I was once a beginner climber myself, believe it or not. So fresh, so new, yet so uneducated in the workings of climbing culture. Beginner climber, I know what you are going through. You’re intimidated on the daily, you learn 20 new vocabulary words every time you climb, and you really, desperately, want to feel like a member of the climbing community.
Rest assured, all of this comes in time with little to no effort on your part! Experience is obviously a major key in feeling like you belong. However, if you’re like me and enjoy feeling prepared for every single thing you do in your life (almost to a fault), this list should at least somewhat inform you of the most basic things you should know in the early stages of your climbing journey. Enjoy! 🙂
stuff every beginner climber should know:
- Don’t break the bank with your first pair of shoes – Find the cheapest pair you can find for your first pair; save the expensive aggressive shoes for next time when you’ll be able to benefit from them.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – People will seem intimidating and in some cases unfriendly, but that’s only because they’re focused. Generally, people will be happy to answer any questions you have, especially if it’s a simple one.
- Climb (and fall) lots – The absolute best thing you can do as a beginner to improve is to climb and feel comfortable falling. I cannot stress this enough. You’re actually lucky – your “training” is simply climbing. No need to actually train until you have reached your plateau and you haven’t seen improvements in awhile. Once you’ve reached your plateau, check out A Beginner’s Guide to Bouldering Training to get started… but only when you’re ready!
- Watch others – Pay attention to how other climbers move. There’s a lot of balance involved with climbing and that’s why experienced climbers seem to just glide up the wall. Watch and try to mimic those movements on your own.
- Invite yourself to climb with others – Many experienced climbers have their own group of people they generally climb with (inside or outside) and don’t always think of inviting new people along. Don’t take it personally! Ask around to see if anyone would mind an extra person. Or, if you want to avoid feeling awkward, wait until you hear about an upcoming trip and ask if you could join. Note: mostly in the case of rope climbing, make sure you have some experience prior to leaving or you know for a fact that someone is willing to teach you when you arrive. And don’t forget your harness!
- Be careful of your surroundings – Don’t walk underneath people climbing, and stand far enough away from the wall in case someone flies off. Also, if your gym has moveable mats, make sure you’ve placed one under your climb. That’s your responsibility, don’t forget!
- Don’t wear headphones – For safety reasons of course. I almost kicked someone new in the face because they came and stood right behind my route just as I was about to do a cut-loose move. Luckily I peered behind me half way up the wall as a precaution, but I still had to yell at him 4 times before he heard me!
- Speed up your communication by learning the jargon – Climbing terms are silly and weird. Hear a word that makes no sense? See if you can find it here: Climbing Terminology: Nonsensical words that actually make sense.
Climb on xx