Climbing as a beginner can feel overwhelming, especially in today’s mega gyms. Climbing next to hundreds of people that know what they are doing can make your first few months at the gym uncomfortable and cause you to stop going.
Don’t let this happen to you! Here are a few things to get you started at becoming an expert climber.
1. Don’t Train to Hard
When you are just starting out it is important to not get impatient with the level you are climbing at. Many people think that using finger trainers or climbing 7 days a week will make them stronger faster. Unfortunately, this often leads to injury.
For your first 3-6 months or consistent climbing, you need to take it easy. You will need to build up finger strength and proper climbing technique slowly in order to stay healthy. Make sure you read about climbing injuries to make sure you stay in tip-top shape.
2. Expensive Shoes Aren’t the Best Shoes
Without a doubt, every time you go to the gym you will see someone projecting a V1 with $180 La Sportiva’s on. Not only is this bad for your wallet but also for your feet.
Climbing shoes are designed to force your foot into a certain position. It just so happens that the more expensive a shoe gets, the more aggressive it gets as well. Without working your feet up to this you will most likely develop toe and foot problems.
When starting out, make sure to get some comfortable shoes from a respected manufacturer.
3. Be Careful Who You Trust
Climbing gyms are breeding grounds for self-proclaimed experts. These are often people who recently came back from their first outdoor climbing trip and think they know everything about rock climbing. Listening to these people can be either unproductive or either dangerous.
The climbing life cycle goes like this: beginners know nothing and want to learn about everything, then climbers think they know everything and don’t want to learn anything, and finally climbers realize they know nothing and want to learn everything.
Another words, if someone tells you they know how to do something they probably don’t know what they are talking about. A real pro will be modest and reserved.
Climbing is a humbling experience so be prepared for it.
4. Outdoor Climbing is not the same as Indoor Climbing
If you climb in the gym enough you will most likely end up hearing some people talking about climbing outside. Depending on where you live, real rocks can be located within a short drive.
Outdoor climbing is not as straightforward as climbing in the gym. You will not find clearly labeled routes with tape marking each hold outside. You will be lucky to even find the route or problem you want to work out let alone the correct holds.
Make sure for your first trip you find a friend that has climbed outside before to make sure you have all the necessary gear for your trip. Try to check out these climbing spots for more information.
Climbing grades are a touchy subject for both bouldering and lead climbing. It is a way that climbers push themselves, but it can also be very frustrating.
Due to the nature of the sport, grading is extremely subjective. You easily add or subtract one grade for any climb. The trick is to not get too caught up in the numbers. Find a climb that works for you and have fun. Use grades as a guide to see what should challenge you and keep pushing your limits.
Warning: Climbing is Inherently Dangerous
As a beginner climber, you will be subjected to rapidly expanding forearms, OCD (obsessive climbing disorder), and thoughts about quitting your job/dropping out of school to travel the world in search of rocks.
Now that the disclaimer has been stated we have no legal responsibility if one of these (or any other symptom of climbing) happens to you.
For more information check out this guide on how to start rock climbing.
Make sure to leave us a comment below with any thoughts or concerns.
Have fun and keep crushing!