Welcome to our annual Adventure Travel Issue.
“TRAVEL IS FATAL to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” Mark Twain once wrote. In our current era of political divison, turmoil, and strife, Twain’s words ring truer—and are more needed—than ever. As climbers, we already know this deep down. Our sport is steeped in a rich history of travel, a lore that lives on in the #vanlife and #endlessroadtrip hashtags that dominate our social-media feeds.
Climbing is best practiced with a heavy dose of travel. We train at the gym and our home crags to take our skills and passion on the road, to visit new crags and icefalls and mountains, to realize dream goals in the wildest reaches. We experience the earth at its rawest and most vital through our fingertips and toes, and come to intimately know the locals—climbers and otherwise—because of our immersion in the landscape. I contrast this with the stereotypical tourist on a Caribbean cruise, running into port to buy a sombrero before charging back onto the boat to savage the buffet. We climbers are the lucky ones, to not be traveling thusly—to be experiencing the world firsthand and meeting people from other cultures.
Seeing the world has shown me how lucky I am to be alive, well-fed, and safe, and have the resources and time to pursue an activity as unrelated to my survival as climbing. To inspire you in your own travels and, I hope, in cultivating open-mindedness of your own, we present a host of amazing adventure-travel destinations, both domestic and overseas. They range from the quartzite highlands of North Carolina ( p.28) and the granite hinterlands of the Adirondacks ( p.18), to the often-overlooked boulders of Yosemite ( p.60), to the Martian big-wall landscape of Wadi Rum, Jordan ( p.48), to the heretofore word-of-mouth bouldering of Roy, New Mexico ( p.36). Each area is intertwined with its own human story, both on the rocks and off.
Some of my fondest memories from my life as a climber are of the kind people I’ve met on my journeys, from the Greek family at a Kalymnos hotel who made my girlfriend and I stuffed peppers because we “looked too skinny,” to the Sierra donkey packers who gave me a ride to a phone after I lost my keys in the hills, to my climbing partners in Turin, Italy, who’d always insist on buying the post-cragging pizza for the “strong American boy.” These are the memories that remain, long after the glow of ascent has faded. May you find and make such memories of your own, and may they help you in making the world a more welcoming place.
A VIEW FROM THE DARKNESS OF AL-DEIR, PETRA, JORDAN.