Introducing a Friend To Climbing
If you’re looking for a guide to taking a friend climbing for the first time that will instil a love of climbing in your pal (while keeping your friendship intact), look no further!
1. Start indoors
It should go without saying, really, that if your pal hasn’t climbed before, they’ll probably want to test it out indoors before being stuck onto a rock face. It’s a safer environment for them to make up their mind, and a gentler introduction to the sport, so get them down to an indoor wall.
2. Be patient
You may be able to boulder for a few hours at a stretch or think a certain grade is easy – but don’t forget the big-pump exhaustion of your first ever climbing trip, or the potential uneasiness at being off the floor. Take breaks, and be patient if your pal doesn’t find hanging from their hands off the floor all that natural at first. Remind them there’s no hurry, don’t rush them and don’t be patronising. Definitely don’t utter the words “it’s easy” or “just” – never, ever use the word “just”.
3. Go easy on them
This includes not spraying beta all over them: tell them to ask for help if they’re stuck and they want it. Start them on the easiest grades and see how they feel before progressing. Remember to check in on them regularly, and celebrate their wins!
4. Don’t hold them back
Conversely, if they want to try something harder, and they feel comfortable doing so, don’t hold them back or patronise them. Your uneasiness and lack of faith will show, and will affect their confidence. However, make sure they are aware of falling and have practised jumping off beforehand to avoid injury!
5. Don’t show off
Obviously you’re there for climbing too, but be aware of when, how and what you’re climbing. Avoid showing off on routes they’ve struggled on or just done – or ask them if it’s OK if you do it, or if they want you to show them some beta. We all know how disheartening it can be watching a friend sail up something they know you’re working on.
6. Teach technique
New climbers don’t usually have strength. Finger, arm, core. And technique can go a long way in making moves easier – or practicing 3 points of contact closer to the floor. This can go a long way in comfort levels on the wall.
7. If roped climbing, explain everything on the ground
Try weighting the rope closer to the floor and explain how they will get down before they leave the floor. If the first time they weigh the rope is 20m in the air, they might not have the best time!
8. Teach etiquette - and stick to it yourself
Make sure new climbers know not to climb over or walk under people, teach them how to read routes, and to read people who might be gearing up for a route. Teach courtesy of others, and stick up for them if some regular tries to wall-hog or wall-jump because you’re with someone who’s new.
9. Consider a group climbing night!
Groups are a fun and social way to get into climbing – take your friend down to a group night or womenclimb meet up! Being in a more social environment and potentially with other beginners will make the experience even better!
Basically, be kind, be patient and make sure you both have fun!
Got any tips of your own to share? Leave us a comment below!
If you want to find a supportive group of people, then you can become a Womenclimb Member. We have meets coming up throughout the year around the UK. Our fantastic community includes people at all levels of climbing, so take a look at our events and find your tribe!