8 Rock Climbing Basics All Beginners Should Know
If you're new to the sport then you're in the right place, check out these eight rock climbing basics and start improving your performance.
Getting ready to do some rock climbing?
Trying to figure out the rock climbing basics?
Rock climbing can be a great way to stay in shape and improve your health. However, before you hit the rock climbing gym, you need to know a few things about what to expect. It can take time for you to become a rock climbing pro, but by learning a few things early on you'll make sure that you're starting out on the right foot.
Below we'll look at 8 rock climbing basics that all beginners should know.
1. Know the Climbing Types
First of all, you'll need to know a few basics about the different climbing types that are available to you. The two major ones you'll need to know about as a beginner are rope climbing, also known as top-roping, and bouldering.
Rope climbing is exactly like it sounds and when doing it you'll be using a rope to help you with a long climb. You can do this with a partner but you can also use an auto-belay if you're doing it alone.
With bouldering, on the other hand, you won't be using a rope. The wall will also be much shorter.
Both of these types of climbing can be a lot of fun, so try both to see what style of climbing you prefer.
Be aware that there are different types of rock climbing that you can do outside as well, but as a beginner, you'll likely want to stick to the indoor bouldering and top-roping until you have more experience.
2. Choose the Right Gear
You also need to make sure you're using the right gear for your climb.
First of all, you'll want to make sure you have some good shoes for the job. Soft shoes are ideal and will allow you to get a better grip when climbing. Also, wear thin socks along with your shoes. If you own the climbing shoes and you're not renting them, you may not want to wear socks at all.
For bouldering, you'll only need your shoes and a chalk bag. For rope climbing, you'll need to have a chalk bag, a harness, a lead rope, a carabiner, and a belay device.
The gym will take care of most of these items for you and anything you need can be easily rented.
3. Decide on Your Route
When you're rock climbing in the gym you actually won't have to start from scratch. There will already be multiple rock climbing routes that are laid out for you and clearly marked. Each of these routes has varying levels of difficulty and some will be suitable for beginners while others are only intended for more advanced climbers.
Top-roping routes include a five along with a decimal such as 5.5 or 5.12. The lower the number after the decimal the easier the climb will be.
Bouldering uses a V-scale with the numbers going between V0 and V16, with the lowest being the easiest.
4. Plan Your Climb
Once you get ready to start a climb, it's a good idea to look closely at it before you actually get started.
Take a look at the wall and see if you can plan your steps and holds ahead of time. Try to plan out exactly where you'll be placing your feet and hands along the route and what the best course of action will be.
It's not always easy to know ahead of time what will work and what won't, especially as a beginner. However, as you get more skilled with rock climbing you'll be able to make your plan of action beforehand. This is a great habit to get into.
5. Keep Your Core Engaged
Beginner climbers often underestimate the importance of their core, but the truth is that core strength is one of the most important things you need to become an excellent climber. Make sure that you're keeping your core strength engaged and using it during your climb.
It's important to use the right exercises to strengthen your core if you want to become a great climber. Yoga and pilates can be two great ways to build your core up and get it ready for some climbing.
Even some experienced climbers forget how important their core is so by keeping this in mind from the very beginning you'll get started out right.
6. Arms Straight, Legs Bent
While it may not be obvious to you, keeping your arms straight out as much as possible during a climb is ideal. Bent arms can actually cause a lot more tension when climbing than keeping them straight and can be more stressful on your body.
Remember that during a climb you'll want to err more on the side of keeping your arms straight. On the other hand, you'll want to be using your bent legs and lower body strength to propel yourself upwards.
7. You Need More Variety
If you want to become a strong climber it's important that you incorporate as much variety as possible into your practice. Don't always focus on going upwards but take time to practice climbing downwards and traversing the wall as well.
Downclimbing is essential for strengthening your feet. Beginners to the sport often neglect this very useful part of the body when climbing and tend to focus too much on the arms and hands.
Traversing, or going horizontally from side to side is also something you should be working on. Practicing traversing is also a big help in strengthening your feet. It can also help your mind get better at looking for the best paths to take.
8. Better Ability Comes With Time
The last thing you need to know as a beginner is that becoming a proficient rock climber takes time. Make sure that you're practicing regularly and are regularly coming into the gym.
With a regular practice, you'll become more proficient at planning your routes and your body will start getting used to the new ways that it's being used. By repeatedly climbing you'll build the adequate core, upper body, and lower body strength you need to do the harder climbs. You'll also have much better grip strength.
This kind of proficiency only comes with time and practice, so don't be discouraged if it's a bit difficult during your first climbs. It will get easier and more fun as time goes by.
Learning the Rock Climbing Basics
Every great rock climber out there started at the beginning, so don't worry. Once you know about the rock climbing basics above you'll have a great chance of getting started right and becoming an excellent climber in time. Pretty soon you'll find yourself taking on more and more challenging climbs and experiencing the true joy of rock climbing.
Ready to get started climbing? Questions or comments? Contact us today to learn more about Prescott Rocks and Rec and what we can offer you.