Rock climbing has its perils but it can be endlessly thrilling at the same time as it takes you to the most awesome natural spots of the world. However, you normally do not undertake this adventure activity without taking some self-protective measures. One such extraordinary person to brave the towering elevations world over without taking any safety measures was the legendary sports practitioner Dan Osman. Known for his spine chilling “free-soloing” and “rope jumping” ventures, this Asian American daredevil set a record for a 1000 feet freefall. If you aspire to test your fortitude and reach somewhere near that mark, you must start by knowing the most desirable rock climbing sites of the world more closely.
15. Meteora, Greece
The name of this elevated region sums up to “suspended rock” and it holds only the second place of importance to the Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Kalambaka, Greece after Mount Athos. Located between the Peneios River and Pindus Mountains, these monasteries have a spectacular series of natural sandstone rock pillars in their background. This UNESCO World Heritage Site happens to be the shelter of about six monasteries and one of the spots for potential rock climbing importance.
14. Horse Point
You must have seen this magnificent rocky peak in the opening scene of the movie Mission Impossible where Tom Cruise is shown climbing it. It also features in the Grand Canyon scenes of the film Thelma and & Louise. Situated next to the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park, this mountain has some of the most interesting topographical features. The sudden descent of the plateau at the three sides giving rise to the narrow strip of land is truly eye catching. However, the excessive aridity of this place is a deterrent to the greater inflow of tourists who dread the hardship of food and water deficiency.
13. Spider Rock
This is an amazing 244 m / ( 800 ft ) tall red sandstone monolith found in the Canyon de Chelly National Park of Arizona. It was formed over 230 million years ago through the concretization of sand layers deposited by wind. It derives its name from the Navajo legend of the Spider Woman who supposedly made it her home. She is given the position of a savior and revered by the Dine as a deity.
12. Shiprock, New Mexico
Shiprock was formed by a volcanic eruption that dates back to 30 million years and now remains as a matchless basalt exhibit of the central feeder pipe of a volcano. Rock climbers making it to the top can see a series of volcanic vents and small pinnacles specking the main peak. Some of these contain wonderful example of magma solidified in mid-air that the locals refer as the sacred Tse Bitai meaning ‘the winged rock’. Even if you do not want to climb it, you can see the central part of Shiprock from several kilometers away because of its diameter of 500 meters and altitude of 600 meters. This area of extinct volcano spans almost 20,000 square km into the surrounding Arizona, Utah and Colorado regions.
11. Agulha do Diabo
The name of this 2050 m high spire located in Serra dos Órgãos National Park translates to ‘Devil’s Needle’. It is not easy even for professional mountaineers to scale its height because of the many natural impediments it poses in terms of the trail to the base, the summit, the distance and the weather. However, it makes for a very lovely view once you make it to the peak. The specialty of this mountain is that it is partly concealed among rock blocks and towers extending for over two thousand meters. The first successful attempt to climb it was made in 1940.
10. Las Torres de Vajolet, Italian Alps
It is best not to judge this peak by its gross photographs but to see it yourself to dispel all doubts about its beauty. The Delago arête route remains the most convenient climbing route to score this mountain. Notwithstanding the protective measures you take, this tentative nature of the Delagokante slope is sure to snatch away the breaths of the best of rock climbers.
9. Prekestolen, Kjerag plateau, Forsand, Norway
The name of this 604 m / ( 1980 ft ) tall mountain that varies between Prekestolen and Preikestolen roughly translates into Preacher’s Pulpit or Pulpit Rock. It has a rare squarely top, that measures roughly 25 by 25 meters and that explains the secret behind its name. It was one of the favorite natural haunts of Norway and attracted 95,000 people in 2006 in a 3.8 km hike. The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association offers guided tours around the Prekestolen covering Prekestolhytta. It may take you anything between one to three hours to complete the hike though professionals used to sudden elevations might make it in a much lesser time.
Situated in the northern side of Yosemite National Park, this 900 m / ( 3,000 ft ) granite monolith has baffled cliff climbers of the world. Its altitude is not as challenging as is its vertical ascent. It was named so by the Mariposa Battalion during their 1851 exploration and it means ‘the captain’ or ‘the chief’ in Spanish. There is a trail alongside the Yosemite Falls leading to the summit of this cliff but the real difficulty lies in crossing the solid granite face. It is said that the constituting granite of this cliff is over 100 million years old and has almost no joints. The quality of the granite changes into Taft Granite towards the top and some parts of it are deemed to have formed by ages of glacial action.
