Do you have a head for heights? Then take a look at these vertigo-inducing climbing destinations, where you can scramble up rock faces, conquer mountain peaks, traverse immense canyons and clamber over gigantic boulders all in the name of holiday fun.
Rocky Mountains, Colorado
The Rockies present a number of thrilling climbing destinations, and whether you are an expert free climber with the best grip, or a novice looking for a gentle introduction ascent, Colorado has them all. The Casual Route, in the Rocky Mountain National Park, offers over 1,000 feet of vertical rock climb in some of America’s most picturesque surroundings. The views from the very peak, more than 14.259 feet above sea level, are astounding, with a million acres of coniferous forest in view, and more than a dozen similar sized mountains in the vicinity. Colorado also happens to be a superb place to host a youth camp, as white-water rafting, hiking and outdoor camping can all be arranged in state.
Lung Tung, Taiwan
Taiwan is perhaps not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of premier, world-class rock climbing, but this island is almost entirely mountainous, and boasts a stunning variety of climbs. One of the most photogenic, not to say death-defying, is Lung Tung, a dramatic sea-side cliff climb not far from Taipei on the north-east coast of the country. Known as the Dragon Cave, climbers will hear the crash of the waves below them, and feel the immense spray of the sea at their backs as they ascend the sheer vertical cliff-faces. The rocks here are also studded with caves and caverns, populated by marine bird species, and a good place to stop for a rest on your way up.
The Spitzkoppe range has to be one of the most bewildering mountain formations in the world. Rising from flat desert, the red granite peaks here take all sorts of dramatic shapes, with natural bridges and arches, smooth plateaus and jagged outcrops all clustered together. As a result, this sun-drenched corner of Africa happens to be home to some of the greatest rock climbs on earth. Before the 1970s ascents here usually took two or even three days, but now organised teams led by experienced climbers can reach the 5857 peak in less than a day.
The mighty Alps are Europe’s highest mountain range and cleave the continent in two. While many of the most famous peaks are in nations such as Austria and Switzerland, it is in France that many of the more dramatic, and most challenging climbs, are to be found. Indeed Europe’s tallest mountain, Mont Blanc, sits on the French side of the border. Yet this imperious peak is no easy ascent, with plenty of the routes uphill posing real danger to novice climbers. Over 100 people a year die in the immediate vicinity of the Mont Blanc Massif, making this unassuming mountain the most deadly on the planet. Of course, some routes are easier than others, and walking around it at a more gentle incline ensures that climbers avoid many of the most treacherous vertical ascents. The Voie Des Cristalliers is the most popular way to reach the snowy and icy summit, though unstable ground underfoot means there is always a chance of rock falls or the earth giving way underneath you. The best way to master Mont Blanc, however, is to use the assistance of experienced guides who will point out the best ways to avoid pitfalls. The lower reaches of the Massif are also fine for younger climbers, making this area a great base for an adventurous youth camp or summer camp.
Photo by jeffk on Flickr.com. Used under Creative Commons Licence.