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major climbing destinations-where are they?

Original Post
richard aiken · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 0

Which climbing areas around the world can be considered 'destinations' i.e. places to which climbers travel far and stay for weeks or longer? I am not asking about the best or biggest climbing areas. I also am only interested in places where there is a central climbers hang out i.e. campground or cabins or whatever ( 4, HVC, Miguel's...and not places where most or all climbers go home at night. Also only places which attract thousands of climbers each year. I am only interested in technical rock, not mountaineering and so I would exclude any long/alpine approaches. I am (of course) somewhat arbitrary so feel free to be, too, but please give justifications.

To give an idea of the type of places I want to know about, here are what I consider to be some major destinations. Since some readers might not know the climber's slang or common names, I will use the real or official names.


Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Bishop

Red Rock

Indian Creek (Are any of the areas in Salt Lake destinations- American Fork, Big or Little Cottonwood? How about Maple? Is St. George?)

Tetons. (any others in Wyoming? Do many climbers go to Ten Sleep or Wild Iris or Wind River for long stays?)

Devil's Tower

Smith Rock

Red River (not the New and not Seneca)


Gunks (OK, not really good hang out areas but people do go from all over the world)



Squamish, Canmore


Potrero chico

Are there any in South America which attract from overseas? I know about Frey, Torres del Paine... but they don't get large numbers.


Arapiles (Blue Mountains are too spread out and don't get the numbers)


Rocklands (the other areas are terrific but don't get the numbers)


El Chorro, Siurana, Margalef, Rodellar. Any others with large quantities of climbers?


Chamonix, Ailefroide, Calanaques,Buoux, Verdon, Fontainebleau (IMO Ceuse and the other great areas don't get the numbers-am I incorrect? Did I miss any?)


Arco, Finale Ligure (IMO Sardinia and the other good areas don't get big numbers)


Kalymnos (I don't think Meteora or anywhere else gets big numbers)


Geyikbayiri  (does Olimpos or anywhere have big numbers?)




Krabi-Tonsai, Railey + maybe Phi Phi?

OK, let's have them! What did I miss?


Does Jordan get large numbers in Wadi Rum?

[popular sites which are not IMO destinations: Needles (Calif.), Eldorado Canyon, most other Coloradoareas since they are too spread out; Hueco Tanks-too restricted;Cochise; City of Rocks-not huge quantities of climbers even though I love the place; New Zealand doesn't get the numbers; Vietnam and Laos don't qualify, and not anywhere else in southeast Asia. UK doesn't have the hang outs or the weather. ]

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0

Depends on what you consider destination. HP40 in Alabama we have driven multi states away to get to multi times but overall a very small area compared to alot of areas you list. Alot of other areas that are much small but have driven hours away and run into lots of other climbers to hang out with when there.

vincent L. · · Redwood City · Joined Jan 2005 · Points: 560

I think you can make a good argument that Colorado is a climbing destination for a lot of people...

richard aiken · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 0

As I wrote, thousands of climbers

Colorado is many areas, not a single destination. Lots of great climbing there but not what I am trying to include here


vincent L. · · Redwood City · Joined Jan 2005 · Points: 560

I'd call Eldorado Canyon a destination, plus it's historical importance in American rock climbing. I'd also include the Needles in South Dakota...

Hank Caylor · · Glenwood Springs, CO · Joined Dec 2003 · Points: 615

Riglos, Spain. They have a few 5.11+ testpieces but three 1,000' loafs of mega-classic 5.9's, 10's as well as the 11's. There might even be a 12 or two but mainly on the more moderate side. And drop dead gorgeous views with minimal approaches to the crags, and a climbers bar and refugio right there. <------- feast your eyes!

edit~ I personally think the New River Gorge is my favorite crag in the USA. Miles of routes, great approaches, civilized camping galore, DWS in the Summer and every 100yds or so is a cool ass crack climb and these never seem to get the attention the thousands of sport routes get. Routes range from every grade you could think of, almost, and with all the whitewater rafting and kayaking you get a good mixed crowd of other user groups.

^^^^^^^^ Unique culinary choices too!^^^^^^

Alan Zhan · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 65

Hueco Tanks?

simplyput . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60

Hampi, India: Serious dirtbag ClubMed.

Geyikbayiri, Turkey

Yangshuo, China

Ten Sleep, WY

Lander, WY

City of Rocks, ID (I dunno, but there is dirtbag pizza joint so it must count)

richard aiken · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 0

Vincent-is there a hang out near Eldo? I never came across one. Same Q for Needles (and Needles doesn't get large numbers-unbelievably good friction there!)

