Climbs that You Wish You Could Try (But Can’t)

There are many places across the world for climbers to test their skills, and then there are those places where you only wish you could try. For one rea­son or anoth­er, these climbs were nev­er opened or shut down, and might nev­er see anoth­er bolt again. 

Hang­ing Rock
Hang­ing Rock in Aus­tralia has been closed down for decades due to acci­dents and what some believe are insur­ance issues. It’s the set­ting for the film, “Pic­nic at Hang­ing Rock” that detailed the strange dis­ap­pear­ance of four school­girls who were nev­er found. Many of the best climbs in the area are locat­ed direct­ly over heav­i­ly traf­ficked walk­ing paths mak­ing it dan­ger­ous to open the area to rock climbers, at least accord­ing to the man­age­ment com­mit­tee that han­dles the insur­ance for the area. We’re told that you can do a lit­tle bit of boul­der­ing if you walk to the sum­mit, but don’t expect any real routes to be avail­able to the pub­lic in the near future.

Spi­der Rock
The area around Spi­der Rock, known as Canyon De Chelly, is actu­al­ly owned by the Nava­jo Nation and is under pro­tec­tion of the Nava­jo Trib­al Trust Land. Basi­cal­ly, there’s no get­ting on this rock any­time soon. The Nava­jo peo­ple con­sid­er Canyon De Chelly a sacred place and even ascend­ing the canyon walls by lad­der is pro­hib­it­ed. To even get into the canyon area you’re required to have a native guide escort you on foot or by horseback.

Why exact­ly is Valle De Viñales in Cuba off-lim­its to climbers? Three words: Unesco World Her­itage. The moun­tains here are unique­ly formed in that they weren’t pushed up from the ground as most moun­tain ranges are but rather they were formed when every­thing else around them fell down. This unique­ness helps to qual­i­fy the area as a Unesco World Her­itage site. For rock climbers that means there is no legal access to the 500 foot over­hangs lit­tered with sta­lac­tites and chan­de­liers that make per­fect holds. What once was a top des­ti­na­tion in the world for climb­ing won’t be see­ing any ropes any­time soon, if ever.

Three Sis­ters
The Three Sis­ters was once a pop­u­lar climb­ing spot around Katoom­ba, Aus­tralia, but climb­ing has been banned there since 2000. One of the largest rea­sons for this is due to objec­tions by Abo­rig­ines like the Gun­dun­gur­ra and Darug tribes who claim that the The Three Sis­ters is sacred and should not be touched. Con­sid­er­ing that the area used to con­tain sev­en sis­ters, rather than just three, it doesn’t look good for prospec­tive climbers. Local autho­rizes, along with the tribesman, are ded­i­cat­ed to pre­serv­ing what is left of the stone spires.

North Shore of O’ahu
We couldn’t put togeth­er this list with­out giv­ing a lit­tle hope to our climb­ing friends. O’ahu’s most pop­u­lar climb­ing spot, the wall at Mokuleia, was shut down in 2012 along with about half of the climbs on the island alto­geth­er. The climbs were shut down after a young girl suf­fered injuries from a fall and the leg­is­la­ture feared that law­suits could come due to climb­ing acci­dents. It’s still closed as of the writ­ing of this arti­cle, but it looks like it could be back open soon. Thanks to ded­i­cat­ed mem­bers of Hawaii’s climb­ing com­mu­ni­ty and local busi­ness own­ers there is a bill on the table that will may reopen the area.

Helder­berg Escarp­ment
John Boyd Thacher State Park, New York
The Helder­berg Escarp­ment has been on the dream list of many New Eng­land climbers since the ear­ly 1900s, but has always been banned. The cliffs pro­vide great views of the Hud­son Riv­er and the sur­round­ing fall foliage that blan­kets Albany in vibrant col­ors. It would also pro­vide some pret­ty gnarly climbs if we could touch it. That may change soon as cer­tain orga­ni­za­tions like Access Fund, the same group work­ing to restore climb­ing to Mokuleia, are work­ing with the local gov­ern­ment to pro­vide access to climbers. Run­ners, hik­ers and moun­tain bik­ers are all allowed, so why not rock climbers?