Climbing in Freyr: Belgium’s Premier Forge of Fingers

Most climbers won’t have considered Belgium as a destination for climbing, and many of those who have a vague idea of Belgian climbing won’t appreciate how good it actually is. There are many crags in southern Belgium and Freyr is the crown jewel, with several impressive walls close to the river and overlooking a chateau. Those who do know of Freyr will also know of the crags fierce reputation, nothing here comes easy. If you can climb a certain grade in Freyr, then you can climb it anywhere and although the routes are hard the rock is superb. Belgium is also famous for good beer, chocolate, waffles and fries, which is really a winning combination for us!

Limestone fins protruding out form the slow moving river. On the other side following the river is a road with green fields and forest.
The beautiful Freyr, seen from the top of ‘La Jeunesse’ sector
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Climbing in Berdorf: Luxembourg’s Sandstone Paradise

Luxembourg is an interesting small country that sits landlocked between France, Germany and Belgium. In the east of the country is a village called Berdorf, which is home to some superb sandstone sport climbing. Berdorf could reasonably claim to be one of the best known crags of its type, owing its reputation to its quality. The crag is set in a beautiful forest, which is itself in the European National Protection Zone, due to the quality and abundance of rare plants in the area. The environment at Berdorf is very special and it should go without saying that climbers must treat it with the utmost respect.

Climber on steep overhanging red sandstone arête within a forest.
The steep and juggy Berdorf classic ‘Voleur De Spits’ 7a+
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Climbing in Sweden: A Scandinavian Road Trip

Sweden is a great country for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting over 97,500 lakes and a whopping 27.9 million hectares of natural forest. For climbers, Sweden is often overshadowed by its more mountainous neighbour, Norway. However, Sweden has many superb crags of its own, as well as having the benefit of being much less touristy than Norway. As part of our road trip in Scandinavia, we spent 3 weeks in Sweden and thoroughly enjoyed it. Sweden and Norway have many similarities and differences, they are both wonderful countries that complement each other well.

Climber jamming their hands up a crack in the granite rock
Enjoying the classic ‘Tuborg’ at Utby
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Climbing in Norway: A Scandinavian Road Trip

We were fortunate enough to spend 7 weeks in Norway, enjoying a stunning road trip and sampling many of Norways best climbing areas. We drove up Sweden to arrive in Northern Norway in peak climbing season, starting with Lofoten. After visiting more crags further north, we made the long and beautiful journey down the west coast of the country. The crags will be described in the order we visited them, so depending on where you plan to climb in Norway it might be worth starting from the bottom of the article. The country is full of mountains, fjords, rivers and crags – we only visited a small selection of what’s on offer, even on our relatively long trip.

Climber using small crimpy holes and a high foot to climb the face of the route at Kvitnes, Kristiansund. On their left side is a sharp arête of the rock and in the background is some rocky outcrops and the sea.
Beautiful rock and location on ‘Til Min Venn Thomas’
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Our trip to Uzbekistan: A Cultural Success and a Climbing Failure

We had long wanted to visit Uzbekistan, a country with a fascinating history and beautiful cities. We also really wanted to do some climbing in Uzbekistan, but for a number of reasons it never happened. The two main factors were the very hot weather (over 35°C) and the fact we got severe food poisoning only a few days into the trip. We felt totally wiped out and couldn’t really face the effort of trying to find any crags, let alone climb on them! At the moment there isn’t really any developed climbing in Uzbekistan at all. However, there are definitely plenty of mountains and canyons in certain parts of the country and it is surely possible for climbing to be developed.

Large tiled and detailed decoration on the front of a madrasa, a grand  arced entrance with two minarets either side. The tiles, which are different blues and creams created different floral and decorative designs on every part of the front.
The Ulugh Beg Madrasa, dating back to 1420
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Rock Climbing and Hiking in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a vast country with an equally vast amount of things to see and do. Kazakhstan is actually the world’s largest landlocked country and the ninth largest overall. Despite all of this, Kazakhstan doesn’t receive many visitors, particularly from western tourists. We spent just under 3 weeks in Kazakhstan and had a great time. Of course, it would have been impossible to see much of the country in that time, so our recommendations in this article will be focused around the Almaty region. Kazakhstan’s other regions have a lot to offer as well, but a combination of the landscape and transport links make Almaty the obvious place to start.

Limestone lie cliff of Tamgaly-Tas it is sat upon a grassy bank
A panorama of Tamgaly-Tas
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Climbing in Armenia: A Journey to the Caucasus

Armenia is a real gem of a country, with a landscape that took us completely by surprise. Amazingly, the average elevation of Armenia is 1,792 meters above sea level, making it the 11th highest average elevation in the world. The country’s highest point is 4,090 meters and no point is below 390 meters. Anyone who loves mountains and being in nature is in for an absolute treat, Armenia is covered in stunning scenery and impressive geographical features.

Steep and narrow limestone valley with one side of the valley casting a shower on the other. There is blue sky with clouds.
Noravank in the spring sunshine
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Climbing in Azerbaijan: A Journey to the Caucasus

Azerbaijan is an incredibly diverse country, often touted as having 9 out of 11 different climatic zones. When travelling through the country the variety is remarkable. In Lankaran, tea and citrus fruits are grown in the lush green landscape. By comparison the Abşeron Peninsular is a semi-arid climate with dry sandy soil and very little rainfall. For climbers Azerbaijan is still quite unknown and we found very little information about the climbing here before our visit. Climbing aside we wanted to visit as the country looked both beautiful and interesting. We made contact with some local climbers before we arrived and we were very lucky to meet some others on our first day in Azerbaijan. Their help and information made this article possible. Climbing in Azerbaijan is still developing as a sport, but we were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of some of the routes here.

Large limestone pillars with lush green grass at the bottom and bright blue skies
A beautiful spring day at Beşbarmaq
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Climbing in Georgia: A Journey to the Caucasus

Before planning our trip to Georgia, we would often be asked ‘Is there climbing there?’ or ‘Why are you going there for climbing?’. The answer is yes, there is climbing here and that Georgia is worth visiting because it is a beautiful and interesting country. One thing you will hear about before you visit are the friendly Georgian people and you will certainly receive a warm welcome throughout your time in the country. The climbing here is fierce and is a test of your mettle, you will almost certainly leave stronger than you arrived.

Narrow limestone canyon of Katskhi climbing area. At the bottom there is a wooden tiled hut. On the right hand wall there is a climber on a vertical grey limestone climbing a route.
Butterfly 6c+, Canyon
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Climbing in Datça: A Turkish Delight

Datça is a beautiful seaside town in the South-West of Turkey, on a large peninsular of the same name. Situated in the Aegean Sea, Datça is only a stones throw away from the Greek island Kalymnos, which is famous worldwide for its climbing. We spent three months of 2021 climbing in Geyikbayiri, Turkey’s most famous climbing area. We regretted not visiting Datça, but we are fortunate enough to make the return to Turkey and spend some time in this wonderful place.

The crown jewel of Datça

The location of Datça is perfect, the area is quiet with lots of untouched, pristine coastline and beautiful forests. The area is renowned for pine honey, which is delicious and testament to the quality of the forests in the area. You are never far from the sea and there’s always a quiet, secluded spot to swim and enjoy the clear water. The supply of rock is seemingly endless and hints at how big the area will be in the future.

The official guidebook has been made free to download as PDF, which you can find on ‘theCrag’ here.

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