Have you always been interested in climbing, but didn’t know where to start? Let us help, with our beginner’s guide to climbing.
Rock climbing gains Olympic status
Rock climbing is reaching new heights in popularity since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the extreme sport would feature in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Now couldn’t be a better time to head to your local climbing wall, test your footwork and see if you can stomach the adrenaline.
To belay or not to belay?
Indoor climbing or bouldering, is somewhat easier and safer, which is ideal for beginners while you gain confidence. Since bouldering consists of typically low height climbing walls (max. 4.5 metres), unlike top-roping there’s no need for ropes or a belayer. Instead, there’s an appropriate safety matting system in place.
Simply head to reception where you can rent all the gear you’ll need such as climbing shoes, a chalk bag and belaying equipment (depending on which type of climbing you’re attempting). You can get taught the basics in a matter of minutes, after which you can boulder without supervision; making it a great starting place, especially if you’re afraid of heights!
It’s not all about brute strength.
An easy mistake for beginners to worry about is strength (or lack of). Many new climbers will pay attention to grabbing the nearest handhold and only using their upper body to reach the top. In truth, it’s essential to use your whole body including being strategic with your footwork. It may sound obvious, but this will avoid you from exerting too much energy and burning out quickly.
Worried about what to wear? Don’t fret. Rules regarding climbing attire are generally quite relaxed. Experienced climbers either opt for comfortable loose clothing, such as baggy joggers and a t-shirt or lycra gym clothing – the idea is that you want your clothes to provide a wide range of motion.
We’re a social bunch, promise!
You’ll find most climbing gyms are owned by passionate, experienced climbers so even for a complete beginner, you’ll be hard pressed to find an intimidating environment. Climbing has a sense of community, so it’s not uncommon for fellow climbers to reach out to others, providing advice on a particular route, taking a break over a coffee and a chat, or even just a friendly hello. If you’re new to the area, or just looking to widen your social circle, then joining a climbing group is a fantastic way to meet new people too.