The winter season is upon us! For us climbers, that means it’s time to head indoors to pull on some plastic, hang on those hangboards, and rip up the Moonboard. But let’s be honest. It’s only a matter of time before cabin fever starts to set in and you start questioning your life’s existence. “Why am I here? Why are gym memberships so expensive? Why is it so busy tonight? Do they EVER change the routes? What the heck is the beta for this? Will I ever send and find happiness?”
While we don’t have the answers to help you through your existential crises, we know how you can shake off those winter-blues - take an epic winter climbing trip!
So grab your best climbin’ buds, pick one of these rad destinations, and go do it! Just remember to buy everyone some sweet Bomber rock climbing balm stocking stuffers first. It’ll keep your skin moisturized during these cold and dry months. Your digits will also recover faster after rad training sessions, and it’ll let you keep crushing day after day, wherever you choose to send this winter!.
Pull on Pockets and Tear up Tufas in Thailand
Thailand is a world-class rock climbing destination. While the vibe has changed over the last couple of decades, the climbing still stands among the best in the world. Where else can you wake up, walk for 5 minutes to the beach, which is also the crag, which is also beside a bar? The climbing areas attract people from all over the world too, so you’re bound to meet some characters.
The two hot-spots for rock climbing in Thailand are Tonsai and Chiang Mai.
360° Rock Climbing at Tonsai Beach
Tonsai is located on Krabi’s Phra Nang Peninsula and is only accessible by boat. There are a bunch of huts on the island where the climbers can stay for cheap, along with tiny, yet tasty little restaurants.
Tonsai is home to some incredible sport climbs.
With over 1000 sport routes, you’ll be sure to find something special whether it’s a hardcore multipitch or mellow single pitch. The limestone here is full of pockets, tufas, stalactites, and everything in between. Sometimes you’ll be halfway up a route and not know where to go. Then, you’ll swivel your head 180° and see a stalactite behind you requiring some sweet stemming between the rock face and the dripping feature. Just amazing!
For City Folks, Head to Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is another incredible place to climb in Thailand. It has the added bonus of being near a small city full of markets, hostels, nightlife, and all sorts of fun stuff. The crag, accurately named Crazy Horse, is about a 40-minute ride outside of the city. You can catch a daily ride from the climbing shop in town or rent a scooter and drive yourself.
The climbing at Crazy Horse is a little more vertical than Tonsai, but it’s still high-quality limestone sport climbing. It also has a gigantic cave with multi-pitch climbs that start inside, travel up the walls and across the ceiling. The routes end when you finally reach freedom outside! A must-do for any multi-pitch enthusiast.
Anxiety State Crises Cave - Incredible multipitch climbs are inside requiring you to climb out of the few openings on the roof.
It should be noted that climbing in Crazy Horse is currently banned. Local climbing groups are working hard to get access restored as soon as possible. You can check for more updates about climbing in Chiang Mai here.
Go Big in Mexico
Not looking to travel overseas? Mexico is the perfect spot for sampling world-class limestone without the jet lag. Two popular areas during the months of December through February are El Salto and El Potrero Chico. Both provide incredible limestone climbing, but that is where the similarities between the two locations end.
Love Hard Sport Climbing? El Salto is the Place To Be!
If you’re comfortable climbing 5.12s and above, consider El Salto your playground. Massive and steep limestone walls extend for hundreds of feet, providing everything from techy face climbing to overhung tufa pump-fests. Most of the routes are long single pitches over 50 metres tall. Don’t have a 100-metre rope? That’s ok, there are anchors installed at halfway points to help you get back to the ground after some sick sendage.
Hungry for Multi-pitch? It’s Hard to Beat El Potrero Chico.
A sport multi-pitch dreamland. If you love to get high, El Potrero Chico has what you need!
With routes over 20 pitches long at moderate grades, you’ll enjoy cruisy climbing all-day, every-day during the dry winter months. Time Wave Zero is a must-do at 5.12a. If you’re worried about the grade, don’t be. The 12a section has bolts close enough together that you can aid your way through, making this route an accessible 5.11a A0 route. Most of the pitches are in the 5.8-10a range making it a fun, full day out on the rocks.
Potrero Chico - El Sendero Luminoso follows an incredibly vertical route up to the highest peak (left side on the photo above).
For those looking for more of a challenge, there’s El Sendero Luminoso, which was famously free soloed by Alex Honnold. With pitch after pitch of hard 12 sport, we don’t recommend doing this one without a rope, but it sure is good fun!
Campsites are within walking distance of the crag making approaches nice and short. There’s also an incredible margarita trailer serving up delicious post-climb refreshments. The vibes are definitely on-point at this Mexican climbing wonderland!
Stay Closer To Home - It’s a Party in the U.S.A.
Would you rather pack a car full of crash pads, ropes, and your best buddies for a road trip than buy a plane ticket? Create an awesome playlist and get on the road to California, Nevada, or Texas. These states have wonderful climbing all through the chilly winter months! If you’re camping, just be sure to bring some warm gear, the temps may drop at night.
Trad and Boulder in Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park, or as the cool kids would say “J-Tree,” has always been a popular winter getaway for boulderers and trad climbers. Crisp sending temps, 8000+ trad routes, and more problems than a university algebra book have made J-Tree world-famous.
The desert landscape is also out of this world so make sure to pack a camera!
Attend Hueco Rock Rodeo in Texas
The Hueco Rock Rodeo comes to Texas every February, bringing along beginner, amateur, and professional boulderers for an incredible weekend event! The 3-day competition is jam-packed with clinics, music, gear demos, film premieres, bonfires, raffles, and much much more. Attending the comp is also a great way to give your winter training some focus in December and January.
Want to boulder but don’t like the comp scene? Don’t worry, just call Texas State Parks at (512)389-8911 to make reservations. Then you can boulder to your heart’s delight at this incredible winter rock climbing destination.
Rock Out at Red Rocks
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, except rad climbing stories! Head to the strip between November and April, and you’ll be rewarded with a chance to lose all your money. Then you can live the dirtbag life you always dreamed about at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
The desert outside of Vegas is world-class. Why else would Alex Honnold and Jonathan Siegrist move there? Alex Honnold didn’t buy a house close to Yosemite, he bought one near Red Rocks! Let that sink in for a second. Sidenote, J-Star and Alex are neighbours and best friends. Now doesn’t that just warm your heart?
Red Rocks has everything you need for an incredible winter climbing trip: trad, sport, multipitch, and bouldering. It’s all there! Plus, if you need to fly, tickets are super cheap because Vegas is always offering deals to get people down there. Highly recommend!
What’s Your Favourite Winter Climbing Destination?
Did we miss your favourite winter spot? Do you climb year ‘round at your local crag? Let us know your favourite climbing winter destination on the Bomber Climbing Facebook Page or in the comments below!
Take Less Rest Days and Heal Flappers With Climbing Hand Cream
Wherever you decide to head to this winter, make sure to pack some climbing hand cream, like Bomber. It will nourish your calluses, clean any cuts and abrasions, and help your skin heal fast. We’re all limited by time when we take climbing trips, and it really sucks when your skin forces you to take rest days. So pack some Bomber, apply it after your climbing session, and before you head to sleep and you’ll be golden. It also makes a great stocking stuffer or New Year’s gift for your favourite climber. So pick up some climbing hand cream today.