Bucket lists, tick lists, plans, holidays, trips, trip of a lifetime, longterm goals, ultimate routes. We've all got them, but do we all climb them? Don't put them off, don't wait, get them ticked and get them ticked this year. And one way of doing that is having climbing aspirations closer to home, as not every trip can be to Australia or South America.
The internet is awash with brightly coloured photos of stunning rock in amazing landscapes, but climbing adventures don't have to be in far flung corners of the globe. We've some amazing climbs right here in the UK or just a short hop away in Europe, and as the year splits nicely in to 12 months, here are 12 suggestions for a brilliant adventure that hopefully won't break the bank.
Don't get hung up on grades or even specific routes, instead try focusing on somewhere you'd like to climb, or some kind of climbing experience you'd like to have. That way not only do you have a goal to look forward to, but you don't have to 'succeed or fail' if conditions, strength or other factors stop you on a specific climb.
Depending on where you are based will of course affect your goals and how much time you need to put into each one, but having a range of ideas from quick fix trips that can be done in a day, through to weekends and even a week or longer, then you've got your year set out ahead of you.
12 Suggestions for a Brilliant climbing Year
1: Tick a Classic Rock / Hard Rock or Extreme Rock route. They're spread out across the country, so it's up to you whether this is a close to home affair or an almighty mission. Either way it doesn't have to cost the earth.
If you've got a mate who is also ticking off their list then you can team up, or even better: go with someone else and get one ahead of them!
I've been steadily ticking my way through these books for years now, and still have heaps left to do. I managed to grab an ascent of the brilliant Welsh limestone Great Wall last year, but alas this year I'll have to head further afield as I am running out of options... I feel a trip to Scotland coming on.
2: Climb a sea stack. There are loads of stacks spread out all around the UK, from the most famous ones like the Old Man of Hoy through to some south coast gems like The Witch's Tit on 'Old Harry', Dorset. Get some ideas from this UKC guide to Sea Stacks. My personal fav is the Old Man of Stoer - perfect rock, not too difficult to approach, and amenable grades - nice.
3: Go subterranean. For the ultimate in dark, greasy fun, why not try a kind of 'caving route' that is climbing, but not as we know it! There are loads to go at throughout the UK, classics such as Preposterous Tales in Pembroke, to lesser known adventures like The Light That Didn't Shine at Gogarth, and there are plenty more out there too.
4: Traverse the Skye (Cullin) Ridge. It has just absolutely got to be done. In summer or winter, in a day or in several, with mates or solo, it's all up to you, but if you haven't managed to get on to this magnificent ridge-line, then make it happen in 2016, winter or summer, the choice is yours. Here's our UKC Hints and Tips Guide.
5: Climb on Lundy (and stay in a Lighthouse!). This granite encrusted island off the coast of Devon is one of the UK's most classic sea cliff climbing destinations. With famous routes such as The Devil's Slide (HS) through to The Flying Dutchman (E7), it has climbs for all abilities.
Furthermore it has not only a pub (essential!) and a campsite (good for those on a budget) but if you want to splash out then you can stay in a Lighthouse too.
From the Landmark Trust Website: "Old Light, completed in 1820, was designed by Daniel Asher Alexander. Built of Cyclopean blocks of granite, it stands on the highest point of the island. The keepers' quarters are still divided into the two original flats, Lower and Upper. Unusually for Lundy, they look out over the northern part of the island."
Money saving tips!
Have you got a tent? The summer months are warm enough to spend a weekend camping with relatively cheap kit and still be warm and dry enough to get out and climb (hopefully!). If you're heading to some of the more wild areas of the UK then a discreetly placed tent can save you some camp fees and if you're climbing till sundown, then you could even choose to bivvy under the stars at your chosen cliff.
Do you know your holiday dates from work already? Booking Easyjet style flights well in advance can save you a packet on flights. We've found that booking approximately 4 months in advance is the cheapest way. Grab a bargain early! If you plump for somewhere in Europe with generally good weather, and with a variety of options for climbing then you've got a good chance of saving some money by booking early, but not ending up in a monsoon! Look at the South of France, Spain, and Northern Italy for cheap to fly to areas, with good weather and a variety of amazing climbing.
Join a climbing club. It might seem a bit old fashioned, but climbing clubs often have fantastic meets planned, allowing you to car share, pool equipment and food costs and stay in amazing huts for very little money.
The brilliant Climbers' Club have a range of huts from Cornwall (pictured below) to Scotland, and also have meets planned. If you're thinking of going to the Alps, the the Alpine Club also have several meets a year and these can be a good way to do a bigger trip on a reasonable budget and you might get cheaper rates in some alpine huts too.
