The sport of rock climbing can be both an exhilarating pass time and a powerful way to promote strength, health, and exercise. While this hobby can attract its fill of thrill-seekers, it can also be the perfect sport for beginner climbers and the whole family when done with proper safety measures and proper climbing gear. Whether you find indoor climbing is right for you, or you enjoy getting close with nature throughout outdoor rock climbing, there is a type of climbing for everyone to learn.
Get to Know the Hobby
The style of climbing that works best for each climber is different and the more information a beginner can get, that safer they will be on their first climbing routes.
Is Rock Climbing Right For You?
This sport isn’t right for everyone. To promote safety while climbing, you will need both lower and upper body strength, a body free from injuries, and a the correct pieces of gear for your climb. Beyond the physical, a climb can also take a tole on those who aren’t mentally prepared. Experienced climbers can attest, this sport requires a level head while under stress and nerves of steel for those climbs that take you high off the ground.
What’s Normal After a Climb?
Protection during a climb can keep you safe from a fall, but its also important to know what level of discomfort is normal after a climb and what might be an injury. Especially as a beginner climber, it is normal for you to feel the after effects of a climb afterwards. You may experience soreness or discomfort in your large muscles from the new exertion, soreness in the hands as they adjust to the rough texture of rock, or even bruising from the climbing harness, as your body isn’t yet used to it.
While these aches and pains are normal, some issues after a climb might mean you aren’t using proper climbing technique or you may have hurt yourself. Be on the lookout of pain that goes beyond moderate discomfort or doesn’t improve over time, muscle weakness or giving out, or pain somewhere new.
Find an Expert Climber
The best way to learn, is to learn from the best. Reach out to a local climbing group or gym to find a climbing instructor or experienced climbers you can watch and learn from. A climbing guide can teach you proper climbing technique, show you climbs for you ability level, and get you the right climbing gear.
Whether outdoor climbing or an indoor climbing gym, there are certain pieces of equipment every climber will need. Each piece is imperative for the safety and productivity of your climb.
When you’re just starting out, your climbing gym will often let you rent some gear from them while you learn. Once you’ve gotten the climbing bug, you’ll want to invest in your own pair of shoes. The fit and personalization of your climbing shoes can make all the difference when you’re getting the feel of the wall or moving on to more difficult climbs.
Your clothing while climbing is up to you, but there are certain aspects of an item that make it better suited for the sport. Wear something you can easily move and bend in, but covers your body well. This coverage will keep your skin, knees, and elbows from feeling every hump against the wall or rock when outdoor climbing. Tighter, stretchy clothes will work best, so you don’t have loose fabric getting in your way or tangling with your ropes.
While not always worn and usually reserved for outdoor rock climbing, a climbing helmet can be very important to the safety of beginners. There are helmets made specifically for rock climbers and each climber should get one that fits them comfortably. These helmets can protect from falling rock, branches, bumps, or even some falls.
With rope climbing, you and your climbing partner will need a set of climbing ropes. With the basic dynamic ropes, you’ll connect together the rest of your climbing gear. After being attached to the anchor of the top of your climbing route, your rope will fall to the base. Around your body, your climbing harness will connect you to the rope. Through a network of carabiners, small metal rings, your belayer, or climbing partner, will hold control of your rope for support with a connected belay device.
Much of this equipment can help rented until you begin to advance with your fellow climbers.
Types of Climbing
Like any sport, there are many ways to enjoy rock climbing. From professional climbers to beginners, each climber will find the niche they love.
Indoor Rock Climbing Gyms
Indoor rock climbing is the most common type of climbing for beginners and those who recreationally climb. These indoor walls are covered with artificial hand and foot holds that create a variety of climbing routes.
Indoor rock climbing gyms typically have walls covered in different routes, so many in the climbing community can all come together. Some outdoor equipment stores also have small indoor routes for anyone to enjoy.
Outdoor Rock Climbing
Outdoor climbing is similar to indoor, except these routes are on natural rock formations in outdoor locations. Out door climbing requires higher skill levels and more climbing experience since it is a less controlled environment than indoor.
Top-rope climbing is a type of climbing where an anchor is placed at the top of a climbing route. The climber will move up the wall towards the anchor while a climbing partner at the bottom keeps the robe pulled tight.
This method of climbing is used in both indoor and outdoor rock climbing.
Bouldering is the only method of climbing where a robe and harness isn’t always needed. Bouldering routes are more horizontal route as opposed to vertical. Climbers to move along a wall or rock sideways, only about as high as they could comfortably jump down on their own. Climbers will still have a spotter for safety and a crash pad below for any falls.
Bouldering is also done in indoor climbing gyms and outside on rock faces.
Sport climbing is a method used by more advanced climbers, as there is less protection and requires more core strength than traditional climbing. In this method, there are bolts placed throughout a climbing route instead of at the top. Climbers will clip on a safety bolt as they progress. This comes with some extra risk, as there isn’t a belayer at the bottom keeping the robe taunt. When a climber falls, they will fall as far as their last safety bolt.
Traditional (Trad) Climbing
This type of climbing is for very advanced and professional climbers. In Trad Climbing routes, there are very few bolts placed throughout the route. Instead, climbers will place their own anchors in the rock as they climb.
There are many ways to enjoy the sport of rock climbing, from the beginner stage to professional. Check out local gyms or climbing routes to get your climbing career started!