July 27, 2021
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is known for its year-round sun, over 400km of coastline, quaint historic port towns, resorts, and excellent food. Despite the island becoming a popular holiday destination in recent years, those with a more adventurous spirit can still venture off the beaten track, discovering beautiful nature reserves and truly unique rock-climbing spots. We chatted with Elena and Erik from Tenerife Climbing House to learn a little more about what this island has to offer climbers and bring you a brief guide to Tenerife’s best rock climbing spots.
Why go rock climbing in Tenerife?
Tenerife is the ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. The island boasts incredible spots for diving, windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing, and even paragliding, as well as beautiful hiking and mountain biking trails. It’s possible to start your day hiking in the forest before heading for a refreshing dip in the ocean, then finish it off with a fresh seafood meal overlooking the snowy slopes of Mount Teide. The year-round sun makes Tenerife the perfect place to escape the cold winters of continental Europe, while in summer, a sea breeze keeps temperatures from reaching sweltering. Furthermore, the island’s small size means that most attractions are just a 45-minute drive away.
Unknown climber on La cartuchos (6c+) climbing in La Galeria sector © Mikko Vänskä
In terms of rock-climbing potential, nature has been very erratic in Tenerife. The island’s unique volcanic basalt has been molded into incredible shapes, meaning that every climbing area boasts something magical. There are routes for all tastes and abilities, from technical slabs to overhangs, crack climbing to slopers, and long sustained routes to bouldery sport climbing. While you’ll mostly find bouldering and single-pitch sport climbing in Tenerife, there are also some excellent trad routes, deep water solo spots, and trad and mixed multi-pitches (mainly in the National Park and Anga areas). It’s always possible to find places in the sun—or shade—and most crags come in and out of the sun throughout the day.
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How to plan a climbing trip to Tenerife, Canary Islands
Nowadays, Tenerife is far from being a remote climbing destination. You'll find plenty of information online. However, collecting tips and tricks from Local climbers is always the safest solution. That's why our climbing trips are designed in partnership with passionate local climbers worldwide who can offer guiding services and gear rental. "Tenerife Climb & Chill" has been designed for beginner to intermediate climbers who are thrilled to discover some of Tenerife's sweetest seaside spots and climbing areas. The best part of group trips? You don't need to bring friends - just come along and meet people and passionate climbers from all over the world right in Tenerife!
Most rock climbing is within a 20-minute drive from Arico, so staying in this area and making day trips is the best option. You’ll also find some incredible beaches and deep water solo spots nearby.
Tenerife Climbing House is a great accommodation option, boasting a pleasant terrace for warmer days, a laid-back vibe, a slack line, and even its own bouldering wall! If you’re new to outdoor climbing or looking to brush up on some skills, Elena and Erik also run a local climbing school, so be sure to get in contact.
The best rock climbing areas in Tenerife
Tamadaya is one of the most famous rock climbing spots in Tenerife and the place to head if you’re new to climbing or looking for an easy day out. The crag was developed explicitly with beginner climbers in mind, and as a result, boasts a good number (over 50) of well-bolted routes up to 6b+ and a straightforward approach. The climbing is pretty technical, with lots of friction and crack climbing and routes between 12 and 30m high. Be aware that Tamadaya tends to attract a lot of families and can get quite crowded on the weekends or during the holidays.
Alex enjoying one of the 50+ lines bolted in Tamadaya, Paquita style (6a) © Mikko Vänskä
Arico was one of the first rock climbing areas in Southern Tenerife to be bolted and currently holds the most significant number of routes of any of the climbing areas on the island—over 250! Over time, most routes have been re-bolted, so you shouldn’t have to worry about rusted bolts or huge runouts. You’ll find ways between IV+ and 8c+ located at various sectors in a North-South running slot canyon. Be prepared to chase the sun (or shade) throughout the day! Expect short bouldery lines, which will challenge your power and technique.
Elena Martínez Purriños on La vagoneta (7a), one of the best lines in Arico © Mikko Vänskä
Arico is split into two sectors: Arico Arriba (Upper) and Arico Abajo (Lower). Arico Arriba is home to the area’s shorter and easier routes, so head to the Abajo sector if you’ve come here in search of a challenging project. For those of you keen to do some bouldering, Arico offers over 100 basalt problems suitable for all levels.
3. El Río
As the name suggests, el Río is a rock climbing crag located in a dried-up riverbed, offering 113 single-pitch sport routes from V to 8b+ spread over different sectors. The landscape here is quite peculiar: on the one hand, you have stunning expansive views; on the other, climbers are greeted by an abandoned dump which makes for an odd protrusion into the natural environment. You'll find powerful overhangs in the Gallery where the most challenging routes are concentrated. At the same time, the other sectors offer vertical to slightly overhanging routes characterized by sustained technical climbing with the occasional bouldery move. Remember that the best routes tend to be in the shade in the morning, so plan accordingly! If you’re not too tired after climbing, hike up to a waterfall nearby for a refreshing dip.
Elena Martínez Purriños on Imagina (6c+) in the Guasiegre middle sector © Erik Baquero
4. Planeta Zarza
One of Tenerife’s more recently developed climbing areas, Planeta Zarza, is a small crag located in the same canyon as Arico Abajo, about 1km away. This is an excellent place for those climbing in the 6th and 7th grades, with 40 single-pitch sport and trad routes between V and 7c+ covering a variety of styles—from cracks to chimneys and face climbing. The routes are typically slightly overhanging, up to 25m long, and characterized by sustained, technical climbing. As with the crags at Arico, you’ll be able to chase the sun or shade all day long.
Guaria is the prime spot for longer single-pitch routes and multi-pitch climbing in Tenerife. The climbing is located on a South-facing wall in the Protected Natural Area of “La Montaña de Tejina,” offering beautiful views over the sea and La Goma. The area is home to several endangered bird species, so make sure to minimize your impact and respect access restrictions during nesting season. You’ll need to obtain permission in advance to climb, which can be done over the internet.
Erik Baquero climbing in Guaria © Mikko Vänskä
The routes at Guaria are typically long (up to 40m), sustained single-pitch sport, and trad or trad multi-pitches. While you’ll find 129 routes graded between V and 8c, this is not a beginner spot! However, if you can warm up on 6b, many excellent routes will be at your disposal. If visiting in summer, we recommend you wait for a cloudy day, or until 4-5 pm on a sunny day, before heading out to avoid roasting on the wall. Make sure you watch the sunset, though, as they are spectacular!
Our extra tip: Deep Water Solo
Rafa Gómez Lorente deep water soloing in one of the sweetest spots Tenerife has to offer, Montaña Amarilla © Erik Baquero
A volcanic island, Tenerife is the ideal place for some deep water solo. A good number of spots are concentrated mainly in the South and South-West of the island, with grades predominantly suitable for beginners or intermediate climbers. Deep water soloing in Tenerife is the ideal time to combine rock climbing and chilling—if not climbing, you can still enjoy lounging in the sun, snorkeling, cliff jumping, and swimming in the sea. Remember that it’s the Atlantic ocean, so check the sea conditions before heading out!
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If you fancy discovering some of these excellent rock climbing areas and many more, why not book one of our Mapo Tapo ' Tenerife Climb & Chill ' trips run by Tenerife Climbing House? You’ll enjoy three days of climbing (led by a certified guide) and an action-packed active rest day in Tenerife.
Words by Faustine Wheeler
Cover photo: Erik Baquero climbing Como marca la ley (6c+) in Arico lower sector © Mikko Vänskä