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Beginners Guide to Rock Climbing – Here is How to Get Started

So, you have come to this page because you have decided to begin Rock Climbing. However, you don’t have even the slightest idea of where to start. Let me start by telling you that you have made an excellent choice. Rock Climbing gives you a rollercoaster of emotions. It can be emotionally nerve-wracking, awesome and fun all at the same time. It is also very challenging and pushes you to your limits, and if you’re a person that is looking for a challenge to get to the top, there is no other sport that provides you that. With all these feelings brings the opportunity to take in breath-taking views and beautiful scenery.

Now, you know how great it is, but you don’t know where to start. Let me help you. There are many areas that you must be wary of and cautious about before you begin. Here is our beginners guide to becoming a rock-climber, intended to make you feel as comfortable and excited as possible to begin your new journey:

Learn from Experienced Partners

Starting off by yourself is foolish and dangerous, especially if you have no prior knowledge of Rock Climbing. It is recommended that you find an experienced climbing partner or guide to help you on your rock-climbing journey and gain as much prior knowledge from them as you can. Observing others is a wonderful way to understand the correct techniques alongside developing your own correct technique. Once you have orchestrated the basic technique of rock-climbing, you will gain experience as you go along. Experience & knowledge are two key ingredients to make rock-climbing a breeze.

Know Your Route

When you’re climbing, you should at least know your direction and your destination. As a beginner, it is OK to get lost, or simply climb up in a straight line. Experience climbers work out the route in their heads, but this ability also takes practice and time. From far, if you plan your route then it becomes easier. Understanding your route is a key skill for an experienced rock-climber. But as a beginner, perfect your technique and skill first before worrying about any routes.

Buckle Up and Get Ready

If you’re accompanied with an experienced partner, necessary equipment to begin your quest of rock-climbing is required. Rock-climbing is an intensive sport, and you will need the necessary equipment to support you and help you understand how you will be supported. Here are the basics to begin:

Shoes

Rock Climbing shoes must have a solid grip when placed on the rock. When choosing your first pair of shoes, ensure it is comfortable and durable. They don’t have to be brand new, but the grip needs to be firm when your foot is placed on the rock, especially when climbing down to avoid falling. As time passes and experience grows, you can then look to upgrade to more robust climbing shoes for the larger climbs.We have picked out the best rock-climbing shoes for beginners here.

Harness

A harness connects the rope to the climber, just to make sure you’re fully protected. But you must purchase it brand new to reduce the risk of a disaster, evening if you’re just learning. The last thing you need is an awkward rope that doesn’t keep you safe.  There are many different harness styles catered for different rope climbs. It is recommended that you choose your climbing type before selecting your harness.We have picked out the best harnesses for your rock-climbing needs.

Belay Device

The ATC belay device always comes with a locking carabiner, to attach the belay device to the rope and the harness for better control, especially in the event of falling or losing balance. It is not recommended to purchase an auto-locking device as a beginner. The ATC sport, for example, provides regular & high friction modes between 7mm-11mm and excellent braking capabilities. Focus on more traditional, lightweight devices when learning the basics. When selecting the right Belay devices, it should be intended to not look for another one as you progress, which is why looking for that efficient belay device is important.We have picked out the best belay devices for your rock-climbing needs.

Carabiners

There are two modes of Carabiners, locking and non-locking. Choosing the right mode for your rock-climb is difficult because there are so many ways of rock-climbing! Carabiners are used to connect to connect all parts of your roping system together. There is a spring inside it that holds the gate closed when the rope is attached inside of it. It is recommended to use locking Carabiners as a beginner, just for that extra support solidarity, because understandably, you wouldn’t fully trust the safety aspects just yet. There will be nerves. Depending on how you’re climbing, carabiners cater for all kinds.

We have picked out the best carabiner devices for every kind of rock-climbing. Simply click here to check out our Carabiners guide.

Rope

The all-important rope. It serves to protect you in a risk event of falling. The two components of Core and Streath keeps the rope firm and easy to handle as you pull up or down. A firm grip on the rope is essential. Let’s give you an overview of the rope types:

Static  When pulling the rope during your climb, the static rope does not stretch on a load. This should NOT be used for rock-climbing as it is not capable of maintaining pressure on impact.

Dynamic This rope will stretch on a load, reducing the pressure on the climber when taking a fall or on any high impact forces. The dynamic rope is better to use for rock-climbing.

So, you will now know that the dynamic rope is the way forward. So what types of dynamic rope are there?

Single – With a range between 8mm to 12mm, perfect for the sports climbing and big walls. They are strong, simple and are better for pressured impact in the event of a fall or a heavy pull.

Twin Ropes Twin ropes are effectively two ropes connected as one rope. The weight is slightly lighter and is also useful for abseiling.

