How to start rock climbing

Crash pads are expensive, note the climbers we talk to, so until you’re really serious about regular climbing outside of the gym, you’re better off climbing with friends first. more experienced (and prepared), taking lessons with instructors who can provide equipment or rent a mat at a climbing site. For the block you will want to have some chalk and a chalk bag at hand; you can find basic ones at most sports retailers, but if you want something more personalized, Etsy has a lot of options.

For those who practice roping, the list of equipment is longer: you will need a 60 to 70m ropesome carabinersa sturdy harness (make sure it’s UIAA certified), a helmet, a groundsheet or tarp to hang your rope from, and a belay-assisted braking device like a Petzl Grigri, as well as shoes and chalk. Depending on where and when you’re climbing, “good, warm clothes are important,” says Twyford. “I love climbing in leggings but I tend to have to wear a sports top, a Capilene base layer, R2 technical hoodiethen an assortment of Patagonia down jackets.” [Editor’s note: Patagonia is one of Twyford’s sponsors.]

If you really like rock climbing, the Mountaineering: freedom of the hills mountain guide is highly recommended as a sort of compendium of best practices, with sections on how to perform basic first aid, how to climb snow, and more.

Climbers at Stone Fort during the Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival 2017 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Vikki Glinskii

Where to climb

To find places to climb in your area or in an area where you may be going on a road trip soon,, the rockand are great resources for itineraries. All are crowdsourced websites, with in-depth articles and photos from climbers who have visited before you. Guides can also be helpful, although the first-person experience is often your best bet. If you don’t have friends already versed in climbing, groups like Climbing brunette girls, never stop movingand cunning flash exist to help women tap into the community and meet people to climb with. Plus, guided rock climbing tours planned by places like Fox mountain guides and Alpine climbs ensure a safe experience.


Of all the terminology prevalent among climbers – beta (strategy), setters (gym employees who reset the routes of walls) – rating systems are perhaps the most immediately useful to know. In the United States, bouldering routes are graded using the V scale, starting at V0 and going up to V16, becoming increasingly more difficult as the number increases. Ratings, however, may change: the first person who climbs a route may rate it, but as more people climb it (and post their opinions about it on the internet), this may change.

Rope climbing (again, in the US) follows the YDS scale, with technical ascents rated from 5.0 to 5.15, with 5.1 to 5.4 being classified as “easy”. REI offers a deeper analysis notes guide here.

Overcome nerves

If this all seems overwhelming, start small: head to a nearby climbing gym, where you’re bound to meet people who can help you. “Just try; generally people are very friendly and helpful,” says Twyford. Also, knowing your initial limits is helpful. “It’s easy to be intimidated when you see a lot of really strong people doing these really cool things,” Monnett says. “If you’re having trouble with something, you can always ask someone and someone will help you.”

Also, be patient: “It took me probably three to six months to feel like I really understood, before I knew the technique and I didn’t have to think about every climbing move to do it right. “, says Monnett. . “But if you keep climbing you’ll start to see progress quickly and that’s a lot of fun.”

Virginia F. Goins