Rock Climbing: Getting Started
Daniel Wade (Rock Climbing Manager) gives expert video advice on: Why is rock climbing so popular?; How much does rock climbing cost?; What are the different types of rock climbing? and more...
Why is rock climbing so popular?
I think rock climbing is popular because there is a segment of the sport that has become a lot like surfing, snowboarding, or skateboarding. It also attaches with it an amazing pop culture appeal. There are many amazing athletes that you see on the covers of sports magazines doing stuff like rock climbing and as a result, rock climbing has become more and more popular. Rock climbing is also extremely accessible. You can have a really good time with a pretty limited amount of equipment and some motivation. There is also a lot of competition in the outdoor industry related with rock climbing, which adds to its popular image. Rock climbing is a challenging sport that involves alot of motivation, dedication, and perserverance and I think that is why rock climbing is so popular and appealing.
How much does rock climbing cost?
Rock climbing can vary in cost depending on what kind of climbing you want to do. Bouldering doesn't take very much money; all it takes is a pair of shoes and a pad. Sport climbing is going to take a little more technical equipment, traditional climbing is going to take a lot more equipment, so you could get started in different kinds of climbing anywhere from 200 bucks to thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Totally depends on how you want to pursue climbing.
What are the different types of rock climbing?
Different types of rock climbing are: bouldering, sport climbing, traditional climbing, mountaineering, alpine, and ice climbing. Bouldering is the most basic. It usually involves very short sequences of hard climbing. It's pretty low to the ground. It's probably the easiest to do with a limited amount of time. It's very popular in urban areas. Sport climbing involves climbing on rocks that are bolted, which means that you're clipping pieces of protection, but you don't have to be placing the pieces of protection in the rock, so it's still a quick, easy way to climb. Traditional climbing includes placing all of your own gear into the rock, building all of your own anchors from scratch, so it's definitely more time consuming, and requires more skill. And then there's mountaineering, which includes ice and alpine, and all kinds of skills that you're using in the higher mountains in the more wilderness areas.
What body type is best-suited for rock climbing?
I think the best body type is no particular body type, however, probably the leaner the better. It's all about balance and movement, and if you can move fluidly, it may not matter what kind of body type you have. I climb with people with all different kinds of body types. But if I had to stereotype a rock climbing body, it's probably long arms and long legs and lean.
How dangerous is rock climbing?
Rock climbing can be very dangerous, however as long as you don't get yourself in a situation where you're out of your comfort zone, it can be very safe.
Can I overcome my fear of falling off the rock?
Overcoming the fear of falling off the rock has a lot to do with your personal confidence in yourself, and how comfortable you are moving on the rock. It is also about trusting the protection systems, and as long as you have taken precautions necessary you may fall, but it isn't going to be all the way to the ground.
Is rock climbing good exercise?
Rock climbing is excellent exercise. Especially if you get into a regime of going to the gym or bouldering on a regular basis it can be very good exercise. There are top quality climbers in excellent physical shape and all they do for exercise is rock climbing. For example, Chris Sharma who's probably the greatest sport climber in the United States at this point, in a recent interview I saw, he said that all he does to stay in shape is rock climb. He doesn't train in any other way. So yes if you do it regularly it can be excellent.
What sort of injuries can I expect from rock climbing?
The most basic injuries you'll get from rock climbing: calluses on your fingers, you can get cuts and scrapes and bruises, especially if you lead climb you'll probably be falling and you're not always falling in the most ideal situations. So you can get banged around a bit. If you take a very nasty fall or you land on a ledge or you have a poor blayer who drops you, you could expect a broken ankle or a broken leg, but I've never personally seen any of that happen because I've put myself in situations with other competent climbers. The worst fall I've seen from someone I wasn't climbing with, at Tockeath's Rock someone on a multipitch climb decked on a ledge and broke their leg. It can be bad, but like I said, if you know what you're doing you can mitigate it.
Should I start climbing at an indoor gym or outside on real rock?
My personal opinion is that beginning climbers should get some experience outside with real rock. As long as they're with people who know what they're doing, or if they're bouldering, which is a relatively benign form of climbing. I'm not a big gym climber myself. I have climbed in the gym but I don't make a habit of it because I feel that it's a different type of climbing and a lot of people I know get stuck in the gym. So I do believe that feeling real rock and understanding how grading systems work outside is a lot different than in the gym. However, the gym is an easy, safe place to go if you don't have anyone to take you outside because there's trainable layers and the anchors are pre-built and the holds aren't going to break. So gym climbing is safe but I do think outside experience is invaluable.
Who is the best rock climber in the world?
The best rock climber in the world, that's a hard thing to say. It depends on what style of climbing you are looking at. I have very great respect for the Alpine climbers, the guys who are doing hard technical routes on big mountains. So in that sense, the guys leading the way are Steve House. Mark Twight sort of invented light and fast Alpinism. Reinhold Messner was one of the greats back in the day for that style of climbing. In terms of popular culture climbing, I think Chris Sharma definitely has the recognition of being best sport climber. He's climbing a 5 15 which is basically unheard of for most climbers. There are lots of climbers for different styles. It depends on what you're after.
Where are the best rock climbing spots?
There are great rock climbing areas all over the world. I'm from the Western United States, so here we're very blessed with Joshua Tree, California. The Sierra-Nevada mountain range here in California has world-class alpine climbing. Tockheed's Rock, which is actually where the Yosemite Decimal System was first used. Yosemite Valley, California: climbers come from all over the world. Whenever I'm there I meet climbers from France, Spain, and Germany and many other places. There's world-class climbing in Alaska, South American Mountains (Patagonia, specifically) the Himalayas in Asia. A lot of alpine climbing was actually born in Shamanee, France and in the Alps. So people can find climbing in a lot of different places.
Do I need a guide for my first time rock climbing?
A guide is a great way to get started in rock climbing if you don't have anyone else to teach you how. There are actually really good local guide services probably everywhere in the United States. Where you can take a class for under $100 and have somebody set up the anchors for you and shows you the basic movement on rock. It depends. Some people look at guide services as instructional and some look at taking guide services out, either because they can't or don't want to learn the skills to do it themselves. There are different levels of classes. You can hire a guide to just go out and climb outside. You're not going to learn anything. You're just going to climb and relax. Or you can hire a guide to actually learn skills. Yes, so I think guiding is a noble profession. The guys really know what they are doing.
How much do rock climbing guides cost?
Guides can cost from anywhere from 100 bucks to thousands of dollars depending on what style of climbing. If you hire a guide to take you out to a local crag and learn basic rope skills and, you know, do a day of climbing, it's going to be probably 100 dollars. If you hire a guy, you know, to take you up Mt Everest, it's going to cost you 70, 000 dollars. So it totally depends on if you are looking at it from, a basic point of view or if you going on an expedition. Skills classes are probably going to cost more than just a day of climbing because the guys at that point of time are probably more engaged. There is going to be a lot more equipment used at that point.