How to get into climbing, the gear and the benefits
Climbing is an increasingly popular sport and with the rise in the number of indoor climbing centres and bouldering facilities, it is accessible for more people. Climbing is a great sport for all ages, both children and adults, and provides many benefits, both mentally and physically. You can keep your hobby to the indoors environment, or take it outdoors to climb on rock around the UK – and worldwide.
What is climbing?
Essentially it is just that, climbing up a large face of naturally formed rock or an artificial rock wall indoors with man-made hand and footholds. Of course, the sport has a rich history, but the main objective and goal is to reach the top of whatever you’re attempting to climb.
Sport climbing refers to situations where there are fixed holds and anchors at the top of a rockface or wall. The anchors allow you to use ropes and have someone who “belays” you. A belayer is the person who keeps the rope taut as you climb and prevents you from falling to the ground if you come of the rockface or wall.
You can also rock climb using specialist tools – “protection” – that slot into holes in the rock so as to secure you with a rope as you ascend. Basically, you use a system of ropes, protection and belays to scale a wall or rock face and save you from falling to the ground.
There are other types of climbing, such as bouldering. You do not usually use a rope and belay system with bouldering because the boulders – outdoors or man-made indoors – are not so high off the ground. If you fall off, you will land on a crash mat placed below you.
There are some people who solo climb, which means the scale rock faces without ropes, but this is only for the craziest of climbers. ,
Equipment for climbing
Safety comes first with climbing and you’ll need a list of equipment. Once you own the kit it means you can climb as often as you want but there is an initial investment required.
From top to toe: Climbing helmet, climbing harness, belay system, climbing rope, a chalk bag and climbing shoes. You can wear clothing that is stretchy.
Getting professional equipment will set you up from the get-go. Here are some options of products that not only represent quality, but reliability, and from a company with you in mind.
Should you hire a climbing guide?
If you plan to climb outdoors and in a new area it can be beneficial to hire a climbing guide. Also, if you are new to climbing, a guide can help you to be better climber with tips on skills and technique. See the advice on guide hiring on this page and research before going anywhere, especially alone. The guides will know the climb and terrain well and will offer an all-round better experience in many cases.
When you use a guide, you will be able to sign up for climbs that are a bit more challenging as you have the guidance on hand to assist and get you through it safely and expand your rock climbing experiences and skill set.
4 benefits of climbing
- Flexibility. Climbing encourages you to stretch and increase flexibility simply by taking part in the sport.
- Less stress. Training at the climbing wall and climbing outdoors brings benefits of relaxation. While some people will find it stressful to climb to great heights, there is also a sense of being in the “zone” and focusing on the climb, which means you tend to forget everything else.
- Workout. If you’ve watched someone climb anything, never mind a rock, you will have noticed sinew and muscle tendons with great definition. Climbing gets your heart rate up, your muscles pumping and can be a full-on cardio workout, especially if it’s a long, multi-pitch climb.
- Confidence. Climbing tests your mental strength as you aim to overcome obstacles. Each time you complete a route or achieve a new climb you will feel a huge sense of personal reward and satisfaction.
Many people discover that climbing is rather addictive and they quickly become passionate about their sport.