Nepal is famous for Mt. Everest, and every year there’s plenty of news about climbers who have scaled the world’s tallest mountain. However, there are also some great climbing opportunities for visitors and locals who are looking to spend a day, or even a week, on some rocks.
Remember, for outdoors climbing, you must bring or rent all of your equipment, including a good climbing rope, harness, belay device, climbing shoes, helmet, chalk, extra carabiners, slings, and quick-draws. Don’t forget to bring a first-aid kit, food, and plenty of water for the day. Make sure that you and your climbing partners know how to belay each other properly and clean a route.
Here are the recommended places to go rock climbing around Kathmandu.
Astrek Climbing Wall
Located in Thamel, Astrek Climbing Wall is the heart of Nepal’s climbing community. If you aren’t ready to test your skills on the natural cliffs or if you just have limited time, stop by Astrek for a few hours and check out the multiple bouldering walls and taller walls. A full day pass to use the climbing gym costs Rs 400. You can also rent shoes and a harness for about Rs 100 each. If you want to do some natural rock climbing but don’t have the proper gear or skills to go outdoors climbing on your own, then the great staff at Astrek can help set you up with gear and an experienced guide.
Pharping (also called Hattiban)
Located in the hills to the southwest of the valley, Pharping is famous for its monasteries, but it also has a great natural climbing cliff.
To get there, take a bus from Balku to the Dollu bus stop (about 45 minutes to 1 hour). From here, ask the local people to direct you to Samye Monastery or Rigon Tashi Choeling Monastery. Continue past Samye Monastery, from where you should be able to see a steep trail leading up towards the forest. Ask locals to direct you to the trail and then follow this trail all the way up to the cliffs. It takes about 20 minutes of walking to reach the cliffs from the bus stop.
The cliff here has about 10 intermediate to advanced single-pitch climbing routes, all bolted for sport climbing with bolted anchors at the top of each route. The limestone cliff is mostly vertical, with a couple of slight overhangs.
When climbing here for the first time, it is better to come with a local climber who knows the cliff well and can provide good beta on how to do these climbs safely.
Located on the western side of the valley, Nagarjun Forest is a great area for both hiking and climbing.
To get to the climbing site, take a taxi or bus to Phulbari gate, just a short ways beyond Balaju Bypass. There is an army checkpoint at the gate, where you will need to pay an entry fee (Rs 250 for foreigners, Rs 10 for Nepalis). After entering the gate, the cliffs are about two kilometres’ walk along a jeep track.
The cliffs here range from about 15m to 25m tall, and have about 20 routes of varying difficulty. Most of these routes are bolted for sport climbing, and it is possible to set up top-ropes.
As with Pharping, it is best to go here for the first time with an experienced local climber who can show you the cliffs and make sure that you are climbing safely.
Top image: United Nations Development Programme/Flickr