So You Want to start Rock Climbing? Here's 8 tips to get you started.
Hello GTS lovers! I’m elated to talk to you about rock climbing and some basic tips on getting started. Firstly, I must warn you, it’s very likely you could become obsessed with climbing the first time you put those funny looking tight shoes on. Oh, and you may start envisioning every stone wall or brick building to be something you could potentially scale. Now that I got that out of the way, let’s get climbin’!
8. Test out the indoors
We’re so lucky to have indoor climbing gyms popping up in almost every major city in the world, which makes climbing very accessible for beginners. At most gyms they will provide a basic introduction on how to use their facility and some safety rules to get started, as well as offer rental gear so anyone can partake without having to throw down a ton of doe on equipment. To start in a controlled indoor climbing area can bring a lot of peace of mind to someone just wanting to see if climbing is for them, it’s the perfect way to get your feet wet!
7. Pick Your Genre
There are several types of climbing and I’d recommend trying them all and pick whatever tickles your fancy!
- Top Roping: rope climbing with a belay partner where the rope is securely attached to the top of the wall and back down to your belay partner where he or she takes in the rope slack as you climb.
- Bouldering: climbing without a rope on shorter walls over a mat. Great for those afraid of heights.
- Lead (Sport) Climbing: a version of climbing where the climber follows a route of existing bolts and attaches the rope as they work their way up the wall until a set of end anchors.
- Trad (traditional) Climbing: predominantly not for beginners where the climber brings and places their own protective gear on the wall.
6. Gear up!
If you’re ready to get some equipment, I’d recommend starting with shoes. I’d go with a softer shoe that’s affordable or even on sale. All you need is a pair to learn with that doesn’t break the bank. One of my first pairs of climbing shoes I bought at a yard sale and they lasted me well over a year and it gave me a taste of how they work and what I would want differently or the same in my next pair. If you get into rope climbing you’ll need a harness. They come in all sizes, materials and fits. I’d also recommend just getting a basic climbing harness that feels comfortable enough to be in for a long period of time.
5. Find your community
The quickest (and most fun) way to learn climbing technique, find belay partners, or learn the lingo is through other climbers. My first day in the climbing gym I met two new friends who climbed well above my ability, and instead of being completely intimidated by them I absorbed all the pointers they gave me, and now those friends are my belay partners! Like most sports, the more you engulf yourself in the community in your area, the more excited, goal oriented, and passionate you become for it. It’s addicting! It can also give you some experienced climbers to help you learn about climbing outside when the time comes.
4. Accept failure
You will fail more than you succeed. I’m still struggling with this concept. I have to remember every time I walk into the gym, or hike out to the crag (outdoor rock face or area) that my goal here is to overcome physical & mental challenges and to enjoy the sporadic successes I’ll get in the process. Taking time to learn the reasons you do things helps you find success more quickly. This is relatable to almost everything in life, so why should climbing be let off the hook? So just learn now that failing is 100% normal and expected.
3. Wear comfort
It should be no surprise that attire for physical activity should be stretchy and comfortable to allow movement, but I’d also advise wearing form fitted clothing when gearing up to climb. I say this because there’s many scenarios where your clothing could get caught in a belay device or rope, that if baggy, could be dangerous. My current go-to outfit is my Navy Anklet Apex Leggings and a Silver Tone Tank, it’s so insanely comfortable, and has the perfect fit for wearing a harness.
2. Know your strengths
Remember that your legs will always be stronger than your arms. Try and focus on foot work and leg placement. Hand and arm strength will grow with time and practice but leg strength you have right now and it’s a HUGE help to building good technique.
1. Enjoy the ride
The most important tip I have is to be patient and flippin’ HAVE FUN! It’s beyond cliché, but having fun is what brings us back to doing these things, and how a hobby turns into a passion. Don’t take yourself too serious, don’t expect to climb well your first day or even first year, but do remember to enjoy it. Your body will use muscles it never has before, and like I said before you just might grow addicted to that feeling, the feeling to dance up a rock wall as if it’s a yoga mat. At first a little shaky and unsure of your ability, but the time will come where you can feel one with the wall, the same you did with the earth while doing down dog. Until next time. Namaste climbers.
Guest Writer & GTS Ambassador, Lori Truman @lotruman