by Roger

October 13, 2021

Indoor Climbing Basics

If you are a beginner interested in learning how to climb, improving your skills, and building up your strength, then gym or indoor climbing is the best way to go. If you don’t know where to find a climbing gym, you could try using the climbing gym map.

This is an interactive map updated and maintained by the climbing business journal. The map is meant to link climbing enthusiasts with the closest climbing facilities in their location.

You need to be aware that various climbing gyms have varying classes, pricing, height, and climbing wall complexities. Some short-walled climbing gyms only offer bouldering, while bigger facilities offer various athletic amenities, including weight rooms, child-care, and snack bars.

Other climbing options for beginners include outdoor spaces such as climbing walls, pinnacles, etc. However, while you may have a great time climbing outdoor surfaces, they aren’t as convenient as indoor climbing facilities. For instance, you can’t use them in bad weather, so most climbers prefer gym climbing.

Types of Indoor Climbing

Types of Indoor Climbing

1) Bouldering

Bouldering is a type of indoor climbing that doesn’t require a harness or a rope. It involves routes that are close to the ground where accidents are less likely to be fatal.

The setting is equipped with a thick bouldering crash pad that protects you if you slip and fall from the wall. Other facilities also employ the services of a spotter, an experienced individual that helps prevent fatal falls while bouldering, i.e., those that may injure your head or neck.

Bouldering is great for beginners since it helps you build your strength and skills. As a beginner, you get to learn how to use your strength to make progress and balance your weight to avoid falling.

Novices appreciate this climb because of its simplicity and skilled climbers because it presents a more significant challenge in more complex routes.

2) Top-rope climbing

Top-rope climbing is excellent for novices looking to try harness-and-rope climbing. In top-rope climbing, the climber wears a harness, and one end of a rope is attached to one side.

The other end is then passed through an overhead anchor and secured on the other end by a belayer. The belayer’s job is to ensure that you do not fall if you lose your grip mid-climb.

The belayer could be a qualified staff member, your friend (if they have belay certification), or an auto-belay device. Their job is pretty similar: they are supposed to monitor your progress and provide you with enough slack, ensuring that you do your climb semi-independently.

Belayers need to watch out in case you slip so that they can tighten the rope to slow or stop your fall. Auto-belayers work similarly, with the significant difference being that you don’t need to have your friend watch out for you.

Indoor Climbing

3) Lead climbing

Lead climbing indoors is quite similar to sport climbing outdoors. The only difference is that when climbing indoors, you’ll find the quickdraws already set in place.

This is the next frontier after raking enough skill top-rope climbing. It is exhilarating, challenging, and pushes you to use all the skill and strength you’ve accumulated.

However, like top-rope climbing, you’ll still have a belayer to protect you from dangerous falls. Speaking of falls, lead climbing is a bit more challenging since your falls (if you miss the subsequent quickdraw) will be harder than those you’ll experience top-rope climbing.

Tips for indoor lead climbing

  • Ensure that you have proper training (for climbers and belayers).
  • Only climb with the help of a trusted and skilled belayer.
  • Consider the consequences of a fall. Understand that regardless of how many safeguards you put in place, there are chances that any fall (however minor) could be fatal.
  • Ensure that you have the proper gear for the climb and that it’s adequately fixed to avoid any accidents.
  • Don’t take on any unnecessary challenges, especially if you are a beginner. Take your time, start small, and gauge your progress.

Tips for First-Time Climbers

  • If you are a first-time climber, it would be good to be aware of the primary reason you got into climbing. Understand that climbing is all about overcoming challenges, enjoying the process, and celebrating each successful win.
  • Keep in mind that your legs are stronger than your arms. They have bigger muscles and are used to more extended periods of intense physical activity. Thus, it would be good to work on improving leg placement and your feet’ friction.
  • Take some time to reflect and find out why you chose climbing. It could be because you want to conquer your fear of heights; it’s just a hobby or a relaxation technique. Regardless, understanding why you do what you do often bring about greater fulfillment.
  • Do your research and watch more experienced climbers. If you are starting, then the experience may seem daunting; however, you could learn and make better progress by watching more experienced climbers. Please understand that you won’t be able to replicate their techniques instantaneously, but you’ll be ahead of the others after doing some practice.
  • Choose a good partner, mentor, and friend that’ll help guide you through your journey. This is a significant decision since they’ll provide you with insights and actionable advice that’ll help you hone your skills.
Indoor (Gym) Climbing Basics

Route Difficulty in Gyms

The Yosemite rating system is used in gyms and outdoors to rate route difficulty. For instance, footholds and handholds are the biggest, with a range of 5.0 to 5.5. Where you choose to begin depends on how comfortable you are and your natural ability. However, most rookies start from between 5.3 and 5.5.

