How to Prepare For a Rock Climbing Trip Overseas

Rock climbing is exhilarating on its own, but traveling overseas to experience some of the world’s most amazing sites can double the excitement of a climb. Rock climbing has become recognized as an adventure sport all over the world; guides and friendly accommodations for climbers are available in some of the most unlikely places, making it easier than ever to enjoy this extreme sport in exotic locations.

Safety is always the first priority of a climber; when planning a climb overseas consider the following tips for the most positive experience possible.

Personal protection

Personal protection is a must when preparing for a rock climbing trip overseas. Make sure someone who’s not going on the trip with you knows how to reach you, should any emergencies arise at home that you need to know about. Also, in the event something were to happen to you on your trip, your friend back home would be able to retrace your steps and find you. Leave copies of your itinerary, passport, contact phone numbers for climbing guides and accommodations with someone you know.

Your personal medical insurance may not apply overseas, so get a travel insurance policy before you go. Seasoned climbers know how to minimize the inherent risks of their sport, and securing adequate health insurance is part of being a responsible adventurer.

Decide how much, if any, of your personal gear you want to take with you. Guide companies may or may not provide equipment either as part of the travel package or at an extra expense. Knowing how much of your own equipment you must bring might influence your travel plans. Checking baggage can be expensive, especially on international flights and if, heaven forbid, your suitcase full of gear gets lost, your trip might be ruined.

Resources abroad

Aside from prepping your gear, when preparing for a rock climbing trip overseas it's a good idea to learn about the place you're traveling to. Before going overseas, check the U.S. State Department website for a list of toll-free emergency numbers available 24 hours a day. Write down any numbers you might need, and consider getting a pre-paid calling card; you can’t count on having cellphone service when traveling abroad.

Familiarize yourself with the culture, conditions and laws of the region where you’ll be traveling. Just because your ultimate destination is a rock in a remote setting doesn't mean you won’t have to engage with the culture to get there. Just as you wouldn’t rely on someone else’s instincts while climbing, don’t rely on word of mouth when it comes to staying out of trouble in a foreign country.

Research guided tour operators before booking your trip. Find out how long they've been in business, speak with references, ask about the guides’ training and language abilities, how big the groups are and how many guides are available, and what the protocol is for medical emergencies.

Get ready to climb

Now that you know how to prepare, it’s time to decide where to go – and there’s no shortage of exciting destinations around the world.  In Yangshuo, China, the karst towers have been attracting climbers since 1990 when the first route was established over Moon Hill.

In New Zealand, rock-climbing mecca Wharepapa has more than 2,500 routes with grades for every level of experience, and accommodations and a gear shop are nearby. Whether you’re headed for Skaha Rock in British Columbia or a pristine slab of granite yet to be conquered, preparing for your overseas climbing trip will help ensure that it's truly the adventure of a lifetime.

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