Hank-I listed the Red. Riglos-what kind of numbers of visitors? Any campground or hang out nearby? Never been there myself.

Alan-thanks for the spelling note-corrected now!

Simply-I never went to Hampi but isn't that only bouldering? Does it get lots of climbers? I also never climbed in Yangshuo-does it get lots and is there a hang out there?

I listed the other ones you added.

thanks guys, keep 'em coming

Zach Holt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 100

Ten Sleep brewing company has a cheap climbers campground, cheap showers, and well, beer. I’m not sure it’s quite like camp 4 or Miguel’s, but I think you can find hoards of climbers there occasionally. Mostly though, there are just hundreds of Sprinters and other amazingly nice dirtbag homes throughout the canyon. I wonder if these are killing the local hangouts a bit? 

Also, Smith rock has skull hollow campground as kind of an unofficial climbers campground. 

simplyput . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60

Hordes of dirty hippie climbers in Hampi. The Goan Corner is the Miguel's of the area and while everyone comes for the bouldering, there are trad and 'sport' routes as well albeit not many of them. Badami has great sport climbing (unless you're Nico Favresse of course), is a couple hours away from Hampi but has no 'scene'.
Yangshuo sees hundreds of foreign climbers every season and even though the climbing is just outside of town, Yangshuo proper is small enough to feel like an oversized Dali-esque campground. The Rusty Bolt and Climbers Inn are the two most notable climber-centric establishments, but the whole town is really accommodating to the lifestyle.

Seth Kane · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 111

For South America, Huaraz in Peru and El Chalten in Argentina (Id say Frey too)? Central Alaska Range? 

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 788

What on earth is the appeal of "thousands of climbers", anyway?

FWIW, climbers are the large majority of visitors to City of Rocks. Some of the other places, like Yosemite, simply have a large number of visitors, even if climbers are one of the groups. What are you aiming to do?

Idaho thanks you for keeping us off a list, though. Much appreciated!

Best, OLH

Patrik · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 30
Scottmx426 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0
Seth Kane wrote:

For South America, Huaraz in Peru and El Chalten in Argentina (Id say Frey too)? Central Alaska Range? 

El chalten for sure. 

richard aiken · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 0

seth-I noted Frey but it and the other places you listed: do they get lots of climbers from far away? I know they get some but I haven't been to any of those.

OLH- the appeal is not large numbers; the large numbers reflect the appeal. that is what I am trying to identify. I did list the City-reread my list. It is about my 4th favorite climbing place on earth. But doesn't get large numbers from far away.

Patrick- I am seeking facts, not wishes! What you wrote about Vedauwoo indicates that it doesn't qualify for what I am seeking. Definitely not the Lofotens. Not much volume there. Unbelievably beautiful. One of the truly unique landscapes on earth.

Scottmx426 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0

Richard, to clarify... the “destination” must have have a qualifying “hangout” spot to make the list? All climbing areas are unique. Red rock doesn’t really have a quality hang out campground like camp 4 or hidden valley but deserves to be on a list.  A lot of climbers get cheap motels or Airbnb. 

Also, Eldo although not my favorite climbing is very close to Boulder and about 10-15 minutes from TONS of climbing in either Eldorado and Boulder canyon.

Eric Carlos · · Chattanooga, TN · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 40

Some obvious ones left off the list are Rifle CO, Wild Iris WY, Shelf Road CO, and Rocktown GA.

dsauerbrun · · Boulder · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 55

you finally climb everything in el chorro, richard haha? Out of curiousity, are you trying to put together a book or something? Rock and Road is a decent book that has a nice compilation.

Cory Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 947

Canada - Bugaboos. 

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535
vincent L. wrote:

I'd call Eldorado Canyon a destination, plus it's historical importance in American rock climbing. I'd also include the Needles in South Dakota...

Sorry, people don't travel to climb in Eldo. It's a cool spot if you're in the area to climb in the Park or as part of a circuit of the other areas, but Eldo isn't big enough or traveler friendly enough to be considered a major destination. 

Id say Maple is gaining a good bit of popularity. I had several friends stay there for a month this past season. Same with Ten Sleep, the City and the New. Do any of these stack up against places like red rock, jtree, and the red? Probably not, but they are still quite popular. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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