If you’re looking for a sport which provides an overdose of fun, fitness, and brain strength, you must learn how to rock climb. Since it involves the usage of muscles in your legs and arms to pull the rock climbers up, rock climbing takes extreme control and strength.
As for the mental strength, it is the brain which gives the rock climber the instinct to placing the hands and feet at that point where the muscles can do their job. Thus, by testing the mental strength, fitness, balance, and endurance of the climber, rock climbing is a sport where the survival of the fittest strategy prevails.
What makes Rock Climbing different?
In stark contrast to the popular opinion, rock climbing is a different sport than canyoneering, intense hiking, and even mountaineering. For example, in hiking and mountaineering, the person involved is mostly going up at slopes of 70degrees.
As for canyoneering, it involves traversing through streams and rivers to go from point A to B. However, when it comes to rock climbing, you’re expected to go at an angle of 90*. In extreme cases, there comes a time when the climber has to climb inverted – i.e. at an angle great than 90.
Moreover, with no pick axes, no walking sticks, and no ladders coming for your help, it is just you, your hands, and your feet assisting your climb up and over the rock.
Thus, if you really want to learn how to rock climb, give yourself an overdose of motivation as you’ll require it through your journey.
How to Rock Climb
Now that you’ve learned the “elements” which rock climbing demand of you, let’s go forward and fulfill your dream.
Step 1: First of all, safely learn the Necessary Skills
If you were thinking that one day you would go out there and start climbing an actual rock, pardon me for bursting your bubble. Nobody, not even the best climbers, went that way. Hence, before trying your hands on an actual rock, search for a bouldering gym nearby you. Why? There are many reasons.
First of all, in good bouldering gyms, you would find staff ready to help for a meager price. Moreover, they also offer classes to teach you the basics.
Secondly, the bouldering routes are short alternatives of rock climbing. Without requiring to put any ropes or harnesses, you could build your skills easily and safely. In short, if you want to learn the basics of rock climbing – while having fun doing that, I would recommend heading to a bouldering gym. It might take time, but believe me, it would be worth it in the long run.
Step 2: Get a Chalk Bag and a Pair of Comfortable Shoes
While climbing, it is imperative that the climber knows where the precise edges of rocks lie. For, these edges are the areas which he/she should target as the staying point. While you might argue that your eyes will do the job, rock climbers are of the opinion that your feet would do a better job.
Thus, to make sure the sensitivity of your feet remain intact, get a pair of snug shoes. Yes, they might feel uncomfortable at the start, however, with practice, you would get used to the shoes.
As for chalk hands, they are not necessary – albeit for professional climbers. However, for a beginner, they’re a MUST HAVE. Since they keep your hands dry, chalk bags are imperative for holding onto the rock when your body gets tired. So, before starting your journey, dip your hands in the chalk bag and clap them. Make sure that the chalk dust is on your hands.
Step 3: Use your legs, not your arms for pulling up
Talking about rules of good climbing here is the number one: always try to use your legs for pulling your body up. Yes, as human beings, we have an inherent voice which tells us that fingers, since they get firmly locked, should be used to climb. However, while fingers lock firmly onto the target, they also tire easily. In contrast, our legs are made up of muscles which take some time before getting tired out.
If you feel that your legs are not up to this task, here are some tips to fortify them:
- Always extend your arms fully. In this way, you would be shifting your weight to the lower part of your body. Similarly, when needed, bend your knees for getting power.
- Before you move your hands, set your feet. For this purpose, solid footholds – on which you can put weight, are recommended.
- Try to shift your weight from your hands to your toes. For this purpose, you need to incline your heels at a lower position than your toes.
Step 4: In your mind, planning your moves in advance is recommended
Before you move a step up, make a mental picture of your next step. For example, if you think that the next step requires over-extension of your hands – a move which could beleaguer your balance, don’t do it. Instead, move your left foot to a higher position. In this way, you would elongate your left side as a result of which the reach would be made easier.
Step 5: Find resting points
Even the most difficult of routes have one to two spots where you can rest and take a deep breath. Use them. There is no hurry, not unless you’re looking to include your name in the Guinness.
You might ask a question: what is a resting point? As you might guess, resting points hundreds of meters above the ground aren’t the same as on it. So, a good resting point is one where you can stand – with most of your weight perched on your feet. Ideally, on a resting point, you should extend one of your arms, while holding the wall with the other on.
Finally, before moving on, plan your next moves on the resting points. This will save you the time which you would spend otherwise planning moves midway through the journey.
Step 6: Move purposely up the wall
- After bending your knees, set your feet.
- Shift the body weight from the point where you’re to the direction in which you’re going.
- First, put up a foot at the new spot where you’re headed. Next, grab it with the matching hand.
- Again, set your feet and this time the opposite hand.
Step 7: It takes time
Since it takes the time to be a man, it also takes the time to build your climbing muscles. There is a very good chance that after 1-2 runs, your fingers would be numb and your forearms would be sore. Remember, every climber, at the start of his/her career, experiences this feeling. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Rather, climb 2-3 different routes a week. In this way, you could leave behind the feeling of numbness and concentrate on your climbing techniques.
For a person who knows how to rock climb, I could testify that it isn’t easy. However, provided that you have the perseverance and agility, there is no reason why you couldn’t do it.