As a beginner, it is best to start climbing with someone who is more experience than you or has the same motivation as you do. When I first started, I didn’t know much about climbing. At the time, I wasn’t apart of any rock climbing community or climbing gym. To help those who don’t know the first steps to take, here are some ways to get started.
Finding a Group or a Person to Climb With
There is an app called Meetup where you can find groups with members with the same interest as you do. If you are looking for a rock climbing group, you can join the website or app, find a rock climbing group and join. You will meet at a certain day and at a certain time every week. This is great because it keeps you motivated and interactive with people that have the same mindset as you. If you can’t find a group on the Meetup app, you can always start your own Meetup group for others to join in your area.
Another option is just joining a rock climbing gym in your area. You can google ‘indoor rock climbing gyms near me’ to search for your nearest climbing gym. A gym alone can help you meet climbers and form friendships. You can also take rock climbing classes with other potential climbers. However, if you don’t feel comfortable meeting with strangers, asking your friends and family to join you is always an option.
If you are still struggling with finding a partner, you can try Airbnb. Airbnb now has Airbnb Experience where you can do and find creative activities within your city or another city. This is how I started climbing. I met with a host who had an Airbnb rock climbing experience for those who are in the Chicago area . Since, I knew nothing about climbing, I decided to buy this experience. The host was friendly. He was a consistent climber and taught me and four other people within the group some footwork techniques and had us do certain rock climbing routes within the gym. So, if you can find a host in your area on Airbnb, go for it.
Choosing your Climbing Position
There are three main types of climbing: bouldering, top rope and lead climbing.
Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is performed on low rock walls or outdoor rock formations, without the use of a rope or a harness. You don’t really need previous experience or instruction to do this. You can just do it on your own.
Top Rope climbing requires instruction if you want to become a belayer. With this type of climbing, the rope is already setup on the wall for you. To get started, you (the climber) and belayer attach to opposite ends of the rope. You and the belayer will make sure that you are ready to climb. Once you are on the wall, you will ascend the wall while your partner (belayer) pulls up slack in the rope through a belay device. If you want to do top rope, you can do it with a certified belayer or with an auto-belaying device at the gym.
Lead Climbing is more advanced than top rope and commonly seen when climbing outside. In this type of climbing, the climber brings the rope up the wall with her as she climbs, clipping into the carabiners attached to the wall. Lead climbing requires advanced training and climbing skill. You will need to take a class to get certified. You can do this at your local climbing gym.
Buying the Proper Gear
Proper gear is key. If you are not sure on what to buy as a newbie, you want softer climbing shoes so you can get a better grip on the wall. For bouldering, you will need climbing shoes, chalk and a chalk bag. For top-roping, you will need everything for bouldering in addition to a harness and a belay device (if you are certified to belay). Sometimes, gyms already have a belay device ‘available’ for you and will not allow you to use your own belay device. Leading climbing gear requires everything plus carabiners and ropes —all of which should be available to rent at your local climbing gym. To learn what is in my gym bag for indoor rock climbing, click here.
Taking Classes and Learning from the Best
As I mentioned before, you will need to take classes to get certified as a top rope and lead climber. However, you can also take classes to improve your footwork technique and strengthen your core. I can’t speak for all climbing gyms as all gyms don’t have the same offerings. However, there are some that have exercise classes to strengthen your core and to improve your endurance. The gym that I climb at offers specific classes for women and ways to level up if a person is struggling to break out of a certain climbing level. Check out your local gym to see what it has to offer.
In addition, watching various media of professional climbers can also give you ideas on how to be a better climber. There are so many videos on YouTube that you can take advantage of.
Here are some YouTube channels that I have watched to improve my climbing skills:
If you have tips or would like to share your experience, please leave a comment below and climb on!