Climbing and mountaineering present a stimulating and exciting challenge for adventurous types, a full-on encounter with the elements and nature in the raw. Ice climbing provides a slippery alternative, while an indoor climbing course is where it all begins. timeoutdoors’ Travel Editor Tom Le Bas outlines what's available to those with a head for heights.
Rock climbers and mountaineers are not like other people: for whatever reason, they lack (to varying degrees) the self-preservation instinct that makes the idea of clambering along precipitous ledges or dangling from clifftops on ropes so terrifying to most of us. But what an amazing thrill, if you can handle it! To climb up a sheer vertical 200-metre cliff, or scale a jagged snow-capped Himalayan peak, is like nothing else on Earth: for the converted, no other experience comes anywhere close.
Perhaps the ultimate adventure sport, a technical and physically demanding challenge in extreme environments. We use the term mountaineering to define those ascents which require a degree of technical expertise using crampons and ice axes: some companies group their mountaineering trips with high-altitude trekking: this is described under trekking in the Walking section.
In this very technical sport, ice climbers scale ice-covered rocks, cliffs or frozen waterfalls using ice axes and crampons. Mixed climbing refers to a combination of ice and rock climbing. Specialised ice screws are sometimes used to create protected climbs.
Perenially popular and easily accessible, rock climbing is a challenging and exciting sport that can test your strength and skill to the limit. In terms of activity breaks and holidays, there's a fantastic range to choose from - whether your after a day trip to the Peak District or a week or more in the Swiss Alps, or further afield in Thailand or Turkey.
Indoor climbing centres exist in most large cities these days, and it's easy to sign up for a course - whether you're a complete beginner, or someone with previous experience who wants to improve their technique. Many people quickly find themselves addicted once they've got the hang of it - top roping, bouldering or traversing.
There's a great selection of trips to choose from - to find the perfect one for you, have a look through our listings.
If you can't find the right trip, we're here to help. Use the live chat below or click 'Help me' and tell us about your perfect trip.
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One of the most unspoilt regions in France, the Ariège offers a plethora of crags from single and multi-pitch limestone and granite rocks to granite bouldering in a compact area.
From the gritstone of Lower Wharfedale to the limestone of Malham and beyond, Yorkshire offers a hugely varied range of climbing challenges.
Some of the best rock climbing anywhere on Earth can be found in the dramatic mountains of central Switzerland.
The Peak District is without doubt one of top rock climbing destinations in Europe.
If you'd like help finding a trip, just let us know what you're looking for and we'll be in touch with some ideas.
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