Rock Climbing 101

My last trip to Moab marked half-year anniversary of my relationship with climbing [just realised]. I also took another step in my career, which is signing up for membership in a climbing gym. So I finally decided to write those two coming posts. (Yeah, gotta say I’ve thought about it good few times before, but I think I wasn’t ready).

What I see is very common with people who want to start climbing is struggle, mostly, with fear [I’m not talking here about aliens, like myself, who aren’t really concerned about danger around them]; or/and aren’t sure what to expect.

So my main reasons for writing this particular post are to introduce rock climbing a tiny bit, to make it a little less mysterious, and to incourage you to give that wonderful sport a shot.

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At the very beginning, I want to put up little CLIMBING DICTIONARY for everyone who’s new or not (yet) familiar with some of climbing vocabulary, I’m going to use in this post.

ANCHORS– a point used for attaching the rope (for the top rope for example)
ATC– ‘Air Traffic Controler’ (I was told there’s a joke hidden in that one, which I didn’t get, of course), it’s a common term for a (tubular) belay device
BELAY– protecting a climber from falling, by using a rope
BELAYER– person who makes sure, the climber won’t kill/harm him/herself falling
BOLTS– permanently installed points of protection
FREE-SOLO- type of climbing, without a protection of the rope
FIXED ROPE- a rope that has a fixed attachment point
LEAD CLIMBING– way of climbing, when climber clips the rope into bolts, attached to the wall; in that case, when falling, climber will fall couple feet to the last bolt
MULTI-PITCH– it’s a climb that has few parts, that are longer than one single rope
QUICKDRAWS– used for attaching rope into the bolts
RAPPEL– descending the wall, by lowering oneself on a fixed rope, usually using a belay device
SPORT CLIMBING– climbing while using for protection bolts, that are pre-placed on the wall
TOP ROPE– to belay from an anchor above the climb (the safest way to climb, because in case of ‘falling’, rope keeps you on the same height)
TRAD– traditional climbing; type of climbing, where the climber needs to place bolts and other gear himself

So, like I mentioned before, I started climbing around half a year ago, which means I am still a newbie and I still remember all emotions and struggles that accompanied the start of that adventure.

But during that time I had a lot of possibilities to talk with a lot of people- climbers, non-climbers or aspiring climbers. What I realised is that there’s a pattern in all of those three groups:

  • All climbers are totally in love with the sport and if they don’t do this very often, or had longer break, they seem to be anxious to get back on a wall, as fast as possible. 
  • Aspiring climbers, like probably every time when we try something new, are excited and a little (or more) scared at the same time. Good for them!
  • In 99% of conversations, non-climbers say: “wow, that sounds scary” or “I wouldn’t be able to do this”. 

Hell yeah, it’s scary.
That’s why we’re doing it, that’s how adrenaline works.
Think about all those situations when you were about to get on a cool roller-coaster, or took a first ride on your skis down the slope, or was standing on the top of the cliff looking down on the sea waves, hitting sharp rocks. Do you remember how excited you were? How your heart speeded up a beat?
We all love it.
We’re all addicted to adrenaline, some a little more, some a little less.

And this is also why we climb. If you’re not afraid of climbing on the top rope anymore, you move further. You start leading, you start trad climbing, multi-pitching. Some of crazier ones start free-soloing (yeah, I do admire them).


The truth is, there is not much to be afraid of at the beginning, because you climb on a top rope (see dictionary), so you’ll never actually ‘fall’, because rope will keep you on the same height, it may only swing you a little bit.
Unless you’re afraid of heights, but you can fight that one.
Just don’t look down ;p
I climb with one amazing lady, who is afraid of heights and did some 100ft rappels with us!

Every fear is there to be conquered. But only if you want to. 

“The fears we don’t face, become our limits” ~Robin Sharma

I've seen once awesome picture in the internet:
"F.E.A.R. has two meanings-

Forget Everything And Run 
OR
Face Everything And Rise

The choice is yours."

I think it's really inspiring. 

Those are the struggles, what about emotions?

In this one I can only speak for myself, because unfortunetelly I don’t read people’s minds, no matter how much I’d like to.

Climbing brings pride. Freedom. Everytime you get on the wall, it’s only you and a hard rock in front of you. Hand after hand, foot after foot. The higher you go, the more you conquer. More of your fears, of your struggles. Of yourself.
And by the time you get to the top? You can everything.

Plus, climbing is also amazing social event!!!


So what are you waiting for??!

Oh yes, there’s one more question. How do I start?

The truth is rock climbing is a partner sport (unless you want to boulder, which you can do by yourself, but I personally don’t enjoy it as much), so you need a friend.

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You may ask- but what if I don’t have any friends who climb?

There’s always a way, first step is usually finding a climbing gym, go boulder few times, connect with people, maybe sign up for their climbing courses?

Other option is MeetUp. I personally think there are creepy people sometimes, but it’s perfect way to connect with other climbers.

Those are my ideas.

Feel free to comment or email me if you have any questions or concerns, that I didn’t answer.

Thanks for reading!
Klaudia.

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