Wow! So this is probably the hardest article I’ve had to write to date. It originally started as the top three best bouldering locations but I quickly decided to scrap that when I found it impossible to narrow it down that much. Even top five was difficult for me, but it had to be done. I fell in love with bouldering a little bit more while I created this list. Bouldering really does take us to some of the most majestic places on earth. Take a look and see for yourself.
Location: Fontainebleau, France
Type of Rock: Sandstone
Difficulty: There are thousands of problems in Font at every grade level. I’m sure you’ll be able to find some stuff to keep you busy.
When to Go: Conditions are best from late fall to early spring (late October to mid March). Cooler temperatures in the winter result in better friction, which is key on sandstone. Just watch out for rain which can be common during the winter season.
Font is located an easy forty-five minutes south of Paris, which you can get to via the train. It is claimed by many to have the best bouldering on the planet. Any climber can find what they’re looking for here. From super easy to ridiculously hard, you have thousands of problems that you can choose from. While climbing in Font you’ll find yourself completely surrounded by nature and wildlife, so make sure to take a moment to take it all in. The boulders can be found scattered within the breathtaking Fontainebleau forest. The boulders are labeled with color-coded circuits that will guide you through a series of top notch problems. Plus, the sandstone makes for soft sandy landings. One of the most popular areas is known as the Trios Pignons.
Location: Ticino, Switzerland
Type of Rock: Gneiss and Granite
Difficulty: You’ll find a lot of stellar moderate climbing, but this place is known for amping up the difficulty. Be prepared for some awesome projecting!
When to Go: The best time to climb is from late fall to early spring (October to March). Fall is the most beautiful since you are in the middle of a forest amidst the leaves changing color. The winter can get cold, but the friction is amazing as long is there is not too much snow.
Ticino is a region in southern Switzerland, just about an hour and a half north of Milan, Italy, and is the home to some of the best bouldering in the world! There are so many bouldering areas you can visit that a trip there will never feel long enough. You’ll be planning your next visit before you even leave. You’ll be inspired by the simplicity of life and the beauty of nature. Forests, old towns, rivers, and breathtaking landscapes is what you’ll be surrounded with. The most popular areas include Magic Wood, Brione, Cresciano and Chironico. Each area can vary in elevation significantly, which means so does the weather. On hotter days you can always venture higher up for better conditions, or vise versa. It is a place that must be experienced.
Location: Bishop, California, USA
Type of Rock: Granite and Volcanic Tuff
Difficulty: All types of grades, styles and holds. Bishop has you covered.
When to Go: The best time to go is from October to April. The temperatures get too high in the summer for climbing to be any fun.
Bishop offers a high concentration of bouldering that is not only world-class but located close to great amenities. Bonus! Not only do you have these massive boulders in front of you, but you also have a stunning view of the Sierras’ 14,000 foot peaks in the distance. The main bouldering areas are Buttermilk Country, Happy Boulders and Sad Boulders, and each have something different to offer. The Buttermilk boulders are magnificent granite eggs, whereas the Happy and Sad boulders are less intimidating but just as intriguing with their winding walls. There are over 2000 problems and counting. Feel free to explore as there are many great lines waiting to be discovered. Bishop is definitely a place for a climber to feel spoiled.
Location: Western Cape, South Africa (near Clanwiliiam, but essentially in the middle of nowhere)
Type of Rock: Sandstone
Difficulty: You can find all grades here with a good percentage being easy and moderate climbs.
When to Go: The best conditions occur during their winter, which ranges from May to early September. During these winter months the temperature usually ranges from around 10 to 20 degrees Celsius (45 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit)
One of the first things you’ll notice with a trip to Rocklands is the beautiful orange and grey striped sandstone. But that’s just the beginning. Your jaw is sure to drop once you experience the panoramic view of boulders completely surrounding you, the beautiful beaches, sunny days, and star filled nights. It’s the perfect climbing vacation. It is about 2 hours north of Cape Town and 30 minutes away from the nearest town, so get ready for some real isolation. Just you and those beautifully painted rocks. Also, the jugs littered at the top of many boulders are great for climbers looking to try some incredible highballs.
Location: Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
Type of Rock: Granite
Difficulty: It caters to all, from V0 to V14.
When to Go: Bouldering is possible all year round but the best conditions are experienced from July to September. Mid-summer can see temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) but the shade from the forest makes it more tolerable. The possibility of rain increases during the fall, but the dropping temperatures are great for friction. The best friction is experienced during the winter and although nearby areas can be covered in snow, the boulders rarely have any.
Of course I had to list a place that was relatively close to home. Well it’s on the other side of the country, but it’s still home. However, don’t let that fact lead you to believe that this area doesn’t deserve to be on this list. It absolutely does! Squamish has arguably the best bouldering in Canada. It is located about an hour’s drive north of Vancouver and is popular destination for southern climbers that are itching to climb when the temperatures down south get too hot. The boulders are found in a beautiful forest and shaded by the canopy of the trees and the shadow of The Chief (claimed to be the second largest monolith in the world). With over 2,500 boulder problems, there is sure to be variety. From slopers to interesting features to cool angles; I’m sure you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for.
What’s on your list? Leave a comment below!