As many of you know, I enjoy climbing as my sport of choice. I’m not fantastically good at it—I definitely need to drop my body fat a bit more and I’ve never taken a class—but it’s something that I love and enjoy doing a few times a week. Today I start a several-part series on what rock climbing is, how people can participate, and a bit of technique.
Despite the above picture, most of the climbing I do is at a gym. I am lucky enough to live four minutes away from Stone Summit, USA’s largest climbing gym. Thus, this perspective will be given for indoor climbing, otherwise known as free climbing.
You are not going to get anywhere without a good set of rock climbing shoes. If you are just starting out, I recommend renting until you know what kind of climber you are. All rock climbing shoes have a rigid rubber sole that extends over the toe. When trying on new shoes, remember that synthetic shoes do not stretch, whereas leather shoes do–up to a whole size! It’s best to go to a climber store to have a store associate help you find your first shoe. There is a lot more to buying a shoe (like strapped vs laces, edging, and even shoe tightness), but the takeaway should be this: street shoes or sneakers are not going to help you climb!
There are lots of different kinds of harnesses for different kinds of climbing. If you’re finding that you are mostly going to be in a gym, I recommend getting a harness with lots of padding for the legs and waist, but most importantly the harness should FIT. A poor fitting harness is not going to hold you if it is too loose or even too tight.
Belay Device and Locking Carabiner
Repeat after me: I will not buy a carabiner that does not lock. I will buy a locking carabiner. The purpose of this is safety; the belay device and carabiner are there to protect from falling to the point of injury. There are a variety of belay devices. I tend to be old school with my tubular device, but I have also used auto-locking devices and they have always worked well for me.
Chalk and Chalkbag
Chalk helps get rid of clammy hand sweat while also increasing grip! It is primarily magnesium carbonate but often with added magnesium sulfate which acts as a drying agent (thank you Wikipedia). The chalkbag should clip onto your harness or tie around your waist.
There is a lot more that can go into indoor climbing (like lead climbing and bouldering), but not for today!
Have you ever climbed before? What was your experience?