Half Rope – Just like a double rope, but thinner with a diameter of 8mm to 9mm, better for mountain climbing. The Belay device is clipped and ran between both ropes.

So, which one should you use as a beginner? – Well, it has to be Dynamic. Along with this, it is recommended that you use a Single Rope.Want to find out the best Single Ropes as a beginner?

Backpack Essentials

You must be healthy at all times during your rock-climbing experience. We have picked out some essential items to take with you in your backpack:

For your rock-climbing experience, these are the key essentials you must take with you. But be careful of packing your backpack with other unnecessary heavy stuff. The most pressure on your back, the harder it is to climb!

Helmet

An important rule: never rock climb without a helmet. Rock debris and falling pieces hurt, tremendously. Purchase that all-important strong & robust helmet. If you’re an indoor climber who doesn’t use helmets, don’t make the mistake of doing so as a beginner to outdoor rock climbing.We have picked out the best helmets for rock-climbing.

Pads & Gloves

Protect yourself from rope burn and purchase Belay Gloves. As you reach up to the rope to climb up, a weak grip can result in heat friction between your hand and the rope. A firm grip makes climbing up all the easier. Keeping your knees contracted during every climb is also important, so they are kept strong as you climb up. Simple sporting knee pads are good enough.

We have picked out the best Belay Gloves for rock-climbing. 

Start Small and Grow

If you’re going to become an experienced rock-climber, do it right!  You may achieve records in a gym, but believe me, rock-climbing is on a whole new level of achievement yet extremely rewarding. It is recommended that you practice by beginning with indoor or small climbs and gradually increase the challenge. Start off with rougher rocks that cover a short distance between your steps, so you become acclimated to the walls and develop your technique. What’s more, you will avoid any freak injuries, and rinse out any mistakes you make, in preparation for a bigger climb and ultimately growing your experience.

Here are some technique tips followed by some tips for a simple climb:

  1. Climb a rock where the stepping distance is small.
  2. Place your straight-pulling arm on a firm grip
  3. Place and push-up with your opposite leg onto the next high step
  4. Use your pulling arm to push up as you climb
  5. Repeat

As you go through the simple motion of a rock-climb, remember these things:

  1. Keep your body close to the wall at all times
  2. Maintain an average pace to start with
  3. Begin your climb on a firm grip
  4. Climb with strength from your leg and opposite arm at the same time

You’re on your way to perfecting the technique of a rock-climber. It takes practice, so get it right early.

If you have been an avid indoor rock climbing but would like to transition to the outdoor climb, click here to read our advice to you.

Practice Falling

If you keep falling or keep missing a step as you climb, it is more likely because you’re not ready yet. But don’t panic, that is OK. The threat of plummeting 60-80 feet to your death is part of the thrill-ride of rock-climbing. Sure, it may make hairs stand up at the back of your neck and send shivers down your spine, but accepting that you may fall is all part of the process of growing your experience as a rock-climber. What’s more, getting that fear-factor out of your system will make your rock-climbing experience even more enjoyable in the long-run.

Here are some falling tips to take on board:

  1. Take a safe spot where is empty underneath you
  2. Push out from the rock so the rope becomes tighter.
  3. At the same time push down on the rope and onto the next below step.
  4. Land onto the next step – and practice missing a step
  5. Repeat

Perfecting the difficult areas of rock-climbing, including the art of falling, is all part of the experience and technique.

Be Physically Ready and Mentally Focused – A Must!

This might not seem important now, but in the middle of that all-important rock climb, you may regret not following these tips. When you begin the all-important rock climb, pulling a muscle is the last thing you need. Then you’re stuck. You either decide on the spot whether to carry on the climb or come back down. Either way, you’re stuck and you’ll need to continue putting the energy in to go and up down! With my experiences, I instantly took my rock-climbing experience too lightly.

Rock-climbing takes up a lot of your energy and it is essential that you stretch your muscles from head-to-toe so that you’re flexible and your muscles are loose, ready to go. It is also easy to become nervous during a climb and start to have second thoughts, especially as a beginner. Your mind must be ready for any situation, either you’ve had a slight fall, or you’re feeling extremely tired, but you’re not at the top yet. Having that all important mental energy and focus would get you through your rock-climb. I did mention earlier that it is rewarding but tough.

Share Your Experience with Others

That sense of sharing your knowledge and experience with others is clear proof that you have made it as an experienced rock-climber and have gone through all the twists and tribulations of a beginner. Giving advice to other beginner rock-climbers who want to begin rock-climbing (just like you want to right now) is the objective you should look to get to.

After following all the essential tips in our guide, you can then give yourself the title as an ‘Experienced Rock-Climber’.

Read more Protection You Need For Rock Climbing