"Smith Rock" by Brookpeterson via Flickr Creative Commons

The climbing world is growing and expanding at a rapid rate. Tour operators are expanding their catalogs for climbers every year, opening up new routes and testing out new climbs. The classic climbs of North America and Europe are now being overshadowed by new climbs in places like Africa and South America that see just a handful of climbers in the average month. The big climbs still attract the biggest crowds, but sometimes that is exactly what a climber doesn’t want.

  1. Smith Rock, Oregon The birthplace of modern sport climbing has more than a 1,000 different routes, many of the most challenging on the planet, that have been climbed by some of the best in the sport.
  2. Krabi, Thailand The vertical limestone crags that rise directly out of the Andaman Sea are some of the finest tropical climbs in the world. Check out Rai Ley Beach for several world class routes.
  3. Milner Amphitheatre, South Africa This double tiered orange rock face in the Hex River Mountains sits beside a 2,000 foot waterfall. Loads of challenging free climbs makes this the best climbing in South Africa.
  4. Golden Bay, New Zealand Considered the best limestone climbing in the Pacific, near Abel Tasman National Park. Highlights include the well known Payne’s Ford recreation area.
  5. Sardinia, Italy This small Italian island is quickly becoming Europe’s climbing paradise. Head to Gennargentu national park for several multi-pitch routes on limestone rock faces that hover above the Mediterranean.
  6. Moab, Utah Considered the Mecca for desert climbing, Moab has a great variety of climbs on the sandstone towers of the Colorado Plateau. It can get crowded, but the wide selection for beginners, moderate climbers, and bouldering is unparallel.
  7. Ulamertorsuaq, Greenland This 3,000 foot granite rock face, nicknamed the Big Cylinder, near Tasermiut Fjord in South Greenland is a favorite of many great climbers, but expect to shell out big bucks to get there.
  8. Hand of Fatima Group, Mali The five fingers of the Hand of Fatima in the Hombori Region of Mali has numerous 6 and 7 grade routes that only a small amount of skilled international climbers and adventurous locals have ever climbed.
  9. Tahquitz Rock, California In Socal near the town of Idyllwild, this massive rock has a 1,000 foot face that has been extremely popular with climbers for decades. Where the Yosemite Decimal grading system was developed. Sometimes called Lily Rock.
  10. El Capitan, California Yosemite’s El Capitan is a 3,000 foot vertical rock formation that rivals the Half Dome for favorite California climb. There are more than a dozen routes up the granite face, all of which are lengthy and complicated.

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