How to start climbing
It may seem very straightforward to some people, but knowing how to start climbing is not simple if you don’t know anyone who climbs**. Firstly there are different types of climbing, both indoor and outdoors. Decide which you want to try and that will help you decide the best way to get started.
Here are six ways you can start rock climbing:
1. Just go outdoors to a rock and climb it
This is a very cheap option if you want climb some rocks outdoors, but there is the issue of safety. If you just climb a rock without protection, then you could cause yourself an injury and, even worse, put other people’s lives at risk. Mountain Rescue is staffed purely by volunteers and you could put their lives at risk if they have to come and rescue you. That being said, the great outdoors is for everyone and lots of people go scrambling, without ropes, quite safely every day. There’s no ‘right answer’ – it’s your call**.
Beginner’s courses usually consist of 3 or 4 sessions, running over 3 or 4 weeks. You will learn all the basic aspects of safety related to roped climbing that you need to climb indoors unsupervised. This is taught by trained instructors who have set items to teach you. You will have to evidence your competence before being able to climb at any climbing centre indoors. This will usually consist of demonstraing how to belay and tying your knot correctly, including a stopper knot. A course will cost somewhere in the region of £75-95 for 3-4 sessions, including entry to the centre, kit hire & instruction.
3. Do a Beginner’s Climbing Course at an Outdoor Centre
You can do all sorts of courses at outdoor centres around the UK, from taster days to learning to lead climb outdoors. Plas Y Brenin is the National Mountain Centre. They have a wealth of information and are happy to answer your questions about which of their courses would suit you best. There are many other outdoor centres, though. You can use the AMI (Association of Mountaineering Instructors) website to do a search based on your requirements and location.
There are a multitude of outdoors organisations and independent climbing instructors, who you can hire to help you learn exactly what you feel you need, either for indoor or outdoor climbing. If you have a particular goal, then this option may work well for you. The price of hiring an instructor will be between £120 – £200 per day. You can find instructors in a number of ways. We will soon be publishing a post to give you different ways to find a coach that suits you. Coaching, as opposed to instructing, is about improving your climbing technique.
5. Find someone to teach you
Many people have climbing friends who can teach them to climb. However, be aware that some friends have bad habits. We’ve created a checklist of things that you generally learn on a beginner’s course, so you can check if your friend has taught you the most important things. The only way you’ll really know it’s right is if you check with an instructor or someone experienced. Most instructors in climbing centres will be happy for you to ask them if you’re doing something right (obviously within reason…) – they would much rather you ask than see you injure yourself in their centre.
Don’t know anyone? Use the power of social media to see if your friends know someone who would be able to teach you.
The UK boasts a very large number of climbing and mountaineering clubs. Some of them are listed on our page Women’s Climbing Clubs, but this list is not exhaustive. Some clubs will require you to have a basic knowledge of climbing, including being able to tie in, belay and do the things on our checklist. I am a member of the Karabiner Mountaineering Club and absolutely love it. More of that in future posts!
So what are the sorts of things you might need to learn, as a beginner... check out our next post:
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