Climbing in a new place, especially a new country, is always an adventure and planning it should be part of the fun. Over the years, I’ve climbed in a number of different countries including the US, England, Scotland, Wales, Spain, and France. Whether your sights are set on multi-pitch climbing in the Dolomites or deep water soloing in Kalymnos, these tips will help you make the most of your trip.
Decide the When and Where
The first thing you’re going to want to do is decide what climbing you actually want to do and the time of year you can go. If you want to climb long sport pitches while wearing a t-shirt in December, Scotland is likely not for you. Figure out what’s most important to you (are you desperate to get to Spain? Are you only able to travel in June?), then find somewhere that aligns with what you want.
Do Your Research (Like Any Other International Trip)
Same as any international trip, you’re going to want to research the country. Do you need a visa? Is there a language barrier? What currency do they use? What’s the culture like? Where should you stay? Whether or not you’re climbing, these questions stay the same.
Get a Guidebook
While you can find a lot of information on sites like Mountainproject and UKClimbing, you’ll get more reliable information with a guidebook. Additionally, most guidebooks will give a good explanation of the area’s grading system and how it compares to other places (often something similar to this chart). A guidebook can also help you assess with your climbing partner or group what level you want to climb and what’s realistic. Plus, guidebooks often give good suggestions for accommodations, pubs, and local supermarkets.
Once you’ve decided on an area, UKClimbing can offer recommendations for a good guidebook to get. Make sure to get the latest version so you can get the most information on any new routes.
To make sure you get the most out of your time, it helps to already have an idea of some routes you want to do before you get there. Pull out some sticky notes and that guidebook and start bookmarking routes that get you excited. Again, be realistic about this list — if you’re there for a week, you may not have the time to get to 15 different multi-pitch climbs. You’ll also want to keep this plan flexible. It might rain one (or five) days or you might find a route you want to project and skip the others on your list.
Gear to Pack vs. Gear to Buy
It’s nice to have your own gear because you know where it’s been and you’re comfortable with it. However, lugging around that much gear can get exhausting especially if you’re doing any non-climbing travel. Some gear you may decide you want to buy when you get there to avoid bringing on the plane or carrying around for the rest of your trip.
Regardless of how well you plan, something will likely not go the way you want it to. That’s part of the excitement of travelling! Enjoy the unexpected moments (or laugh about them later).