For those averse to joining a club - why not join either the BMC or the MCofS? Why would you bother? Well they have 2 brilliant huts in Scotland - that's why. The well positioned Alex MacIntyre hut is in Ballachulish - giving access to Glen Coe and the Ben easily, and there is also a hut on the Isle of Skye - I think the Skye Ridge has to be on everyone's bucket list!
6: Climb a long mountain link-up (and finish on a mountain summit). There are plenty of options for this in Wales, the Lakes and of course loads of places in Scotland, but one of my favourites is the North Wales classic of starting up the Idwal Slabs and finishing on the top of Glyder Fawr. You can pick your routes to match your grade, and if you want to keep the grade down and the speed up there are plenty of VDiff options on slabby and generally well protected rock. My personal pick would be to finish with the bold HVS of Grey Arête, and although it is sparse on gear, the rock quality and friction are superb, just don't fall off.
7: Sword fight on the Cioch Nose. Have you seen Highlander? The amazing summit of Sron na Ciche stars in the classic film as the unbelievable situation for a sword fight. Well for the last few years there have been a couple of plastic swords left on top, so why not climb one of Skye's best summits, by a route of your choice (they go from Diff to E7) and have a Highlander sword fight of your own!
You can see it at 4:48 in the video below.
8. Go deep water soloing. It's fair to say that Mallorca is DWS heaven, but we do have a lot of sea cliffs in the UK too. If the grades suit and your budget allows I would strongly recommend a trip to the Spanish island (Cala Barques is just designed for DWS!), but for those needing some DWS closer to home Dorset fits the bill.
If you're new to DWS choose short routes that aren't too hard and that you're happy to jump from. Build confidence and soon you'll be like Chris Sharma... maybe. Either way it's a lot of fun.
9: Sunny Ridge Scrambles. If your idea of a winter ridge doesn't involve snow and ice, but does involve sun and beer then think about a flight to Spain. Flights, accommodation and food are all cheap and the climbing, or ridge scrambling, are brilliant. Read this article by Tomo Thompson for more inspiration.
10. Summit an Alpine 4000'er. This could be one of the more expensive trips in this article, but to keep costs down avoid Switzerland, hire kit if you don't have it, and aim for an easy peak with a high chance of success and limited nights in mountain huts - even camping if it is possible.
I'd recommend the Gran Paradiso(4061m) in Italy, as it can be climbed with just one night in a hut, requires no cable car to access, and is a stunning peak at a moderate grade. Plus it is in Italy, so good food and coffee and guaranteed.
11. Camp on a wild beach (and then climb something!). Scotland is the choice for all things wild. If you're looking for remote beaches you have a lot to choose from, but Dan Bailey our UKH Editor (he knows about camping) suggests Sandwood Bay for a perfect camp/climb combo. There's the Sandwood Bay Crags as well as the classic sea stack of Am Buachaille - you can tick two off this list in one go.
12. Bike and Climb. Got a bike? Got some climbing kit? There you go! Depending on where you live this could be a local challenge (I'm going to try and climb at 10 crags in a day travelling by bike, but I've got a lot of rock near me!), or one for a weekend away. Pick a series of crags that you can access either directly by mountain bike, or perhaps you can road bike to the nearest point then walk, and get a good ride in alongside some quality routes. Be warned, a hard slab at the end of a long ride might not be a good idea - and climbing in cycling shoes adds at least 10 grades...
Many of the more remote crags of Scotland are best accessed by bike, knocking literally hours off the approach time, and there's also a long tarmac road on the approach to Craig Yr Ysfa in North Wales that I've always fancied zooming down on two wheels...That's me sorted for this summer I think!
Whatever your adventures are this coming year, whether they are on this list or not, it always does me good to remember that climbing is about having fun, laughing with your mates, and seeing some of the best and wildest corners of our planet, be that 1 mile from home, or miles from anywhere.
I'm going to try and get as many off this list done as I can, plus I almost added a 5 different crags with 5 different pubs challenge too, but that is very irresponsible, so there's no way I'm going to do that... Maybe see you out there - underground or on a bike. :-)
Jack Geldard is the Chief Editor of UKClimbing.com. He holds the Mountain Instructors Award is also currently going through the British Mountain Guide's training scheme.
He has climbed in 5 of the 7 continents, up to a very high level, and enjoys all forms of climbing, from winter alpinism through to summer bouldering. He's still not overly keen on falling off though...
His particular favourite styles of climbing are UK seacliffs, classic Alpinism, and multipitch sport climbs. Or pretty much anywhere sunny.
- You can read a little more about him, his climbing, and his guiding on his own website: Jackgeldard.com