How to Plan an Epic Climbing Trip

September 16, 2015

  • by
  • David Sandel

Planning a climbing trip? Going international? Follow these tips and you’re sure to have an experience of a lifetime.

Know Your Ability

The first step in planning a climbing getaway is coming to grips with your ability. You might want to climb Chile’s Torres del Paine, but if it’s your first year on a rope, picking a beginner friendly location like Colorado’s Boulder Canyon is a better idea. If you are only a 5.9 leader, don’t pick an area where the warm-up routes start at 5.11. No brainer, right?

Know Your Style

If you’re all about alpine climbing and trad routes, going to legendary bouldering destination Rocklands (South Africa) is a bad idea. Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range, WY, would be a better choice. Pick your destination based on your ambitions as well as your skills.

Figure out Logistics

Road tripping? Flying? Riding the rails? Your mode of transportation dictates how much gear you can bring. If you’re heading to Chamonix, France and packing accordingly (double rack, twin ropes, ice axe and crampons) you might have to ship gear ahead of time or prepare to pay airline baggage fees. However, if you’re roadtripping to El Potrero Chico in Mexico, you can stuff that trunk to capacity.

Know What Inspires You

What are you accustomed to climbing? Do you want a change of pace? A change of scenery? Is weather a factor for you? Will the beach life and overhung limestone in Tonsai, Thailand get you motivated to go out and crush everyday? Or would you rather visit Indian Creek in Utah to climb vertical splitter cracks in the desert? What about the potentially gray skies and green forests of Squamish? Know what inspires you and plan accordingly.

Figure it out solo or leave it to the pros?

Depending on your climbing partners, skills and experience, you may want to hire a guide service. Even if you are a seasoned sport climber that wants to see the world from the top of the Grand Teton in Wyoming, Exum Guides based out of Jackson Hole has climbing packages that only require you to bring personal clothing, climbing shoes, food, and water. They provide everything else including a semi-permanent hut on the upper saddle, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, rope, harness and few other necessities. Conversely, you may be an experienced alpinist and feel like wandering aimlessly, looking for picturesque boulders in Fontainebleu, France sans guides.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Ultimately, you’re a climber with a list of dream destinations. Choose one that balances what inspires you with the realities and logistics of travel. Make sure you don’t overestimate your abilities. After all, if you can’t climb anything, what’s the point?

When it comes down to it, ask yourself, “Where do I want to go, and why?”

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