Top 7 Bouldering Destinations You’ve Never Thought of Visiting
As much as our local climbing venues hold a special place in our hearts, for many of us we still have a desire – no matter how good the climbing is where we live – to travel and check out what else the world has to offer.
As soon as we book the time off, the options become super obvious: Magic Wood, Rocklands, Albarracin, Fontainebleau, Chironico; these are the best in the world for a reason and should not be missed. But what if we wanted something different? What if we were looking for something off the beaten track that really shows us somewhere new and exciting?
For those of you that “Have Pad, Will Travel” here are my Top Seven Bouldering Venues you’ve Probably Never Thought of Visiting (that you really should).
Helsinki, the spiritual home of 27 Crag has far more than 27 Crags! Within the city itself are a multitude of destinations, from Taivaskallio (ideal for beginners or those searching for mileage) to Mellunmäki (with problems from 3 to 7c) all easily reachable on public transport. Venture a bit further afield and there is even more; enough for a lifetime!
For those so inclined, a pilgrimage to Lappnor to the East will let you see how impossible Nalle Hukkataival’s Burden of Dreams 9a really is. Alternatively, head West to the island of Åland for some more unbelievable lines in another stunning setting (for a sneak peak, search for “Bouldering Åland” in vimeo for a fantastic video by Vertical Axis).
Number of problems: 1000s
Variation: From 2 to 9a
Other notes: Excellent Premium Topos for many crags, Helsinki is THE destination for those without a driving licence, as there is plenty to keep you occupied within easy reach of typically excellent Finnish public transport.
North Wales, UK
My own spiritual home that now has a guidebook of over 700 pages and thousands of lines to match the 100+ years of history. Topos of the area are still to come (they’re on their way) but the boulders are certainly there and the variety is astounding. Rock types, angles, style, North Wales covers every style either in the mountains or by the coast, all within an hour’s drive. Renowned (unfairly) for terrible weather, there is always something to go at here, no matter what is falling from the sky, with a burgeoning and bustling climbing scene to boot.
Number of problems: Nearly 4000
Variation: From 5 to 8b+
Other notes: For those also keen on traditional climbing, North Wales has more history than most countries, including being home to the famous Joe Brown. From easy scrambles to E9, there is several lifetimes worth of routes to keep even the very best busy.
If you’re looking for easy ticks in foreign lands, the Western crags of Sweden won’t deliver. What they will offer instead is phenomenal bouldering in a setting unlike any other. Hönö is an island to the west of Göteborg that rises gently from the Baltic with pebbles and crags that make your eyes widen and your jaw drop. Access from the mainland is via a free ferry to more than 450 problems from 3 to 8a.
Number of problems: At least 580
Variation: From 3 to 8a
Other notes: Once you’re done on the island, Göteborg has a host of other nearby crags that are also well worth checking out.
I’ve not been to Alcañiz but from the pictures, I desperately want to! A recent 27 Crags story whet the appetite for a venue that sits above the Spanish plain with spectacular views of a wide range of bouldering and a quick search for #alcañizbouldering shows a venue that looks more Mid-West America than central Spain. With images reminiscent of Font, Rocklands, Albarracin and Hueco Tanks, Alcañiz should be on everyone’s radar.
La Dehesa, Spain
La Dehesa is another addition to the burgeoning Spanish bouldering scene, near to the more established Hoyamoros but with just as much to go at. Located to the West of Madrid on the edge of the Sierra de Gredos, La Dehesa will give any visiting boulderer some quality routes in the shadow of snow-capped mountains that look more at home in the Alps than in central Spain. What’s more: at least 80 boulders have been photographed and documented by local legend Mariano López (who’s also the author behind the 27 Crags topos) giving a phenomenal range to go at.
Number of problems: Nearly 600
Variation: From 3 to 8a+
Other notes: La Dehesa is also a popular destination for golfers, perhaps giving something a little less intensive for rest days.
You’d be hard pressed to make a case for Felsenmeer to be a world-class (or even a best in Germany) venue – a bit like a Smart Car is never going to be a world leading vehicle! What they both have, though, is a niche in the market and Felsenmeer is ideally placed to be the perfect stop-over on your overland travels across the continent. What can be tough is moving on again with plenty to go at that is of excellent quality indeed. Unfortunately there’s no Premium topo currently, but if you know someone who could be the right person regarding the topos don’t hesitate be in touch with 27 Crags!
Number of problems: 200 problems at least
Variation: From 3 to 7c+
Other notes: With a host of walking trails and a café, as well as some local castles and places of historical interest, Felsenmeer is a great family friendly area with plenty to pique your interest for at least a few days at a time.
Val Daone, Italy
You may well have heard of this Italian gem already but have you actually been? If you haven’t, you should. Now. A quiet Alpine valley finds its sides littered with quality granite blocs before the road crests into the most picturesque meadow imaginable with some outstanding bouldering with easy walk of a free campsite.
Number of problems: At least 570, many more not yet documented on 27crags
Variation: From 4 to 8b
Other notes: Daone appears in both its own guidebook – Daone Prog – but has yet to be properly documented on 27 Crags. Hopefully soon it will also be in Premium!
This article is written by Pete Edwards who runs Prowess Climbing Coaching, based in North Wales and can travel for work as much as for pleasure! Get in touch with Pete for more information on courses and availability.