Rock climbing is a sport practiced worldwide. Even the smallest and most controlled rock climbing courses pose serious threats. After all, you rock climb with minimal equipment, and sometimes no equipment at all! The variety of rock climbing courses is huge. You can choose to rock climb in the completely controlled environment of a rock climbing gym, or you can choose to climb outside on some of the world’s tallest and rigid rock formations. Although we covered the best places in the world to go rock climbing for beginners, those places tend to be too easy for more advanced rock climbers. Advanced rock climbers want to experience extreme rock climbing. Advanced rock climbers often want higher heights and higher stakes. Thus, we have created a list of the top 15 places for extreme rock climbing!
Extreme Rock Climbing
First on our list is the infamous Black Canyon! Located in Colorado’s Gunnison National Park, Black Canyon is only suitable for extreme rock climbing! Black Canyon includes 145 routes with the deepest section of the canyon being 2,722 feet (this can be found at Warner Point). Also, Black Canyon is home to Colorado’s tallest vertical wall, Painted Wall, which sits at 2,250 feet. While there are 145 extreme rock climbing routes to choose from, most people choose to climb near the North and South Chasm Walls.
Located in the Cayman Islands, Cayman Brac is a vacation destination full of wildlife, breathtaking blue waters, and world-class climbing. Oh, and did we mention that it has a laid back vibe? Everyone pretty much keeps to themselves, so you can spend every hour of your vacation extreme rock climbing and soaking up the sun. While Cayman Brac has a few different places to rock climb, the most popular is located on The Bluff. The Bluff is a limestone that spans almost the entire length of the island. So, while traveling through the island you will see the ocean on one side, and The Bluff on the other side. Aside from The Bluff, there are six other rock climbing areas. While all of the courses found in Cayman Brac are challenging and advanced, the most rigorous courses are found on The Bluff and Love Shack Wall.
Located in Patagonia, Cerro Torre is famous for its compressor route. We know that Patagonia offers some amazing options for extreme rock climbing, but the best is Cerro Torre. There are multiple faces on Cerro Torre, but the most popular one is the east face. Not to mention that Cerro Torre sits at a casual 10,262 feet! Thus, you have to have a lot of courage and skill to be able to successfully rock climb, Cerro Torre.
Sitting at approximately 5,100 feet, Devil’s Tower is not for the faint of heart! Located in Wyoming, Devil’s Tower is home to some of the best extreme rock climbing routes in the United States. The openness of Devil’s Tower enables you to rock climb on the various cracks and columns from any side of the rock formation. Since you can rock climb virtually every- inch of Devil’s Tower, some areas are easier than others.
Located in California in the infamous Yosemite National Park, it was thought to be impossible to climb El Captain. Nicknamed ‘El Cap’, El Captain is a 3,000-foot rock formation. It has two faces, one southwest, and one southeast. There is a humongous prow that sits between the two faces. While there are plenty of extreme rock climbing routes on both faces, the most popular, and one of the more rigorous routes, is The Nose. The Nose will challenge you to climb the humongous prow!
Located in Spain, El Chorro is home to thousands of rock climbing courses. There are so many rock climbing courses, which you can even pick up a copy of the top 50 rock climbing routes in the El Chorro climbing shop. Some of the most popular and rigorous courses are; Poema del Roca, a huge rock formation that towers over the town center, Amptrax, an eight-pitch course that is mostly bolted, and Makinodromo, home to huge and overhung routes.
Located in Greece, Kalymnos is a popular tourist attraction. Aside from the gorgeous architecture, crystallized blue water, and adorable boutiques, Kalymnos is home to world renowned extreme rock climbing routes. Since there are a ton of rock climbing routes, be sure to check out the guidebook. One area that you have to check out is Grande Grotta! It should be noted that there have been some accounts of loose bolts in Kalymnos. So, if you are planning a rock climbing trip to Kalymnos, it would be wise to further research these claims.
Located in Quebec, Kamouraska is home to one rock formation that overlooks miles of bright green forests and fields. Although Kamouraska only has one rock formation (well, one that is suitable for extreme rock climbing), the courses on the formation tend to be challenging, since the rock is varied. It is advised to get the guidebook, as the routes are varied, and it can be difficult to tell where to climb without a little bit of help. While you have a ton of different routes to choose from, the most popular are; Tintin au Tibet, Prestation aerienne, and Le monde a l‘envers. Kamouraska is also a popular extreme rock climbing location because of its proximity to the northeast region of the United States (it is only a 14-hour drive from Boston).
It should be noted that most of the population in Kamouraska speaks French as their first language. While most of the population also know English, they do appreciate it when tourists make an effort to converse in French. Also, since the prominent language is in French, the signs and information around Kamouraska (along with the rock climbing routes) will be in French. Thus, it will benefit you if you can speak and read, even a little bit, of French.
Located in West Virginia, New River Gorge is home to over 1,600 climbs! With a wide diversity of routes, New River Gorge is on the United States’ most popular and challenging rock climbing areas. Some of the features In New River Gorge include; 30 to 120-foot sandstone cliffs and plenty of cracked and unique rock formations. Even though there is a few beginner routes, majority of the terrain is crafted towards extreme rock climbing.
Piedra Parada translates to “standing rock”, so it shouldn’t be shocking that Piedra Parada is a hotspot for extreme rock climbing! Located in the Patagonian region of Argentina, Piedra Parada provides rock climbers with world class routes, which transports rock climbers back to ancient times. If you plan to bring along a guidebook (which you should), then print one at home before your trip, as it is difficult to find guidebooks nearby Piedra Parada. Although Piedra Parada is a smaller location, it boasts 27 walls, which are all suitable for rock climbing. With 27 walls, there are a ton of routes you can choose from. But, a few of the most popular and challenging routes are; El Sexto Elemento, La Penca, and La Calavera.
Located in Scotland, Rhapsody was the world’s first E11 traditional climb! So, there is a lot of history at Rhapsody. If you are looking for the most extreme of extreme rock climbing experience, then check out Rhapsody. You use natural protection and no bolts for the first stretch of the route. Then, climbers typically use no gear for the last 60 feet!
Finally, travel to the third largest British Virgin Island to relax and experience some extreme rock climbing! Virgin Gorda is home to crystal blue waters, white sand, and a lot of challenging places to rock climb. What makes rock climbing in Virgin Gorda more extreme than most places, is that there is little to no local rock climbing scene. Thus, you are pretty much on your own to navigate the various formations. While Virgin Gorda does offer more of an adventurous experience than most locations, there are a forums and blogs that tell you the best places to climb. Two of the most popular climbing locations are Hands Don’t Have Genders and Spring Bay Crack. So, I guess you aren’t completely on your own after all.
That concludes our list! There are a ton more suitable locations for extreme rock climbing, but the locations above are the best of the best. Every location offers something different than the other, whether it is the typical weather conditions, the town itself, or the rock formations. There are island extreme rock climbing locations, such as Virgin Gorda and Cayman Bac, and extreme rock climbing options in colder areas, such as Black Canyon. Overall, there is something for everyone on this list. Hopefully, you have found at least one extreme rock climbing location that is worthy for your rock climbing bucket list!