The weather is beginning to cool down, and the humidity of summer is all but evaporated, making for much better friction on boulders across the state of Alabama. This is the best time to climb in the Birmingham area, and the following locations are the best places to do so:
1. First Avenue Rocks
If you do not have the shoes, ropes, or crash pads quite yet, a rock gym is the perfect place to start climbing and practicing. First Avenue Rocks, located downtown, is a great place to start start climbing, especially when the weather prevents outdoor climbing from being an option. First Avenue Rocks is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
2. Horse Pens 40
The Birmingham area has some spectacular bouldering areas that aren’t too far from home, and Horse Pens 40 is one of them — and as far as quality climbing goes, this place is in a league of its own. The wide variety of beginner-to-expert routes at this sandstone sanctuary makes for some of the best climbing in the country. Be sure to call ahead of time to reserve a camping spot, so that you can spend an entire weekend here, because you’ll need it. The daily fee is only $8.00, and you can rent crash pads and other gear.
3. Moss Rock Preserve
Only 20 minutes from downtown, in Hoover, Moss Rock has some excellent boulders to climb. One of the best aspects of Moss Rock is that if you do not have a climbing buddy to go with, you can easily meet one within minutes of arriving. This is very social spot, and with so many characters around, it’s really easy to learn something new. Sharing a crash pad isn’t frowned upon either, as everyone seems to share in the climbing experiences, develop new routes, and spark friendly competitions. There are about 40 different problems to try, and the climbing can range from beginner to very difficult, depending on the route.
4. Hospital Boulders
Unlike many of the well-explored crags throughout the southeast, Hospital Boulders is new and still under development, so you’ll be exploring and climbing new lines on a wide variety of problems. There are about 150 to 200 problems as well as some short top-rope and sport climbs in the area. We suggest you take the opportunity to check out Hospital Boulders so you can say you were there before it became the place to climb in Alabama.
Other excellent climbing locations in the area include the cliff line overlooking the small town of Steele, Alabama, the pinnacles at Sand Rock, and the beginner friendly top-roping crag at Palisades Park.