The Hottest Rock Climbing Destination? Palestine’s West Bank.
Locals and tourists are seeking out the world-class limestone cliffs
It’s no secret that interest in rock climbing is booming in the U.S., both the sanitized bouldering gyms that offer a novel version of functional training and the real-dea cliff scaling popularized by the sport’s celebrities like Alex Honnold (who continues to impress). But if you’re looking for the hottest new climbing destination, you’d do well to check out Palestine.
Yes, that Palestine. As Outside details, despite the continuing political conflict, the West Bank “is home to an up-and-coming climbing scene centered around top-notch — and untouched — limestone.” That scene is cataloged in the new guidebook Climbing Palestine, released this month and co-authored by Tim Bruns, who along with fellow American Will Harris helped kickstart the sport in the area among locals and tourists alike.
Bruns and Harris, both graduates of Colorado College, started Palestine’s first indoor rock climbing gym Wadi Climbing a few years ago. The facility itself is found in Ramallah, but Wadi Climbing also offers climbing trips throughout Palestine — the region now boasts about 200 routes.
“It’s really some of the best limestone I’ve ever climbed on,” Bruns told Outside. But access to those enviable crags is as contentious as you’d expect, and the experience means different things to different people.
“In order to locate cliffs in Palestinian areas of the West Bank, Bruns and Harris teamed up with a local hydrologist to overlay topographical maps with a political one,” writes Outside. Still, because of the divide between Palestinian-controlled and Israeli-controlled land, Israelis can’t access every cliff in Climbing Palestine, and Palestinians may have to take roundabout ways to get there, while foreigners are generally free to travel between both.
For those who have never been to Palestine before, your big question probably isn’t whether the cliffs are as good as they say, it’s whether or not it’s safe to travel.
As Bruns told Outside, “In my opinion, the West Bank is safer to travel to than certain parts of South America or even the U.S.”
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