The climbing gym is many things: a place to train, a place to learn and, for some, a place to meet fit folks while sending overhangs, shouting and chalking excessively.
If you’re ready to take your game outside, congratulations! You’re about to learn what climbing is all about. Here are some quick tips to get you started.
1. Learn the Area
Get a guidebook, check climbing blogs and do your homework. You’ll want to know what kind of rock you’ll find, whether your objective gets morning or afternoon sun and what concentration of grades you can expect. Look for a zone that provides warm ups, cruisers and challenges. It’s also good to have a sense of how popular (crowded) the place is, which is usually proportional to how good the climbing is and how easy it is to get to.
2. Choose a Good Partner
A good partner is more than a good belay. They’re your go-to adventure buddy because they make you laugh, know how to listen, help you motivate – and they bring snacks (See tip #6). You know you’ve found a keeper when you make each other climb better – that’s the person you want to get on real rock with.
3. Check the Weather
Are you hitting the spring rainy season? Is there a chance of afternoon thunderstorms? Flash floods? Snow? Climbing in inclement weather can be miserable if you’re not prepared, so bring layers or bail early if storm clouds roll in.
4. Be Humble
Reading rock is like learning a language – you might be fluent in plastic but you’ll need some new vocabulary for every type of rock you encounter. Granite is grippy and sharp, limestone is polished or pockety, sandstone cracks will shred your hands. It’s easy to bite off more than you can chew; start with moderate routes and remember to enjoy the process.
5. Be Polite
Personal space in the gym is a hot commodity, but it’s a little different when you’re outside. If possible, give your neighbors some room. If someone’s on a route you’ve been eyeing, climb something else until they’re finished.
6. Bring Snacks
Because there’s nothing more satisfying than a picnic after you send that proj.