If our previous article about what climbing is, sparked your interest? In this article we advise how to start climbing.
As with all of the sports we love, there is risk involved and this can be dangerous. We aren’t about injury or the ‘just go for it’ attitude. You don’t want to spend weeks or months injured doing something silly that could have easily been avoided. So step one…. Mitigate the risk!
To mitigate the risk firstly, we are going to control the environment and make sure there are professionals at hand for tips and advice. To do this we are going to find a climbing centre or gym. Many have popped up through out the UK in recent years and for a full list and to find you’re nearest climbing centre there is a list of over 4200 on UK climbing. These also provide you with the ability to find climbing instructors or guides, climbing clubs and gear manufacturers.
Once you have found your local climbing wall and the outside elements are no longer an issue, it may be worth giving them a call or a visit. They will be well equipped to provide information about their centres, and answer any questions you have about getting into climbing.
Whilst it may be easy to feel a bit overwhelmed and self-conscious at this point, don’t let it stop you. Even the top climbers in the world went through this at one point and the environments are usually very relaxed with everyone just doing their own thing. No one is looking and judging and everyone is supportive and encouraging.
Different climbing centres have different rules so it is worth checking. Most will need to know if you are competent putting on a harness, tying a rope to a harness and how to belay. For new comers they usually provide a lesson followed by a test to show competence. Not only does this enable you to be self-sufficient but also raises your confidence level as now you know how to keep yourself safe.
There are several different routes divided up into colours of difficulty. Centres usually decide themselves which are easy or hard, a chart on the wall should supply this information within the climbing centre. Start with the easiest and work from there. Try to complete all of the routes until progressing to the next level. It’s usually a good idea to try different strategies to increase your confidence as you progress.
As you progress you will notice your strength, flexibility and confidence will increase, all whilst having year round fun.
If as a beginner you choose to start with bouldering to get a feel for climbing, then with bouldering, ropes are not necessary, just a pair of climbing shoes (you can also hire these). The routes are short, not too high and above crash mats. Still climbing within your limits though and build up to it. Despite the low heights and crash mats, injuries are still possible.
Be conscious of where you are. The last thing you want is to be walking along and to have someone fall on your head. It’s not good for you and not good for the climber so when moving around look out. If someone is already on the wall, it is their right of way. So be careful where you place yourself.
Try to minimise the amount of chalk you use and try to brush it off after you use it, as to not choke fellow climbers.
Keep you belongings in the areas provided when climbing, most climbing centres provide lockers or an area away from the climbing walls to leave your belongings. Nobody wants to be tripping over other people’s belongings and likewise you wouldn’t want anyone to land on yours.
If you need to rest for a while, use the areas provided. They usually have a café or a break room for relaxing, to use if you feel fatigued, but aren’t finished yet for the day.
Take turns; if you have had an attempt at climbing a route and someone else wants to give it a go let him or her. You can watch how they do it and recover at the same time before your next attempt. Its good to watch other peoples climbing techniques.
Take off your climbing shoes before going to the toilet.
Only offer advice when asked for what works for one may not work for another and sometimes people just need a bit of time to figure it out.
As you are just starting climbing rent the gear available until you are ready to start buying bits and pieces. A little bit of knowledge first will help you when you come to make your choices about which equipment to buy.
Clothing; wear clothes that are relaxed, comfortable and easy to move in. Gym clothing is usually fine, as long as nothing is hanging or can course you to get caught on a hold.
Climbing shoes available to rent. Be aware they aren’t the most comfortable things. They are designed to enable grip using your feet and your toes may feel like they are squashed.
Harnesses also available to rent.
Locking Carabiner Some climbing gyms provide them, some don’t so its worth checking first. You can pick these up at most climbing/outdoor stores.
Belay Device. Again worth checking to see if the gym provides these.
Helmet, not necessary indoors.
Chalk and Chalk bag. This will probably be the first thing you buy. Really cheap, keeps you hands dry and increases grip when climbing.
Joining a Club
Now that we have taken you through the basics and you have been climbing a few times, you could look to expand your horizons. Maybe you could join a climbing club and meet like-minded fellow climbers who could introduce to other climbing locations both indoors and outdoors. They could also help you gain experience with other types of climbing.
We hope this article has given you all you need to know and made you more comfortable on how to get started with rock climbing. In our next article we will be giving our top 5 indoor climbing venues throughout the UK.