Going on a climbing trip for the first time can be scary. I remember the first trips I did, I mostly tagged along with others who had more guts than me or had more experience. Over time I’ve developed a way of going about preparing when I decide that I do want to make a trip. I’ll share my process, the steps I go through, before I actually am hanging on some amazing rock in some great location. I hope it might help you find your way of preparing and find the guts that I didn’t have as a newby.
There are probably a ton of different ways to go about it. I’m not pretending that my way is the best, but it works for me.
As soon as I decide that I want to go on a trip I first have to decide who I want to go with. Going alone and finding partners there (see going on a solo climbing trip) will for sure send me to a different place than when I have a partner to go with.
Once I know who will be on the trip and how much time there is to spend, I think about a general destination. Things that I keep in mind are the temperature and weather stability in that time of the year. I often have a few regions in mind when I start to look at the internet and magazines. There are a few websites I often use to help me decide, I’ll list them below.
There are a few things that are important for me to know about a destination. I want to know if there are enough routes that are up to my climbing max and below. Another important factor is the total amount of routes that are in that area. Let me give you an example. When I was looking at going to Annecy this summer, I noticed on the website of The Crag that a high percentage of the routes were 5c and higher. However, the website also shows that this region offers around 1700 routes. So when I put these two factors together I’d know that there would be more than enough easy climbing to choose from.
Reaching the crags
Another thing that I do look into is how the crags can be reached. When flying, can the crag be reached by foot from the accommodation. If not, what kind of transportation can be used to reach the crags. Personally, when I drive to a crag I want to know how long the hike will be before I can actually start climbing. In some places all crags need at least an hour of hiking. If I can avoid being in such a situation, I will. Since I think it’s a waste of energy to hike with all the gear to the crag. But that is of course my personal preference.
Get a topo guide
Because the climbing community is often a place of charity and voluntariness I try to give back to the local community when I’m out there enjoying “their” rock. So if possible I’ll buy my guides straight from a local shop. The little money that is made on it might be used to place new bolts, maintain trails and probably much more. However, if I don’t have much time, I usually look up where I’ll be able to buy a guide so I don’t waste my time there looking all over the place for a guide.
What to bring
Since I don’t have too much gear to choose from I usually take my full gear set. I often go by car, so I’m free to take everything I need and more with me. On occasion I’ve also flown to a climbing destination. In case of going with multiple people it can be wise to talk through who’s bringing what. It can be quite expensive to bring heavy luggage.
The last thing I also prepare before going on the trip, is what else I can do there. As an example; it would be such a waste to not have a via ferrata set with me when there are amazing via ferrata to be climbed. So basically I try to find out as much there is to know about the destination so I can enjoy my trip doing the things I love and not having to run all over the place to get stuff organized there. Again, that’s my personal preference. I know some people really enjoy the discovery part when they go on a trip, but that just doesn’t work for me.
I hope this has been helpful. Have a safe trip!