If you’re looking for a great way to get outdoors, get exercise, and get a healthy dose of adrenaline then rock climbing may be the sport for you. Although you may see a fair amount of daredevils on Youtube, thousands of averages Joes enjoy this sport every day.
Types of Climbing
Throughout the country and in many colleges, you will find climbing gyms. These walls allow people to try out various forms of climbing in a safe and secure environment. All of these places use artificial hand and footholds placed strategically to create routes of various difficulties. These holds can be moved and changed out so that each time you visit, it presents a different and unique challenge.
This is a great way to start climbing without having to worry about weather, equipment, or a guide.
This is normally the next step in your climbing education, as it requires little to no gear and is relatively safe compared to sport and lead climbing. Most bouldering is done at heights low enough that you feel comfortable jumping off and if you fall there is minimal chance of injury.
Crashpads, chalk, and a good pair of climbing shoes are highly recommended.
Top-rope requires you to use an anchor at the top of your route. This allows for a solid anchor point minimizing the distance you may fall if you slip. This requires a second person to be belaying you from the bottom. Belaying is a critical role and your partner should be experienced and well trained. Make sure you have a good harness, helmet, and climbing shoes.
After you’ve showed your proficiency in the beginning forms of climbing you can start to explore lead climbing. This uses all the skills you learned prior and puts a larger element of risk into climbing. Your fist foray into lead should be via sport routes, where the protection is part of the climbing route.
With lead climbing you will either have bolts already drilled into the rocks giving you solid points to clip in as you progress or it will require the leader to place nuts or camming devices into the rock to serve as anchors.
Under lead climbing there are several niches including; Sport, Ice, Alpine, Mixed, Aid, and Big Wall Climbing.
Find a Guide
Before you do anything outside of an indoor climbing gym find yourself a guide or an experienced climber to teach you the ropes and assist you as you progress through the different climbing types. This can save you a lot of money in purchasing gear and is crucial to learning all the basics of the sport including setting up routes, and belaying.
Once you’ve decided that this is something you want to do, make sure you have the proper gear to do it.
- Climbing Shoes
- Climbing Helmet
- Chalk & chalk bag
- Belay device
- Crash pads
- Anchor systems
You don’t necessarily need all of this to get started, but make sure to talk with your guide or experienced friends about what you will need before going out.