July 27, 2021
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is known for it’s year-round sun, over 400km of coastline, quaint historic port towns, resorts and—of course—excellent food. Despite the island in recent years becoming a popular holiday destination, those with a more adventurous spirit can still venture off-the-beaten track here, discovering beautiful nature reserves and truly unique rock-climbing spots. We chatted to 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 some incredible spots for diving, windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing and even paragliding, as well as beautiful hiking and mountain biking trails. 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. It’s possible to start your day hiking in the forest, before heading for a refreshing dip in the ocean, then finishing it off with a fresh seafood meal overlooking the snowy slopes of Mount Teide.
Unknown climber on La cartuchos (6c+) climbing in La Galeria sector © Mikko Vänskä
In terms of rock-climbing potential, nature has been very capricious in Tenerife. The island’s unique volcanic basalt has been moulded into some truly incredible shapes, meaning that every climbing area boasts something magical. There’s routes for all tastes and abilities, from technical slabs to overhangs, crack climbing to slopers, 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 (mostly in the National Park and Anga areas). It’s always possible to find areas in the sun—or shade—and most of the crags come in and out of the sun throughout the day.
Where should I stay?
Most of the rock climbing is located within a 20-minute drive from Arico, so staying in this area and doing 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, laid-back vibe, slack line and even it’s 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 popular 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 specifically developed with beginner climbers in mind, and as a result boasts a good number (over 50) well-bolted routes up to 6b+ and an easy 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 greatest number of routes of any of the climbing areas in the island—over 250! Over time the majority of the routes have been re-bolted so you shouldn’t have to worry about rusted bolts or huge runouts. At present, you’ll find routes 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 as well as your 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 hard project. For those of you keen to do some bouldering, Arico also 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. In the Gallery—where the hardest routes are concentrated—you’ll find powerful overhangs, while the other sectors offer vertical to slightly overhanging routes characterized by technical sustained climbing with the occasional bouldery move. Bear in mind 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 a great 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 a number of 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 a vast number of excellent routes will be at your disposal. If visiting in summer, we recommend you wait for a cloudy day, or until 4-5pm on a sunny day, before heading out to avoid roasting on the wall. Make sure you stay to watch the sunset, though, as they really 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. There are a good number of spots concentrated mostly 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. Just remember that it’s the Atlantic ocean, so be sure to check the sea conditions before heading out!
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If you fancy discovering some of these incredible rock climbing areas—as well as many more—why not book onto one of our Mapo Tapo ‘Tenerife Climb & Chill’ trips run by Tenerife Climbing House. You’ll enjoy 3 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