In 2019, French free climber Alain Robert was arrested by police for scaling the153-meter Skyper building in Frankfurt, Germany. Dubbed the “French Spiderman,” Robert only needed 20 minutes to reach the top. He has been jailed before for doing similar stunts that make astounded crowds below shocked in surprise and fear. A Guinness Book of World Records holder himself, the daring climber has summited such landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Taipei 101 in Taiwan, and the Empire State Building in New York.
When preparing, Robert and his team would have likely consulted with a window contractor to determine the glass’ and frames’ stability. Often, he relies on the chassis, rails, and sills windows as well as concrete slab gaps and corners to climb up a building. Without permission from authorities and building owners, he ascends these high structures without safety ropes and other gadgets, which is a violation of public safety laws in most countries.
There are other kinds of climbers who love the outdoors and do not look at climbing as a stunt. To them, it’s a sport and even a form of meditation. Unlike Robert, outdoor climbers usually use safety equipment in going up mountain or cliff walls. Some still do what they call “free soloing” or climbing without safety equipment, but they are among the elite of the elite in the sport. Most want to do the daring rise to the top of the hill without taking unnecessary risks.
Must-Try Outdoor Climbing Destinations in Europe
Free climbers and those looking to try out this extreme sport need not do the French Spiderman’s stunts. Traveling to beautiful climbing spots is better than spending a night or two in jail for climbing skyscrapers.
Here are a few excellent climbing destinations for those who love to travel to conquer menacing rock faces and jaw-dropping cliffs:
One of Italy’s most popular spots for outdoor climbing aficionados is Finale Ligure near the outskirts of Genova. The natural wonder is composed of 10,000 square kilometers of white limestone, all waiting to be explored by adventurous climbers. According to experts, this spot has more than 3,000 climbing routes dotted with overhangs and slab walls. Upon reaching the summit, one can enjoy a view of the green valley below.
Sicily is perhaps known for its dry, orange landscape best immortalized in The Godfather movie series. In the movie, Sicily was portrayed as the birthplace of Don Vito Corleone, the mafia boss who immigrated to the US and later became an organized crime kingpin.
But a beach town in Sicily called San Vito Lo Capo offers one of the most visually stunning coastal cliffs for outdoor climbers.
A climbers’ favorite, specifically those with more technical skills and experience, Siurana continues to challenge outdoor athletes rugged wall faces and sharp-angled overhangs. It is located outside Barcelona in the Sierra de Prades, with 1,750 routes ready to be conquered.
The orange and yellow limestone of Kalymnos in Greece is bringing climbers from the world over to this dreamy, flowery landscape that spans the base of the hills. Located in Masouri town, it is an accessible climb spot that has more than 34,000 routes and at least 80 crags to challenge all those who dare to reach the summit.
Can Newbies Visit These Spots?
How about those who are new to the sport of rock climbing? Should they visit these spots?
There are indeed some routes that should be for highly experienced technical climbers. While these top European climb destinations have something to offer for everyone, it is essential to make some advance research on local laws, safety regulations, and other climb-related information for each site.
The good news is, some of the most technical climb spots have routes that have been well bolted. That means other experienced climbers have already attached secure bolts where other climbers can attach their carabiners and webbing.
One should only climb with experienced outdoor athletes or with a qualified guide. An absolute beginner with no previous training nor experience must not attempt to ascend alone.
Using quality equipment like kernmantle ropes with high tensile strength, webbing or anchor, harnesses, belay and ascenders, helmets, and climbing chalk.
Most, if not all these sites will be near to one or two climbers’ shops in town where one can get new supplies and equipment, and even some technical advice if a resident expert is available.
Proper physical preparation is also a must for both newbie and experienced athletes. The most common strength and conditioning routines include push-ups, pull-ups, and dead hangs under a high bar. Leg raises and squats are also needed. Core strength is also essential for climbers, so all types of sit-ups should be done. Yoga is also a recommended exercise to be included in the climber’s preparation because it helps develop flexibility and dexterity, attributes needed for tough overhangs and crags. Of course, various hand, wrist, and arm strengthening exercises must be part of the training plan.
Not only does being in tip-top shape help the climb itself, but it is also beneficial to be fit given the long hours of air and land, and sometimes sea travel involved to reach climb destinations. The feeling, however, of reaching the top of the cliff after traversing a tricky, tough ascent is worth all the training, sweat, and strain of this sport for wanna-be Spidermen and Spiderwomen.