Rock climbing: How to get started

Whether you are looking for satisfaction, fitness, or just to see how far you can push yourself, then rock climbing is a worthy quest. While rock climbing might be daunting to newbies, anyone can pick up the activity pretty quickly with proper guidance.

This article is a beginner’s guide that will get you adequately acquainted with the sport.

Know the type of climbing you want to get into

Rock climbing is an umbrella term used to encompass many different disciplines, including gym climbing, bouldering, or top-rope.

Chances are you have heard of the gym or indoor climbing. Gyms use a wall that has artificial foot and handholds placed in a certain way to create a route. These footholds and handholds can be repositioned by route setters to set new challenges.

Bouldering is just like gym climbing with the distinction that in bouldering, climbers don’t use ropes or harnesses. Climbers use crash pads to cushion them in case of a fall.

Top roping is the most popular type of indoor roped-climbing. The climber is attached to one end of a rope secured to an anchor at the top. On the other end of the rope, a belayer, which could be a trained staff or a belay device, supports the climber. The belayer controls the slackness of the rope, so the climber doesn’t fall long distances.

For outdoor climbing, the disciplines are the same as indoor climbing. Other types of climbing which could be more advanced for beginners are outdoor sport climbing and traditional climbing.

For beginners, the best place to start is the gym, where the environment is safer. Also, gyms offer convenience for people who can’t go climbing outdoors.

 Gear

The right gear is vital for a fun outing.

Indoor climbing has the lowest barrier to entry. You can get rental shoes and harness from your gym, and with no time, be up on a wall for your first climb.

Shoes

If you opt to invest in your gear, shoes are a great place to start. Rock shoes protect your feet and provide the friction required to grip footholds or rocks. You want a shoe that fits you comfortably, and for beginners, it’s advisable to go for flat sole shoes. You can find a more extensive guide on picking rock shoes here.

Rope

You will also need a climbing rope specific to climbing. Depending on the height of the climb, something over 60 meters will suffice.

Harness

Except when you are bouldering, you will need a harness. You can’t go wrong with a harness, make sure the harness you are getting is for the climbing you plan on doing. You can learn more about the right harness for different climbing here.

Carabiners

Carabiners are an essential item that is needed for belaying. The choice of a locking carabiner is dependent mainly on preference.   

Chalk

Chalk is used to remove sweat from your palms and enhance grip on the handholds or rocks.

Helmet

Helmets are pretty straight forward. They will protect a climber’s head in the event of a fall or falling debris.

Rock climbing is no longer the niche sport it once was. As more people are getting into it, safety should always be paramount, especially for outdoor climbing.

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