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This Climbing Travel Guide is a Worthy Resource for Itinerant Climbers

The 200-page compendium highlights lesser-known crags in 50 countries around the world.

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If you’re itching to plan your next trip abroad after months of staying homebound during the pandemic, you’re not alone.

Mapo Tapo’s Climbing Travel Guide ($52) is a worthy tool to help you scratch your itch. 

The startup, which organizes climbing group trips in far-flung destinations to support sustainable economic development in the local communities, crafted its new 200-page book as a compendium of advice on lesser-known climbing spots in 50 countries around the world, from Albania to Senegal to Brazil to North Macedonia. 

Don’t get the wrong idea, though. The Climbing Travel Guide isn’t a climbing guidebook, and as such, you won’t find any route topos or move-by-move beta here.

“The idea behind the Climbing Travel Guide,” said Mapo Tapo’s Faustine Wheeler, “is not to provide a comprehensive list of all the crags in an area or extensive logistical information. You can buy the local guidebook for this.

“Instead, we aim to give visibility to lesser-known climbing areas and inspire readers to travel there, connect with the local climbing community, and leave a positive impact.”

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Woman goes rock climbing in Sicily.
The scenic climbing at Sicily’s Stockholm crag. (Photo: Courtesy of Mapo Tapo / Massimo Cappuccio)

For example, if you want to climb in Myanmar, the book will point you in the right direction, highlighting crags like Waterfall Hill (Yaedagon Taung), the country’s first established climbing destination, which houses two dozen sport routes up to 5.12d. Among other obscure spots, it recommends the secluded white limestone walls of The Alamo, deep in the jungle outside the town of Hpa-An, where you can send up to 5.13d. It also advises on which local guide to check out, Nyi Nyi Aung, and mentions an excellent rock gym (Climb O’Clock) in Yangon, the country’s capital.

The Climbing Travel Guide goes beyond which crags to visit and each area lists the important climber-centric local resources, such as tourist outfitters, rock gyms, route developers, hostels, and guides. 

If you’re visiting the rugged desert canyons of Oman, you can talk to Larry Michienzi, a Canadian climber who has lived in the country for over 20 years, developed countless routes, and crafted a series of e-guides on climbing in Oman. If you want to clip bolts on the near-virgin limestone of Montenegro, you can look up veteran local Ilija Gračanin. If you want to climb in Palestine, visit Wadi Climbing, the country’s first climbing gym, in Ramallah. Here, you can pick up a copy of the local guidebook “Climbing Palestine” and join scheduled outdoor trips with other climbers.

But the book isn’t just a useful resource for traveling climbers, it aims to be a responsible one, too.

Peppered in alongside crag recommendations are local tips on respectfully climbing (and traveling) in each country or region. In Myanmar, for example, The Climbing Travel Guide impresses the importance of respecting the local monks, dressing modestly, removing shoes before approaching pagodas or monasteries, and avoiding the consumption of alcohol in public. In Egypt, if you have any extra gear you don’t need, the book mentions that the local climbing community will likely “appreciate buying it off you,” as there are few imports.

In addition to the various country-specific sections, The Climbing Travel Guide contains broader information as well, in the form of a series of articles peppered throughout the country-specific sections. It opens with an overview of grade translations for climbing and bouldering around the world, and features articles on respectful climbing tourism, the impact and importance of responsible bolting, and injury prevention while climbing abroad, among other topics. 

Woman boulders in arid, desert climate.
Natalija Ristevska boulders in northern Macedonia. (Photo: Courtesy of Mapo Tapo / Goran Kuzmanovski)

You’ll also find an interview with famed French climber and developer Arnaud Petit, who speaks on ways to reduce your carbon footprint while traveling in the modern era.

You won’t need to take The Climbing Travel Guide with you on your next adventure (and I don’t recommend doing so), because it’s not specific enough to provide much use once you’re in-country. Each country is only covered for a couple of pages, at most. Instead, it presents an excellent resource for those looking for a launchpad to climb in a remote or developing country where Mountain Project and other typical climbing resources may not be updated or available. Simply take a few photos of the pages covering your destination, grab your draws, shoes, rope, and helmet, and hop on your flight. 

In that sense, it’s as much a coffee-table book as a resource. The photos are spectacular, and I’ve found myself just flipping through the book for a few minutes each night, even though I have no trip planned (yet). I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen an advertisement, as well, which is always a nice surprise in this day and age.

Photo of climbing guidebook.
Large format, glossy photos are always a pleasure to see, regardless of your immediate travel plans. (Photo: Courtesy of Mapo Tapo)

Perhaps the most important thing to mention, however, is that this isn’t just some book hashed together by a few cocky globetrotters hailing from a couple of countries. You aren’t just getting recommendations from some nob who fancies themself well-traveled. You’re getting info from the local climbers themselves. 

The Climbing Travel Guide features input from over 80 climbers, guides, and developers based around the world, including crag photos from 60 photographers, most of them locally-based, too. Folks hailing from Turkey to Jamaica to Malawi all threw in advice to help build The Climbing Travel Guide, and it shows.

If you want to sample the best rock in far-flung destinations outside your home turf (or you just want to look at rad photos of climbers around the world), and you want to do so respectfully and responsibly, The Climbing Travel Guide is an excellent way to get started.

Owen Clarke is a freelance writer living on the road. In addition to spending time in the mountains, he enjoys motorcycles, heavy metal, video games, and key lime pie.