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 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.
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.
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.
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?