Ratings for boulders follow the V-scale. VB represents boulders with a beginner’s difficulty. The difficulty level then increases from V0 through to V16. Most facilities use terms like recreational to refer to beginner routes.

Clothing and Gear for Gym Climbing

Clothes

Wear comfortable clothes that allow unrestricted movement. For instance, you could try wearing loose fits that aren’t too baggy. Remember, you don’t want your clothes getting caught in gears or on holds.

Secondly, please wear clothes for indoor climbing that you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. Your clothes should also wear clothes made with rigid materials that withstand abrasion from climbing holds and rough walls.

Gear

You don’t have to buy your gear from the onset if you are into indoor climbing. There are two reasons for this: you won’t have the slightest clue which gear to buy given the fact that there are numerous brand qualities.

Plus, the gear is a bit costly, and you’d want to buy it when you feel comfortable enough to invest in climbing.

Almost all indoor climbing facilities rent out their climbing gear to their members. You could keep using this equipment until you are ready to buy some of your own. Eventually, you could buy:

A harness

A climbing harness is the most versatile piece of equipment in outdoor and indoor climbing.

Choosing the best and most reliable harness will take you a long way. This is why you need to take your time to research before buying your harness.

Gym and Indoor Rock Climbing Basics

Locking carabiner

Your locking carabiner is essential for attaching the belay device to the harness.

It is a crucial part of your safety, which is why it would also be good if you also took your time to ensure you got the best climbing carabiner available.

Chalk plus a chalk bag

You’ll have understood by now how vital chalk is for your climbs, especially for overly sweaty climbers. If you sweat a lot or struggle to maintain your grip, then you could try climbing chalk to prevent sleeping.

You could read our article and discover some of the best liquid climbing chalks and chalk bags available.

Rock climbing shoes

Rock climbers need rock climbing shoes specifically designed to fit their needs and make their climbs easier.

The shoes should fit snugly, have grippy soles, be durable, and be comfortable enough. Take your time to read our gym shoe reviews and talk to a sales specialist that could help you find the right shoes.

Climbing ropes

Many gyms provide climbing ropes, while others recommend that you buy your own. If you want to purchase your climbing rope, it could be good to ensure that it is durable and perfectly fits your needs.

Kids in Climbing Gyms

Gym Climbing Basics

Kids love to climb and stay active, and most climbing gyms have programs and classes for children as young as six. You could take your child for training and after they’ve learned what to do, take them for family climbing activities.

Climbing is excellent for a child’s development since it helps boost their endurance, strength, physical skills, plus their cognitive and problem-solving skills.

Climbing could also be an excellent idea for children who aren’t particularly interested in team sports.

Climbing competitions

If you are interested in climbing competitions, you could ask your local climbing gym if they host climbing competitions.

You could also inquire if your gym hosts regional or even professional tournaments that you could spectate or take part in.

Other Places to Climb

Climbing at home

If you want to have more practice or want convenient climbing sessions, then you could consider purchasing your very own home training hangboard

You could also build your very own climbing holds and climbing wall to train on at your convenience.

Climbing in the outdoors

Outdoor climbing is very different from indoor climbing. Usually, it’s riskier, and there’ll be higher chances for fatal injuries. 

Thus, it would be good to ensure that you have the best training and equipment before trying any outdoor climbing activities.

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About the author 

Roger

Roger was born into a family of climbers. As the youngest of his siblings, he was also the most ardent climber of them. Small and agile, he practiced climbing all day. Today, Roger teaches children how to climb the large rock walls safely.

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