To the untrained participant, rock climbing can be one of the most dangerous activities to engage in. However, once one has been trained and learned the necessary skills, rock climbing can be a safe and enjoyable activity -- though one with an ever present thin margin for error. Despite the danger, climbing is an activity that gives you a chance to get some fresh air and makes for an excellent opportunity to pack your gear bag and head to some of the most beautiful places in the world in search of some fresh rock.
Climber & belayer: the basic climbing team.
To start, there are many different forms of climbing that are segmented mostly by the type of equipment used when climbing. The two main categories are aid climbing and free climbing.
Aid climbing is a style in which equipment, such as pitons, cams, nuts and/or screws, are placed allowing the climber to pull on them and haul himself upward.
Free climbing is a style in which the climber moves forward and upward solely by gripping, squeezing, smearing, pinching -- whatever natural strength he can muster -- the available natural features of the rock. Free climbing is further defined by the type of protection used in the event of a fall.
Traditional climbing involves the placement of temporary protection such as cams, nuts, and hexes, into the rock's natural features while climbing upward.
Sport climbing involves the use of pre-set protection, often metal rings (known as bolts) drilled into the rock, while climbing upward. These fixtures are permanent and used when the climber runs his rope through one end of a quickdraw and attaches the other end to the bolt.
Solo climbing does not use any protection. Without the need for protection during ascent, there is no need for a rope or a partner hence the name.
Bouldering is centered around climbing shorter and more difficult routes, known as problems, that do not require a rope. Bouldering does not use any proection either aside from foam pads occasionally placed at the bottom to protect against rough landings.
Great rock climbing can be found world wide; not suprisingly, you'll often find great places to climb in some of the most beautiful and scenic places on Earth.
The Mountain Club of South Africa, , +27 (0)11 807-1310 between 8AM and 10AM or +27 (0)21 465-3412 10AM to 2PM,  can provide you with guidance and additional information about mountaineering and rock climbing in South Africa. The club consists of 14 sections throughout the country.
Rai Leh and neighbouring Ton Sai - Krabi province, Thailand — the preeminent location for rock climbing in Asia and possibly the world. Easy access to superb limestone climbing, beautiful scenery and ground level activities are good reasons why this area is so popular. Climbing is possible all year but November - April is the driest and least humid.
Batu Cave - 13 km north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Rai Leh's little brother to the south, Batu Cave features over two hundred bolted limestone routes on powerful overhanging rock that features stalactites and caves.
Kalymnos — the scene of frenetic climbing activity over the past five years. Kalymnos is a popular climbing destination not just because of its island location but because of the walls and walls of featured limestone that feature over one thousand bolted routes. Everything from slabby technical routes to overhanging tuffa and stalactite routes can be found within walking distance of your ocean front accommodation. Climbing is possible year round but the best times to visit are spring (March - May) and fall (September - November)
Squamish, BC - Multipitch traditional (gear) climbing on bullet-proof granite cracks, flakes and slab. May through October is a fine time for climbing. July through early October are your best chances for superb dry and warm days.
Whistler, BC - Predominantly single pitch sport routes on solid featured rock that is mostly verticle or slightly overhanging. Late May through early October is your best bet for good weather. Access to the local crags is by car and the approaches are usually short and easy (2 - 20 minutes).
Skaha - Penticton, BC - Primarily single pitch climbing on gneiss stone featuring small edges and crimps. The routes are divided almost evenly between traditional and sport climbing on everything from overhanging jug-fests to verticle cracks to delicate less-than-verticle routes. Climbing is possible during a good portion of the year (April - October) though the summer months (July & August) can become uncomfortably hot requiring you to climb in the available shade.
Kamloops, BC - Kamloops has enough climbing to keep you busy for a weekend. As the area can become extremely hot in the summer, spring and fall are the best times to visit to check out the vertical climbing on solid featured rock.
Canmore, Alberta - Canmore is concidered the best sport climbing area in Canada. Canada's most difficult routes are located here, and most of the climbing is within 10 minutes of downtown. Canmore features lots of single pitch climbing, and a few long multipitch climbs; including Sisyphus Summits on the North face of Ha Ling peak which at 25 pitchs is Canada's longest sport route. Climb between May and September.
Mount Lemmon - Tucson, Arizona — the massive variation in elevation makes this area climbable all year around. Scorching summer temperatures in the city valley can be escaped by moving out of the cactus and into the forest.
Maple Canyon - Central Utah — sport climbing heaven on cobble stone routes. Ideal climbing conditions are late spring through early fall. When the summer heat consumes Utah, the canyon remains cool and the routes steep and pumpy.
City of Rocks National Reserve - Southern Idaho — Gear and sport climbing on massive piles of granite scattered about a scenic valley. Climbing is best in the late spring through early fall.
Smith Rock - Bend, Oregon — the birthplace of American sport climbing. Best climbed in the spring and fall.
Frenchman Coulee - Central Washington — features row after row of 30m basalt columns hosting over 400 sport and gear routes. Ideal climbing conditions are in the spring (March - May) and fall (September - November) as summers tend to be hot and windy.
Seneca Rocks - the best trad climbing in the Northeast US. Routes range from 5.2 to 5.13.
Sinks Canyon- Lander, WY-> hundreds if not thousands of incredible limestone, sandstone, and granite sport climbs for every ability; all within a ~3-5 mile canyon. Incredible boulder band offering easy to the most challenging boulder moves, especially at the sandstone buttress. Great weather pattern makes climbing available throughout most of the year. There can be snow on one side of the half mile wide canyon and be 20 degrees warmer on the other side. A neccessary destination for every climber. Your fellow climber, Colin May -CT