As with any sport or activity we need a starting point. The same applies when one would like to learn how to rock climb. Old wisdom would say that, if you wanted to learn a particular skill, seek the community that is engaging in that skill, and go join them.
So taking some “old wisdom” advice, the options are, find the nearest outdoor rock climbing club and join up, or find the nearest indoor rock climbing gym and pay it a visit.
I find the latter option, visiting an indoor rock climbing gym, to be a more subtle and smooth introduction when learning how to rock climb. It has the added benefit of meeting and socialising with others whom share the same enthusiasm as you, for this wonderful sport.
What to expect on your first visit to the indoor rock climbing gym?
The well trained, experienced and friendly staff will go through with you the most important aspect of learning how to rock climb… SAFETY. The introduction to safety covers, each piece of the equipment, its purpose, how to use the equipment, and how to belay your climbing partner.
The key pieces of equipment covered for indoor climbing are, the harness, the belay device, the carabiner, and rock climbing shoes.
The skills taught during this introduction are, how to setup to belay a rock climber, tieing a figure-8 knot to attach to the harness, how to use a carabiner, and how to feed and “lock-off” the rope correctly. These basic skills are essential for the everybody’s safety.
At this point, you may be thinking, what is belaying?
To belay your climbing partner, means as the belayer, you are the anchoring point, and are in control of the rope feed, and the “locking-off” of the rope, in a smooth and succinct fashion. The idea is to provide the climber with just enough slack for them to climb freely, and continually “locking-off” the rope, so in the event of a fall by the climber, the rope is locked, free fall distance is minimal.
After displaying your understanding and proper performance of the safety skills, you are then left to your own devices, and those of your belaying partner, to start scaling the various climbing walls, the indoor climbing gym has to offer.
At first glance, all walls looks the same. However, from wall to wall, the rock climbing holds, there placement, and configuration, are purposely designed for different difficulty level, also know as the climbing grades. This allows a novice climber to move from an easier grade to a more difficult grade as their skills improve.
Although rock climbing is not regarded a team sport, it is typically not an individual sport either, but rather a communal sport that is done in pairs or with a few people.
Its time to have some fun, so grab a friend, or go solo to your nearest indoor rock climbing gym, find a partner, and start scaling the walls.