Rock climbing, both indoor and outdoor, has exploded in popularity over the last decade – so much so that a rock climbing event was been added to the Tokyo 2020/21 Olympic Games.
With this explosion comes an increasing number of people who want to get into the sport but don’t know where to start. We asked Stephen from Pinnacle Sports in Queensland what to do first if you fall into this category (pardon the poorly judged pun).
1. Go To A Climbing Gym
Once you’ve done an activity (or 2), you might want to check out one of the great indoor climbing gyms that are popping up all over the country. Climbing gyms provide you with all the gear you’ll need to get started and are generally filled with plenty of other super-psyched rock climbers.
You’ll need to go through a safety induction when you first go to the gym so be sure to check any limits on when a particular gym runs those inductions before you go in.
2. Book An Activity And Experience It
Full scale immersion is an exciting way to initiate your dirty new habit. There are plenty of service providers around who can take you out for a few hours of rock climbing and/or abseiling (also known as ‘rappelling’). The best organisations provide guides with formal qualifications and years of experience to give you a safe, gentle, and hassle-free introduction to the cliff-side world.
Read more: Bouldering for Beginners
3. Do A Course
So you’ve done an activity and you’ve been spending some time at the gym, but you’d really like to get outside again and climb some proper cliffs? Well, as you’re no doubt aware, rock climbing is a dangerous sport and it’s important that you know what you’re doing when you’re 20m off the ground. The best way to learn all the knowledge and skills you’ll need is to do a course!
Pinnacle Sports offers accredited courses that teach you everything you need to know from setting up a basic abseil system all the way up to performing complex vertical rescues. Once you’ve got a few skills under your belt, you’ll feel much more confident about tackling those cliffs.
4. Join A Club
All those skills you’ve just learned won’t be much help if there’s no one around to belay you! While the climbing gym can be a great place to meet people, another option is to join a climbing club. Most universities have a mountaineering club of some sort that tends to be open to anyone, not just students.
For less university-oriented groups, clubs can be a great way of finding and connecting with people who share the same adventure goals as you. Here are a few that you could check out: Brisbane Rock Climbers Club, Sydney Rockclimbing Club, Victorian Climbing Club or search Meetup for an appropriate group near you
Buy Your Own Gear
You can get by for a long time just using gym gear or borrowing equipment off friends, but eventually you’ll get sick of other peoples’ sweat and decide that you want your own gear.
The basics are pretty easy: shoes, harness, chalk bag, and helmet. Ropes, carabiners, anchor equipment and other similar gear is a bit more share-friendly, but you’ll want to get your own soon enough to avoid accusations of free-loading.
It can be tempting to buy stuff online but, especially for your first purchase, it’s best to go into a physical store.
There’s 2 reasons for this: firstly, you want to make sure what you’re buying actually fits you and, secondly, the staff at these stores are able to give you expert advice about exactly what gear you’ll need.
If you do end up buying online, make sure you purchase from a reputable retailer and that all equipment complies with the relevant safety standards (don’t try climbing on a rope from Bunnings – it will end very badly for you and the people who have to clean you up).
6. Get Out And Explore
You’ve got the skills. You’ve got the gear. You’ve got the mates. What else do you need? Get out there and explore all the different crags the world has to offer! There’s a global community of rock climbers that simply loves welcoming new people into the fold and it’s waiting to meet you!