Rock climbing in Sagada
Rock climbing in Sagada

Visitors come to Sagada for its cool climate, its beautiful pine-clad mountain slopes, its relaxing vibe, and its friendly locals. Travelers stay for a couple of days to enjoy Sagada’s caves, its waterfalls, its hiking trails, and its culture.

But besides these, I think this quaint little town up in the Cordilleras also deserves fame for one other thing—its beautiful cliffs that are just perfect for rock climbing.

Our guide Lino prepares the rope, slings and anchors.
Our guide Lino prepares the rope, slings and anchors.

Almost everywhere you look in Sagada, you’ll see rock walls and cliffs that seem to be just begging to be gripped and scaled.

Rockclimbing trek
Trekking down to the climbing area

I’d visited Sagada several times, but despite my interest in climbing, I had never scaled any of the town’s dozens of cliffs. When Kara and I returned there last October, I made sure that this little oversight would be corrected.

I even brought my own pair of climbing shoes, despite the bulk it added to my backpack just to make sure my feet would have a reliable grip on the walls.

Sagada Rockclimbing 1
Gripping the holds on a wall in Sagada

On October 30th, after a morning spent trail running and biking, we dropped by the Sagada tourism office to check if we could hire a guide and rent some gear. There was some confusion about whether rock climbing was on their menu that day, but we eventually got a guide.

Sagada rock climber
Sagada’s cliffs are just begging to be scaled.

The fee was Php 800 for 2 persons, which was not exactly cheap, but at least we were getting all the gear we needed.

After a short seven minute hike from the town center, we reached the wall we were supposed to climb. It was just at the back of the cemetery, which was itself just at the back of the church.

Rock climber in Sagada
Kara (travel up) scales a wall in Sagada

This is what always amazes me about Sagada, the walls are just right there. No hour long hikes needed to start climbing.

Lino, our guide, set up the top rope for us, and from thereon it was an afternoon of rock climbing bliss. Kara and I took turns on the two routes which could be covered by our top rope.

The wall we did was not particularly difficult. I must admit that there are a lot of routes in Montalban that have a higher difficulty rating. Most hardcore climbers, especially the dudes at Power Up, may find the wall we climbed too easy.

Sagada rock climber
It’s a relatively easy wall

But the Sagada wall we sampled  was just perfect for those who want to get a taste of scaling real rock walls.

Since neither Kara nor I had climbed in the past two months, we thought the routes were going to be really difficult, but they were OK.

I’m sure there are also more challenging walls in Sagada just waiting to be discovered by gnarlier climbers, and I hope to sample those too when we return.

Sagada Rock Climber
Kara (Travel up) is almost at the top

In the same way that newbie surfers flock to Bagasbas instead of Siargao, newbie rock climbers should also try Sagada.

It doesn’t hurt either that you get to enjoy fresh mountain air after getting pumped from scaling its cliffs.

And what about all that beautiful scenery? I don’t think you can get that anywhere else in the country except here.

Enjoying the sunset after the climb
Enjoying the sunset after the climb

On the hike back, you could take a detour and visit some of the coffin caves where Sagada’s residents traditionally buried their dead. Just don’t climb them though.

Coffin caves in Sagada
Coffin caves in Sagada near the rock climbing area

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