eric K · · Washington · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45
Nick Votto wrote:Italy fits your bill perfectly
Any specific regions your thinking of? I have always dreamed of climbing the big routes in the dolomites but thats not as much of an interest for my wife. Where would you recommend being based out of?
Nick Votto · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 320

Hey Erik,
How long are you guys looking to go? Italy isn't that big, so I'd highly recommend checking out a couple places. Even taking a flight or ferry out to Sardinia or Corsica (super cheap usually) would be sweet. You'd want to be based either in Finale Ligure area or north of Milano. I'd actually recommend doing Val di Mello, Gran Paradiso Park, Finale Ligure, and maybe even Calanques on the French Riviera. All really close areas.

BrianWS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 790

Yangshuo is a great destination that meets your criteria. It can be hot as hell in the dead of summer, but seems to meet the rest of your criteria - amazing single pitch, gorgeous landscape, great opportunity to experience new culture, great food, good cheap lodging, etc.

Getting there can be more expensive than Latin America or Europe, but it is very much worth it - a truly amazing place.

evan h · · Denver, CO · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 310

Ceuse in France was great! Awesome countryside, some of the best food and wine you can find, and remarkably cheap for what you would expect in Europe. There are plenty of amazing full-house rental options. Of course, the climbing is decent as well! We were there in early September. It's a shorter window for shade, but the conditions were perfect and the crowds were way less than summer prime season.

Yury · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0
Eric K wrote:Some time in 2018 my wife and I plan to go on a month long international climbing trip.
Please do not forget about (new) Mexico!
Charles Vernon · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 2,584

There are much better-known options in Mexico, but check out Guanajuato. The climbing, which is mostly single-pitch sport, is not well-known but I was really surprised by how high quality it was. There's not a ton of it, but enough to keep you busy for a month depending on what grade and how often you're climbing. The town is amazing, perhaps the most beautiful city I've ever spent time in, and it checks all your boxes--great culture, food, no need at all for a car to get around town or get to the crag, safe, mild climate, and finally tourist-friendly without being overwhelmingly gringo-fied, at least when I was there ten years ago.

If you were gunning for multi-pitch, then there are more obvious destinations in Mexico, but it might get frustrating for you doing nothing but single pitch at a place like Potrero.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95
BrianWS wrote: Yangshuo ... Getting there can be more expensive than Latin America or Europe, but it is very much worth it - a truly amazing place.
Regarding price, that actually isn't the case if flying from Seattle. Getting to Asia can be surprisingly cheap from SeaTac, and is actually almost always cheaper that Europe. I've been keeping an eye of prices to various destinations, and Seattle->Guilin (the airport an hour by public transit from Yangshou) is always quite reasonable. Last summer I almost pulled the trigger on tickets for a 2-week trip in early November, with $550 round trip airfare. As a test case, just now I looked on Google Flights for a 4-week trip in October 2017, and you could buy a flight for $730. Flights to Thailand or Vietnam are also often found in that price range as well. Getting to Europe or South America from SeaTac is almost always more expensive than that.

Haven't been yet, but by all accounts Yangshou offers lots of sport climbing, good fall weather, inexpensive guesthouses, a different culture, etc. I've heard from several people that the food isn't great. It is certainly on my short list.

There are many areas in Europe that would be great to consider as well. Spain (many areas), France (many areas...), Arco, Kalymnos, Frankenjura... All of these could fit your criteria (although not all of them would be possible with no car). There's a lot of climbing once you start thinking globally.
JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

Another important consideration is what grades you seek, for both you and your wife. This is a big factor I run into a lot in planning trips. Since I assume you'll be looking for 5.12-5.13, you'll be right in the sweet spot where you'll have lots to do at most major international sport climbing destinations. But is your wife also going to be climbing, and at what level?

