It’s easy to see how rock climbing can become addictive. There’s something empowering about being half way up a wall, your destiny in your own hands and a beautiful view to match. But beginning the climb can seem a little intimidating. Here’s all you need to know to get you started, and eventually out into the woods scrambling up a 5.14!
1) Equipment to get started
Before you run out and buy all the gear, it’s a good idea to rent from your local climbing gym to make sure like to climb to begin with. To climb inside, you will need:
- A harness
- A locking carabiner
- Climbing shoes
- A belay device
- Chalk bag (optional)
If and when you want to venture outside, you will also need:
- A helmet
- Climbing ropes
- Crash pad (optional)
2) Safety Checks
After you’ve got your gear, the next step is to put it on! The harness is pretty simple – step into it so the carabiner loop is at the front. It’s also a great idea to get your partner to complete all the safety steps in case you’ve missed anything.
- Check each leg buckle
- Check the wait buckle
- Check straps aren’t twisted
- Check the belay loop isn’t twisted
Buckles change from harness model to harness model, but a good rule of thumb is when the straps are double backed as they should be, the buckle reads like a ‘C’ for Closed.
Belaying is where you begin. It’s the partner system that keeps you and your partner safe up on the wall. The first step to belaying is getting the rope connected to both your harnesses – the climber will use a figure-8 rewoven knot, and you will use your belaying device. Here’s a little video to show you how:
Always check each other’s harness for safety after you attach the rope too just to make sure!
- Check the carabiner is properly clipped to the belay loop
- Check the rope is properly threaded through the belay device
- Check the rope is properly looped through the carabiner
- Check the rope is facing the right way
- Check the carabiner gate is locked
4) Climb on!
It’s time to climb! All routes are labelled with numbers (and usually funny names!) and are color coded. Start off with something that looks fun, and is relatively easy to warm up on – usually the lowest number (5.4 for example). There’s no rush to the top, so only do routes that make you feel could and that are matched to your skill level. If you love it, you’ll soon be moving on up to higher numbers and harder climbs!
Some things to know before you grab that first hold:
- Always let your belayer know you’re about to climb, and get a response back from them so you know they’re paying attention
- Keep your eyes and ears open for any commands from your belayer (you may climb too fast for them and they may need you to slow down to catch up)
- Falls will happen, but when you’re ready to come down from the top, yell down to your belayer so they can brace – ‘Ready to lower!’
- If the rope is too tight when you’re climbing, yell ‘Slack!’
That’s it! If you are a complete beginner, we always recommend you ask someone at the gym to help you get started. You can also find local climbers to chat to about climbing outside, or some extra tips they may have picked up over their years of experience. Remember, climbing should always be a fun filled activity. If you’re getting too tired, just stop for the day (or take a break in your Crazy Creek!)!
Have fun y’all!