How To Get Into Climbing
Fancy getting to grips with climbing but not sure where to start? Jon Jones, head of Rock & Mountain at Scotland’s Glenmore Lodge, shares his tips for getting started and progressing to real rock.
Chances are, you’ve already heard and read about the health and fitness benefits of rock climbing. Whether you hit the wall indoors or outdoors, climbing is a fantastic physical workout that you can pitch at the right level for you – and when you go climbing you treat yourself to a mental holiday from everyday life. For a few precious hours, nothing else exists besides you, your pal and whatever you have chosen to climb that day, be it plastic holds indoors or the real tough stuff outdoors.
Getting into climbing can feel a bit daunting, though. How do you meet people to climb with? How do you build confidence and experience? What equipment do you need? And how do you progress to climbing outdoors?
Working as head of Rock & Mountain at Scotland’s National Outdoor Training Centre, Glenmore Lodge, means I’ve seen hundreds of people progress from complete beginners learning the ropes indoors to confident climbers on outdoor crags, and these are my recommendations for anyone who wants to get the skills to transition to outdoor climbing.
DON’T LET ANYTHING HOLD YOU BACK
My first and most fundamental tip for anyone wondering if they could be a climber? Don’t let any doubts about yourself hold your back.
Anyone of any age or fitness level should be able to get into climbing – there’s no ideal age, weight, body type or fitness level needed to start and progress. So there’s no excuse!
GET THE RIGHT KIT
Your indoor gear, such as your harness and rope, will work outdoors, but you’ll need additional equipment when you progress to trying trad climbing, including a basic ‘rack’ of gear (this usually includes a range of wires, camming units, longer extenders and some slings).
Pop to Ellis Brigham to get advice from experienced staff or check out our buying guides for more information.
TOTAL BEGINNER? START INDOORS
Never touched rock before? Get lessons aimed at beginners at your local indoor climbing wall. Climbing centres are great places to get a taste of what it is like to climb and brush up on your skills in a safe learning environment.
A beginner’s course is also the perfect way to meet others interested in climbing.
FIND THE CONFIDENCE TO GET OUTSIDE
Already happy climbing indoors and want to head outdoors? Getting your hands on real rock is what climbing is all about.
I recommend finding out if your climbing wall can suggest outside climbing courses in your area - at Glenmore Lodge, we offer courses tailored to suit first-time outdoor climbers.
GET STARTED WITH SPORT CLIMBING
A good stepping stone to outdoor climbing is to try sport climbing outdoors first. You’ll be climbing on bolted routes and the ropework and gear are the same as indoors, so you’ll gain experience and confidence that will help you hugely if you then want to progress to trad (from ‘traditional’) rock climbing.
Learn climbing and mountaineering skills at Glenmore Lodge, Ellis Brigham’s official training partner and the Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre.
Located in the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands, they run outdoor activity courses and holidays all year round. The Lodge offers climbing courses to suit all levels, from Discover Rock Climbing, a two-day course aimed at total beginners that will get you climbing outside, to guided climbing holidays in the Highlands and climbing instructor qualifications.
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