7. Mount Thor, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada
Situated in the Auyuittuq National Park of Canada, the west face of Mt. Thor or Thor Peak rising up to 1,675 m (5,495 ft) enjoys the rapport for being the tallest vertical cliff of the world. Its remoteness and vertical angle of 105 degrees makes it one of the favorite haunts for rock climbers and campers alike. The granite spire that forms a part of the Baffin Mountains was first ascended by an Arctic Institute of North America team in 1953. The longest rappel to date was arranged on this mountain in July 23, 2006 by a group of young American people. Even non-climbers can see and admire the beauty of Mount Thor in the famous “No Quarter” sequence of the concert film ‘The Song Remains the Same’.
6. Mount Roraima
Forming the border between Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana, this mountain measuring 2,810 m (9,219 ft) remains the tallest of Guyana. It is situated in the Canaima National Park of Venezuela and is one of the most ancient geological formations you will find. Sir Everard im Thurn was the first to climb this steep plateau in 1884. It is supposed to be inspiration behind the famous novel of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – ‘The Lost World’ and remains special even for the Pemon Indians.
5. Bugaboo Spire, Columbia-Kootenay, Canada
Placed between the Vowell Glacier in the west and the Crescent Glacier in the east, this is one of the famous Alpine rock climbing spots of Canada. Its name evolved as a reference point used by miners to signify the Bugaboo Creek and Bugaboo Pass. The word Bugaboo means ‘an object of obsessive, usually exaggerated fear or anxiety’ as it was truly found by the team of Conrad Kain who climbed it for the first time in 1916 when Canada was in the throes of World War I. This venture is still remembered as one of the toughest technical climbs ever attempted.
You will find the Torres del Paine National Park of Chile full of the natural wonders like mountains, glaciers, rivers and lakes that makes it a spot of tourist interest. Lying 112 km to the north of Puerto Natales and 312 km to the north of Punta Arenas, this park is also the home to the Paine massif that has a commanding elevation contrasting to the plains to the Patagonian steppe. While sightseers would prefer exploring the neighboring Los Glaciares National Park and Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, a rock climber can scarcely ignore the call of this eastern spur of the Andes. The climbers certainly enjoy the sight of the myriad interlacing valleys that separate the various granite spires and mountains of the massif.
3. Saint Matterhorn, Zermatt, Switzerland
This is one of the highest peaks of the Swiss Alps and it stands tall at an awesome 4,478 m / (14,692 ft) altitude. The British alpinist Edward Whymper and his team were the first to climb it in July 1865. However, the route was so hazardous that the team lost three of its members in its way down the descent.
2. Cerro Torre, Patagonia, Argentina
This upright granite mountain standing tall at 3,128 m / ( 10,280 ft ) may appear insurmountable in the very first glance. Being exposed to rough weather conditions, this remarkably steep- walled mountain posed a challenge to even the best of climbers. However, the iconic Italian alpinist Cesare Maestri and his companion the Austrian ice climber Toni Egger remained undaunted by the sight of the snowy cape surrounding the spire and finally conquered it on January 31, 1959. It took the duo four days to make it to the top and their achievement has left behind an undying inspiration for aspiring climbers. It was subsequently approached through other climb routes by mountaineers Garibotti, Salvaterra, and Beltrami.
1. Nameless Tower
This is the other name of the majestic Trango Towers located on the Baltoro Glacier in Baltistan, Northern Pakistan. This ambiguity about its name further mystifies this 6,239 m / ( 20,470 ft ) high pointed granite spire found on the Karakoram offshoot, Baltoro Muztagh. Its large size and vast ridgeline expanding up to 1000 m has fascinated rock climbers over years. The first mountaineer to leave his footmark upon its summit was the British climber Joe Brown, accompanied by Martin Boysen, Mo Anthoine and Malcolm Howells. Today you will find 8 separate climb routes to its peak, among which the Eternal Flame remains a favorite for those daring to go the Dan Osman way.