Are you looking for a new and exciting hobby? Well, look no further than rock climbing! This thrilling activity can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. Here are some tips for beginners who want to get started.
What is rock climbing and what do you need to get started?
Rock climbing is an activity that involves scaling a rock face using your hands and feet. It can be done outdoors in natural rock formations or indoors on man-made walls. The primary goal of rock climbing is to reach the top of the rock formation, but it can also be done for exercise, recreation, or competition.
It’s something that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities – I know people who climb well into their 80’s. It’s a great way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors, and it’s also an excellent way to build strength and coordination. There are many different rock climbing routes to choose from, so you can always find something that’s just right for your skill level.
In order to climb, you will need a few basic pieces of equipment, including a rope, harness, carabiners, and shoes. You can hire these from most indoor climbing walls or are provided by an outdoor instructor. You will also need a partner who can belay you, which means they will hold the rope while you climb that protects you if you fall. With the proper equipment and a little practice, rock climbing can be a fun and exhilarating way to challenge yourself.
How to find a good place to rock climb?
If you’re new to the sport, it can be daunting to know where to start. Here are a few tips for finding a good rock climbing spot:
1. There are many different types of rock climbing, from bouldering to trad climbing and sport climbing which all take place outside. For the beginner, we offer some outdoor rock climbing taster session in the Peak District or you can check out your local climbing wall. The BMC have an interactive map of indoor climbing walls so that you can find a wall near to you. Indoor walls are a fantastic way to experience climbing for the first time. They are safe, easy to get to and have instructors on hand to show you the ropes (no pun intended!).
2. Check out online resources for climbing outdoors. Once you know what type of climbing you’re interested in, there are many online resources that can help you find a good spot to climb. Websites like UKClimbing offer information and beta (climbing information) on rock climbing areas around the world. UKC is a great resource and covers Rock climbing, mountaineering, ice climbing, bouldering and scrambling.
For bouldering in the Lake District check out lakesbloc.com for loads of information, maps and topos (pictorial diagrams of the routes) across the area.
3. Ask around. If you know any experienced climbers, they may be able to recommend a good spot to climb or maybe they will take you out and show you their favourite crag. If you’re lucky enough to live near a rock climbing area, stop by the local climbing shop and ask the staff for their suggestions.
4. Get a guidebook. Another great resource for finding good rock climbing spots is a guidebook. Guidebooks usually provide detailed information on different routes, as well as difficulty levels and any other important details like where to park (and where NOT to park), footpaths, approaches and descents.
5. Go exploring! Once you’ve done your research and identified a few potential spots, it’s time to get out there and start exploring. The best way to find a great rock climbing spot is simply to go out and try different areas. In the UK we are blessed with a wide range of rock types (slate, granite etc) and each area has it’s own character.
What kind of gear do you need to get started?
A good pair of shoes is essential. When you start out a good pair of trainers will do. However, once you get into it a bit more you’ll need to start buying a few items such as a pair of rock shoes and a chalk bag.
Rock shoes are specialised climbing shoes that are designed to give you a good grip on the rock. They are usually made from a sticky rubber and have a downturned toe to help you get a better foothold. They can be quite uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, but they are essential for climbing harder routes.
Climbing chalk and a chalk bag
Chalk is used to help keep your hands dry (from sweat) and provides a bit of extra grip. It comes in a block or loose form and you’ll need a chalk bag to carry it around with you. Climbing walls don’t like loose chalk as a spill from your bag will cover their floor. For this reason chalk also comes in chalk balls (little net balls) which is what we recommend getting.
If you’ve done a bit of climbing and want to start getting some of our own kit. You wont need to buy a load of things as you’ll probably be with someone with a bit more experience. They will have shared items such as ropes and quick draws but wont have personal kit such as a harness, rock shoes and a belay plate.
Rock Climbing Harness
A harness is a key piece of safety equipment and is worn by the climber. It attaches them to the rope which is then secured by the belayer. A good quality harness will be comfortable to wear, adjustable and have easy-to-use buckles. Best advice is to get to an outdoor retailer, ideally a climbing specialist such as V12outdoor and try a few on. Fit is important, so trying them on and sitting in them before you buy is a good idea.
Belay device and carabiner
A belay device is a piece of equipment that is used to control the rope when belaying. You’ll come across these on a taster session. Training on how to use them safely is essential so book a climbing session with us or at your local wall.
They range from the the simple and cheap belay plate to the more expensive assisted breaking device such as the grigri. They all work by creating friction and it’s not always the case of the higher the price the better.
Basic techniques for rock climbing
If you’re new to rock climbing, there are a few basic techniques you’ll need to master. First, you’ll need to learn how to properly fir the harness and how to tie into the rope. Then you’ll need to learn how to grip the rock. You should use your fingers, not your palms, and keep your body close to the rock. Next, you’ll need to learn how to use your feet. Look for small cracks or indentations in the rock, and place your toes inside. Once you’ve found a good foothold, apply pressure with your foot to help stabilize yourself.
Use you legs to move upwards. A lot of beginners try and haul themselves up using their arms and don’t engage their legs. You legs are used to supporting your weight so use your legs and stand up on holds, your arms are just used to keep you balanced.
Finally, be sure to breathe! It might sound silly, but breathing evenly will help you stay calm and focused as you climb.
Rock climbing is a great way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors. It’s important to learn the proper techniques and safety measures before you start, but once you do, you’ll be able to scale any rock face. With a little practice, you’ll be climbing like a pro in no time!
Point 5 Mountain Skills
If you’re interested in learning the basics of rock climbing, our taster sessions are the perfect way to get started. You’ll learn how to fit a harness, tie into a rope, and grip the rock. You’ll also learn how to use your feet and legs to move up the wall. Our experienced instructors will teach you everything you need to know to start climbing safely and confidently.