Rock climbing often attracts daredevils, but it’s not just the risk factor that’s appealing. Many avid rock climbers enjoy the challenge of conquering these natural formations, and while they maintain excellent physical fitness they also get to enjoy the natural beauty of the wilderness—and the solitude and peace of venturing to remote parts of the world.
Many college students discover a love of rock climbing while venturing out of their comfort zone. The one downside to rock climbing is that it can cost a pretty penny to come face-to-face with the most impressive—and imposing—rock formations in the world. One reason rock climbing students may be interested in joining a study abroad program is the opportunity to spend a semester or longer in close proximity to world-class climbing venues. If such circumstances suit your interests, here are the top 10 destinations where rock climbers should consider taking a study abroad trip.
1. Spain (Montserrat)
Options for study abroad students in Spain are abundant, offering studies in large cities like Madrid and Barcelona as well as less common locations throughout the country. For rock climbers, Barcelona is ideal because of its close proximity to Montserrat, one of the most famous mountains in Spain and all of Europe and known for its many jagged peaks and challenging climbing terrain.
2. France (Fontainebleau)
Fontainebleau is a suburb of Paris and is close to a series of rocky, forested mountain formations that make for excellent climbing. This destination lets you enjoy rock climbing while indulging in the accommodations and offerings of one of the most famous cities in the world.
3. Chile (Cochamo Valley)
If you decide to study in the Los Lagos Valley region of Chile, you’ll be right in the neighborhood of the Cochamo Valley. This area bears a strong resemblance to California’s Yosemite National Park, offering steep rock walls, granite domes and a variety of bouldering and trad climbing options.
4. England (The Peak District)
Study programs in London are a dime a dozen, but if you’re interested in the rock climbing England has to offer, consider the Peak District. Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester and other parts of north-central England are home to great climbing peaks.
5. Thailand (Rai Leh)
6. Greece (Kalymnos)
Giant rock towers rise up out of lush green forests. These smooth rocks aren’t for beginning rock climbers, but they’re a delightful challenge for experienced enthusiasts—and are well within reach of urban centers and local universities.
7. New Zealand (Various)
New Zealand is a steep country in itself, rising sharply out of the ocean. Whether you go to school in Christchurch, Auckland or another town in New Zealand, excellent climbing won’t be far away.
8. Australia (Mt. Arapiles, Victoria)
If you take your studies abroad to Victoria, Australia, you’ll be within striking distance of Mt. Arapiles and the picturesque Grampians National Park—a land with varying landscapes and imposing vertical challenges.
9. Italy (Arco)
The town of Arco, Italy, is surrounded by sheer limestone walls ideal for climbing. Even if you aren’t studying in this immediate area, it’s easily accessible from Florence and Venice.
10. Switzerland (Matterhorn)
The Matterhorn is one of the most famous mountains in the world, as far as rock climbing goes. However, it’s one of the most dangerous ones as well and should be reserved as one of the crowning achievements of any rock climber’s career. It’s a great challenge if you’re going to school in Switzerland, although this isn’t the type of climb you’d pursue multiple times. More likely, you’ll spend months preparing for a single, daring summit.
Depending on the type of rock climbing you enjoy, your skill level and your interest in other countries, your preferred study destination may be different from someone else’s. Consider all the aspects of day-to-day life when you decide among these rock climbing hot-spots. And make sure that wherever you go, you’ll have quick access to climbing venues that match up perfectly with your interests.