Rock Climbing 101

Indoor rock climbing can be an amazing way to get into shape. It gives a full-body workout and it’s a great skill.

There’s a bit of a learning curve, but that’s where the facilities come into play. Each indoor climbing facility starts you off with a standard lesson in belaying, tying your basic figure 8 knot and an easy practice climb.

Learning how to properly hold and slide the rope through your hands while belaying is always a bit awkward at the start. You may initially feel like an uncoordinated twit. Luckily, once you get the feel for it, it’s easy and logical.

Try to remember that you are more secure on the climbing wall then you think. This can be easy to forget when struggling for balance.

A skilled belayer is important too. Learning to climb while being belayed by an amateur doesn’t help matters. It is an unsettling feeling if your belayer gives too much slack. This makes for a much more frightening climb and a longer fall. You will also be surprised at what a difference a securely tightened rope can make when wrestling to scale your way up a challenging wall. Every inch truly does count!

Basic Tips for Climbing:

Stay close to the wall. This will put less stress on your limbs and make for a smoother climb.

Don’t overuse your arms. Try to use your legs more to get you up higher first, to avoid too much strain on your arms.

This sounds simple enough but is easier said than done when holding onto an overhang. Your arms get tired very quickly, and if you let go you will swing off the wall completely. This might sound like fun, but getting back on the wall after is a test.

You may experience a numbing sensation in your arms during and after a hard climb, but this is totally normal. In no time your forearms will be built up from all your hard work!

Chalk is Key – When you’re in the middle of a challenging climb, it is likely your hands will get sweaty. Buy a bag of chalk to wear around your waist and don’t be afraid to take a break to chalk up.

Trim those nails– I think this is self explanatory. It doesn’t hurt to keep a pair of clippers on you in case you forget. This is, of course, unless you are one of those people with super strong, non-breakable nails. If so, I am jealous!

Pick the right shoes – Climbing shoes are meant to feel tight and uncomfortable. This is so you can easily wedge your toes onto tiny footholds and into small grooves. The shoes will also stretch out a bit over time and it is normal to take them off between climbs.

Bring a pair of flip-flops to switch into when you’re on the ground. I would also recommend the lace up kind, as opposed to Velcro, because you will have more ability to adjust the tightness of these as they stretch out over time.

Take a leap of faith – I mean this literally. Sometimes it may seem impossible to contort or stretch your body to reach the next rock. In these cases it is best to just jump for it and see what happens. If you fall, it’s okay; you can try again.

And remember to tuck those feet in when you swing!

Positioning and planning your route – All of this comes with time and practice. You will figure out certain techniques or ways of adjusting your body to give you a better reach, etc.

Being able to know which holds to go for will also come with time and experience.

Have Fun! – This is the most important part. Try not to get discouraged if you are having an off day. You will not be successful every time. It’s all a part of the gradual learning process. Regardless; you will be getting a full body workout, which feels great afterward!

Don’t be afraid to try it, even if you’re a fashionista.

Being sort of a girly girl, I had avoided activities involving scaling walls, risking calluses, broken nails or tarnished polish, and all possible injuries that might result from swinging from 25 ft. + high walls.

But seeing as though I had some extra time on my hands, was looking for new activities and good company, I thought I would give this one a go. Anticipating this as being more of a rugged, manly sport, I even suited up in my finest plaid.

On registering for my first day of climbing I was asked to fill out the typical form, signing my life away. But don’t let this frighten you, since the belay systems are fairly safe…

To put things in perspective, I make it a regular habit of falling and swinging from the wall. It’s all part of the process and even serves as a nice way of resting your arms during the middle of a challenging climb. Sure, I’ve broken some nails and bruised my knees on occasion, but that’s the worst that has happened.

Click here to see where I like to climb…      


Prudence at 23 Aug 2011

You really found a way to make this whole process esaier.

Adelle at 12 Sep 2011

Some great tips, especially the 'leap of faith'. I find that this is usually the hardest for people, but can have the most promising results in desperate times, and really gives one that extra jolt of adrenaline!

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