Climbing in winter can be daunting, especially if you’re used to hibernating at an indoor wall from October to March every year. It can be especially hard to get motivated when it’s cold and wet outside, or even to assume that outdoor climbing is over until the spring, but there are lots of trad climbing, sport climbing and bouldering opportunities available within the UK and abroad, as well as winter climbing.
For Winter Climbing
Close to home – Scotland
There’s a huge range of climbs in Scotland to suit beginners to those who are more experienced. Winters vary from year to year which affects conditions, but when conditions are right this is not an area to miss. UKC has compiled comprehensive lists of climbs to do for all abilites and for different styles of winter climbing.
Further away – Chamonix
An outdoors paradise. World class climbing and skiing at your front door, and beautiful weather to accompany. Chamonix is well place in France to allow trips to Switzerland, Italy, or further into France which means you could easily spend weeks, if not months, here.
Close to home – Spain
Not quite as close to home as other destinations but with very cheap and regular flights between the UK and Spain, this one isn’t too big of a hassle to get to. Temperatures are low enough that you’ll stick to the rock (think of Margo Hayes, who climbed La Rambla in Spain in February 2017), but warm enough that it’s actually enjoyable.
Further away – Red Rocks, Nevada, or Wadi Rum, Jordan
Most American summer spots are inaccessible during winter because of the cold and poor weather, but Red Rocks in one of the few areas that enjoys year-round climbing. The climbs vary from single pitch to 11+ pitches and the climbs are true to their grade, which means no climbing a 6a that feels more like a 6c (looking at you, Shawanagunks). It’s also the perfect excuse to spend New Year’s in Las Vegas since Red Rocks is less than thirty minutes away.
Wadi Rum might not be as well-known as Red Rocks, but that’s likely to change given its profile in this year’s Reel Rock tour. The scenery is stunning and the climbs are mostly straightforward. Summer temperatures can surpass 30 degrees which makes winter a much more enjoyable option.
For a day trip
In the Southwest – Brean
One of Brean’s major draws in winter is how sheltered it is. The rock quality is good, but the routes are on the more difficult side.
In the Northeast – If the highlands are too far away for a day trip but you’re still keen to get out winter climbing, give Northumberland National Park a go. Just outside of Newcastle, Northumberland offers a range of climbing including winter climbing and bouldering.
Near London – Stone Farm
Stone Farm is great for beginner climbers or people looking for a relaxed day out because of the easy top roping and bouldering available. The rock is soft so there are rules in place about minimalising the risk of erosion which can be found on the BMC’s website.
By Tess Skelly