Numerous paths exist to venture into rock climbing, be it utilizing an indoor climbing wall for routine physical activity, or aspiring to be part of a climbing group for adventurous exploration in nature.
Rock climbing is growing in popularity both as a form of exercise and as a sport in itself, thanks to the different varieties available and the way it provides an intense workout for both mind and body thanks to the concentration required.
Start with a Climbing Gym
One of the easiest and safest ways to get into rock climbing is to start out at an indoor climbing gym. If you want to climb to work out then this is the best way to go, and if you want to learn the skills to climb outside safely, this is the best place to start.
Most climbing gyms will have fake climbing walls and scenarios which enable you to practice all the skills and moves without danger. That way you can grow in confidence before heading out to tackle rocks for real.
You should go to a proper dedicated climbing gym rather than just a gym that has a climbing wall, as that won’t give you enough variety of experiences to test out all of your climbing skills. You need the full experiences which will include a wall, classes, and the opportunity to try out different types of climbing including leading and bouldering.
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What You Will Need for the Climbing Gym
For starting out at a climbing gym you will just need some general sportswear and some training shoes with closed toes. The gym should allow you to rent a harness and specialist climbing shoes as well as hand chalk to keep your hands dry.
The gym should be teaching you how to use ropes to climb and how to belay, using rope systems, so make sure all of these are included in all of your climbing gym membership options so that you know you will be learning all the vital skills.
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Moving to Outside Climbing
Making this change is really important and you should always start outside climbing with an experienced guide or mentor, or as part of a group. No matter how many times you practice at an indoor center it won’t be enough to prepare you for climbing outdoors.
With all of the safety systems provided in the gym, when you do make the move to climbing outside it will still be quite a culture shock so take it very carefully and safely, and then as your outdoor experience grows, so will your confidence.
There are a number of options for making this move to climbing outdoors safely. You can either find an experienced climber to become your personal mentor, but make sure they are someone that you can trust and get on with, and who has the relevant skills and experience you need.
Or you can look for a climbing guide if you choose to, who will guide you through everything you need to know and help you using set routes and techniques, make sure they are experienced and qualified guides.
The final option is to join a rock climbing group so that you have people to learn from and can join a group of fellow novices being led by an experienced leader, but this is better to progress to once you have a bit more outdoor climbing confidence, after a one-to-one guided session.
Buying Your Own Equipment
The next stage is to buy your own equipment, but seek advice from your guide or mentor before rushing out and spending a fortune like a lot of gear can be rented. You will need to invest in your own personal equipment set.
This will include your own harness, climbing shoes, chalk bag, and belay setup. You will need to have this with you every time you go climbing outdoors. You need to make sure that any equipment you buy comes from a professional climbing store.
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Getting into rock climbing might seem a bit intimidating at first but there are plenty of opportunities to learn and practice the skills safely at first at an indoor climbing gym, which will also help to boost your confidence as you start out.
Once you are ready to move to the next stage you need to find a professional guide or mentor to help you on your journey to outdoor climbing, safely and securely, using your own set of climbing equipment.
Finally, you might want to join a regular climbing group for rock climbing trips and events as you grew in confidence and want to start enjoying the experience with other like-minded climbers and taking on more challenges and seeing more natural climbing sites.