As a trip planning example, my girlfriend and I were putting together a trip for this winter. 2 weeks, able to fly most places, ~February. The challenge us that I’m looking for routes in the 5.12-5.13 range, and she is looking for routes in the 5.7-5.9 range. This is easy to accommodate at some crags, but not so easy at others. In some (but not many) places we are both able to climb at adjacent walls (Smith is pretty good for this, actually). This is awesome, but hard to find. At some places we do spilt morning/afternoon sessions- we’ll go to a moderate wall for the morning and afternoon, and she’ll climb her routes and I’ll warm up, then in the evening we go to wherever I’m interested in, and I can do a few project burns in the cooler evening conditions. We do this a lot at Squamish, and it works out pretty well. Having a bunch of crags relatively close together, plus short approaches, is key to making this strategy work. At other areas alternating days is necessary, with is less ideal on many levels. And in some places it just wouldn’t work (total lack of easy climbing at Ceuse).

So, we have had to rule out visiting some areas, since they are quite limited in the 5.7-5.9 range. Other areas have been ruled out since the easy crags and the harder crags are just not very convenient to each other. So you have to choose wisely, and do significantly more in-depth research. We ended up deciding on Potrero for this winter, for the cheap airfare and the fact that the moderate crags and the harder crags are very close together. Even if we are only single pitch climbing, there is plenty for both of us for two weeks.

There are also some areas in Spain (Margelef, El Chorro, the Tres Ponts / Col de Nargo area) that are appealing since they offer a really favorable grade spread for both of us.

Not sure if this applies to your situation, but something to consider.

Stanley McKnight · · Paradise Valley, Arizona · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 268

Look into Mallorca and Barcelona Spain.

Spent a week and a half though in December. Food is awesome, weather was great in December but a little bit cold in the water. In the main city Palma there are plenty of accommodations and then along the west and east coast there are a lot of smaller towns where you can stay.

As far as climbing there are mountain to the west with a lot of sport climbing. Mallorca happens to also be the best place in the world (arguably) for deep water soloing if you want to try that out. Main DWS crags are on the east side of the island but even Palma has a little place where you can try it out. The island is small so you can drive across it in about an hour so you don't necessarily have to commit to one area.

It's a beautiful place with a unique culture and once again, GREAT food in my opinion. Definitely worth looking into.

I didn't actually go climbing while in Barcelona but I know there is also lots of cool limestone sport climbing somewhere in that area. Also great food and cool culture. Walking Las Ramblas and also seeing the Gaudi architecture is awesome.

Splitting time between these two places makes a great trip.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

One more thought- how locked in are you on that timing? Late spring or early fall is a nice time to visit a number of places, but it is also one of the best times to be in Leavenworth. Are you sure you want to skip out on the best season at home? I imagine there are other factors at play with that timing, of course. But it is really nice to use that vacation time to get away from the darkness of Washington winter and go somewhere sunny during February.

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 13,762

Southern Turkey in combo with Kalymnos might fit the bill...

What grade range are you looking for?

Alan Rubin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Over the years I've been to a lot of areas--mostly in Europe, that check many of your boxes--many of them listed above. As such, I have no hesitation recommending Kalymnos as the one that really is the best destination for your criteria, especially if your are thinking spring or fall. The only down sides are that it is a bit expensive and involved to get there (but very inexpensive once there) and can be crowded at peak season, but otherwise it is as close to perfect as you can wish for. El Chorro, Spain--just back from my second visit, also fits. You can fly into Malaga, a one hour train ride takes you to the village--with several accommodation options, and all the climbing areas are walkable. You can use the trains to get into towns for shopping and tourism. More limited single pitch than Kaly but still plenty to do. Best season is late fall-winter--early spring (though last week it snowed there for the first time in decades!!!--climbable the next day).Gayikibari, near Antalya, Turkey is another 'carless' option--the climbers accommodation can pick you up and return you to the airport. Some really good climbing and a very interesting place. Things were stable when we were there 8 years ago,and that region still seems OK, even though in general the situation in Turkey has now become a bit more unstable. Cala Gonone in Sardinia is good, but a long way from the airport and not all of the crags are easy to get to without a car. The same goes for many areas in southern France. Ceuse really is only worth it if you climb hard (12 and up) in my opinion. Not far from there is Orpierre with a lot of climbing within walking distance of accommodations but you have to get there (21/2 hours) from the airport in Nice. Similar situation in Italy. Finale is great, but far from an airport and you need a car to make the most of the area. Plenty to choose from--you really can't go wrong.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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