Climbing doesn’t have a reputation as a family-friendly sport. Often it’s perceived as the preserve of wiry, 9-stone, twenty-something mountaineers who have a penchant for early death.
But, as it turns out, like most extreme sports, there are friendly, entry-level destinations to explore with none of the terror of The Edge.
Fontainebleau in France
Fontainebleau is supposed to be a bouldering resort–a place where insane people go to scramble over rocks without a harness. However, the venue has become increasingly mellow over the last few years, offering an excellent place for outgoing families to embrace adventure.
Fontainebleau is less than 100 km south of Paris. It’s incredibly well-connected and attracts climbers from all over Europe. There are plenty of instructors on hand to guide you and ensure that you have proper technique, as well as (quite incredibly) on-site daycare.
Even though Kalymnos is adrift in the Mediterranean, it’s surprisingly well connected, thanks to its proximity to Kos. You can get direct flights from most European cities, including Athens.
Kalymnos became a world-renowned site for climbing because of the annual climbing festival held on the island, and the fact that once you’re done with climbing, there are stunning beaches to enjoy with your family.
Kalymnos offers practically all of the benefits of a beach holiday but with a fun activity to do in the cool of the morning or the dying evening light. Expect stunning views over beautiful Greek islands scattered as far as the eye can see.
If there’s one place where you’ll need specialist climbing shoes from a shop like Smart Sports, it’s Catalunya in Spain.
The region is perhaps the most extreme on this list, but most of the rock faces that you’re expected to climb are less than 150 feet in height. Plus, you and your family have to wear harnesses the entire time.
The site has a zero-tolerance policy on so-called “free climbing.” Safety is very much a priority here, partly because of the culture and partly due to bitter experience.
Most people who go to the climbing walls stay in the nearby town of Cornudella de Montsant. It’s a kind of hub–a bit like a ski resort–with good connections to the surrounding mountaineering attractions.
There are perhaps fifty climbing destinations within an hour’s drive, so unless you’re here for six months; you won’t be able to climb them all.
Patagonia In Argentina
If you’re planning a trip to Argentina and want to indulge in a spot of climbing, then Patagonia is an ideal destination. Home to some of the most famous climbing mountains in the world, like the Fitz Roy, the area attracts keen climbers from all over South America.
Patagonia is mainly for serious climbers, but there are less challenging places where families can go climbing. Summiting one of the many local peaks often requires specialist training.
The weather isn’t always great, so you’ll have to be careful. If you’re traveling with kids, then try to stay below 2,000 feet.