Climbing Advice for Novices

Anyone who is considering taking up climbing will need to learn the basics of the sport, the equipment and locations. The first thing we will look at are routes for rock climbers. Bolted routes are routes, natural or artificial, which have pre-placed bolts that climbers attach their gear. Sport climbers would rather focus on the actual climb rather than affixing the attachment bolts.

Rock climbing basics involve several different levels of completing routes. On sight flash is where the climber has no prior knowledge of the route and completes it without falling or hanging onto the rope (hand-dogging). Flash is where the climber has prior knowledge of the route, and does not fall or hang on the rope.

Redpoint is where the climber has practiced the route many times, and pinkpoint is similar but where all the quick draws are pre-placed.

Climbing Gear Choices

Padded harnesses, streamlined and thin are designed to cushion for falls and provide maximum mobility.

Rock shoes and slippers are designed to be thin to allow the climber to feel small features under their feet.

Quickdraw sets have carabiners (attachment loops). Chalk bag with chalk is for keeping hands dry during a climb. Bolts and bolt hangers are uncommon on new routes, as setting new bolts has caused controversy, as some say it degrades the beauty of natural settings.

Next we will look at places and routes to climb. One inexpensive and safe way to get started is gym climbing. It is climate controlled, pre-bolted and physically gratifying, presenting an opportunity for beginners to learn about climbing, while presenting a challenge for experienced climbers as well. Consider bouldering, which keeps you close to the floor and is great for building skills.

It does not require a belay partner (someone who holds a rope to help keep a climber secure). Climbing packages for those who want to do mountain climbing abound. One popular and inexpensive place is Ton Sai in Thailand.

Sightseeing, superb limestone climbing and hiking are its main attractions. Also consider Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, which features 6 routes, and Aconcagua in Argentina. For the beginner and pro alike, there is equipment and climbing packages for every budget and taste. Be careful of used equipment that may not be safe, but enjoy your sport!