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10 Tips for Rock Climbing Wall Beginners

Have you ever hesitated to say SURE when asked to go hiking? Have you ever struggled to say NO PROBLEM when invited to go biking together? It seems to be no. But how about rock climbing? Maybe you’ll say, “Oh, let me see.” Why? That’s because rock climbing usually is regarded as an athletic adventure that has always seemed slightly beyond our reach. Dangling 45 feet from the ground, held only by a rope, sounds like a feat of Herculean strength we’re not sure we possess.

 

However, research shows that rock climbing can provide an aerobic workout, build upper-body strength, and maintain cardiovascular fitness. In addition, figuring out the best way up the wall gives our brain a mental workout as well.

 

It turns out that scaling the side of an indoor climbing wall is actually a lot less scary than we thought. So for beginners, start your rock climbing with indoor wall climbing is a good choice and here are 10 tips for you before walking into your nearest climbing gym.

 

1. Pick Your River

There are several types of climbing (Learn details of climbing types in JP’s news posted on 17/05/2017). Try them all to see what floats your boat. Top-roping (or rope climbing) with a belay partner allows new climbers to cover a lot of distance on the walls. No partner? No problem—use an auto-belay.

 rock climbing wall

If you're afraid of heights, bouldering—rock climbing without ropes—is a great option since the walls are shorter. If rope climbing is long-distance running, bouldering is like sprinting, someone think.

 

2. Get Geared Up

Proper footwear is key. Softer climbing shoes are recommended. Skip socks if they're your own shoes, and wear thin ones if you're renting. For bouldering, the only other piece of equipment you need is a chalk bag, and you’re good to go. For top-roping, climbers also need a harness, lead rope, chalk bag, carabiner, and belay device—all of which should be available to rent at your climbing gym. (Learn more about Clothing and Gear for Gym Climbing in JP’s news posted on 24/05/2017)

 rock climbing wall

3. Learn The Ropes

Now you've got the gear; and you have to learn how to properly belay. In fact, climbers have to be belay-certified before hitting the wall on their own, so taking a class is essential. 

 

4. Choose Your Route

Top-roping routes will always start with a five, followed by a decimal point, and then another number that corresponds to the difficulty level of the climb. Routes labeled 5.5 or 5.6 are beginner routes, and the higher the number after the decimal point (like 5.12), the harder the climb. Bouldering routes are rated by the V-scale, starting with V0.

Once you've selected a path, begin with both hands on the start holds (usually labeled with two pieces of tape), keeping your feet off the ground. Then follow the same color route up the wall. No cheating by going off the color. Some routes won’t have two footholds at the start, so you can just keep the other foot against the wall when you begin.

 

5. Engage Your Core Strength

It seems like climbing would require serious upper-body strength, but your core strength is actually most important. Experience in sports like gymnastics, yoga, or Pilates gives first-time climbers a leg up. Other necessary body parts you’ll need to recruit are your fingers, hands, and upper body (arms, shoulders, and back).

 

6. Keep Arms Straight

Climbing can become more efficient when keeping your arms straight. At the same time, try to keep your legs bent, which makes it easier to push yourself up with your lower body.

 

7. Plan Your Climb

It's a smart idea to sequence the hand movements and identify all of the footholds on the wall before you start your climb. As you gain more experience, you'll be able to read sequences better, which is considered a great skill. Also try looking for clues: Which holds have chalk on them (to tell you where other climbers have been placing their hands) and which have rubber marks from shoes?

 

8. Learn The Lingo

It’s essential to communicate properly with your belay partner so you’re both on the same page.

 rock climbing wall

9. Take A Safe Leap

Coming down from the top of the wall can seem scary at first, but as long as you've taken all the proper safety precautions, you'll be fine. And it's actually pretty fun! When you’re ready to come down, alert your belayer (“lower“), straighten your arms, keep your feet against the wall, and let go with your arms. Think “feet first” so you can push off your legs. It can be safer and less harsh on your knees to try to climb down the same way you climbed up, rather than bounce against the wall

 

10. Prepare Before Going Outdoors

Rock climbing in a gym is a completely different sport than climbing outside. Grades are going to feel a lot harder outside than inside. Plus, you probably won't have access to trained instructors and the outdoors is a less-controlled environment—you're at the mercy of weather conditions and natural holds. But when the time comes, as long as you take the proper safety precautions and communicate well with your partner, heading out can be way more fun than climbing indoors.

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