5 Epic Winter Vacation Spots for Climbers

Guest post by Rachel O’Conner

I feel like I blinked and this year was over. Did we really get 365 days? I demand a recount.

But as I convince myself to come to grips with the fact that this year is ending, it’s also time for me to make my annual bucket list. It’s not your typical bucket list, as you might have guessed, but it’s one that I check off before the year ends. Hey, who knows how long we have, anyway?

But the problem is that I’ve realized that I still have five vacation spots left on my 2016 list. Nothing like the last minute, eh?

The spots on my list were either recommended to me by friends or places I’ve heard about online – but they do seem quite epic and I’m excited to start checking them off my list. And, yeah, some will spill over into 2017… but let’s keep that between us.

Moonlight on El Cap. Can you spot the headlamps of the climbers? (3/3)

A post shared by Julian Rohn (@julianrohn) on

1. Yosemite 

This is where I’m starting, so let’s get this out of the way first. You’ve probably done this trip. Most climbers with any sort of ambition will scale El Cap. Well, I haven’t. Not yet. I’ve put this one off for many reasons, but if I’m being honest, the biggest reason is confidence. This is a major climb, and I’ve been worried about being able to handle the difficulty level. I’ll just need to give myself a little pep talk beforehand. And maybe during.

Things to keep in mind: Yosemite climbing takes a great deal of strength, but you’ll also need balance and agility. Although any 5.7 and easier climbs will likely be crowded, they are a good way to acclimate yourself to Yosemite before taking on bigger challenges.

2. Hueco Tanks, Texas 

I’m kicking myself because I was in the El Paso area earlier this year, but I wasn’t even thinking about bouldering. From what I understand, it’s one of the best spots in the country to work on your bouldering skills. And I can most definitely handle winter temps in the 50s. I may need to plan a camping trip here for mid-December.

Things to keep in mind: You’ll mostly encounter boulder problems on the developed routes, but you can also find some sport and trad climbing. This is the birthplace of the V scale with boulder problems ranging from V0 to V12+.

3. Red Rocks, Nevada 

Can you believe I’ve never been to Vegas? But if I had, you can bet I would have made a pit stop at Red Rock Canyon. Seriously, it’s only about 20 minutes from the Las Vegas airport. I love the idea of bouldering on the red sandstone, but I’m kind of excited about the crack climbs and short routes too.

Things to keep in mind: Sandstone is more fragile than other types of rock, so take some time to get used to it on easier climbs first and avoid climbing after a rain storm.

4. St. George, Utah 

This little town made it on the list because of its vicinity to Red Rocks, and because I’ve heard it’s a bit of a hidden gem. It’s great for sport climbing and diversity, with several crags in one area.

Things to keep in mind: Black Rocks, Chuckawalla Wall, and Prophesy Wall offer climbs from 5.7 to 5.12. This is one of the few places where camping is allowed on site, so it’s a good opportunity to bond with other climbers.

5. Mallorca, Spain 

Clearly, this one will have to wait until 2017, but it’s definitely staying on the list. I heard about the Mallorca climbs from my friend Nathan who had recently spent some time there. This would be my first climb out of the country, and it sounds like it’ll be one I’ll never forget.  

Things to keep in mind: It’s not as easy to access crags here because they are often located on private land. Land owners may restrict or charge a fee for access, and you’ll encounter a lot of rusty bolts. Oh, and the mountains are so beautiful that they’ve been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Have you climbed in any of these spots? If so, what did you think? What are the best climbs, and are there any I can shave off the list before I make the trip? It would also make the whole getting-it-done-in-2016 thing a lot easier.



Rachel is a freelance content writer. She has written for a variety of different industries including business, healthcare, technology, travel, education, fashion and lifestyle. In her free time, Rachel enjoys camping, hiking, practicing yoga, and running along the beach in San Diego, California. 





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