Never thought about being a rock climber? Try it! Do one thing a day that scares you!
Here are the basics:
- Find a local rock climbing gym. Every rock climbing gym I've ever been to has an introductory class that will teach you the basics and how to stay safe. REI also has beginner outdoors trips to local crags such as Joshua Tree in CA, Patagonia in South America, Rumney Rocks in New Hampshire, and Crescent Rocks in Virginia.
- Grab a friend or a group of friends to go to the gym with. It's best to have even numbers of people so that no one has to sit around and watch while everyone else is climbing or belaying.
- A comfy harness. This is what will connect you to the rope (i.e. your lifeline), so make sure it's a good one. I say comfy because if you are a newbie, chances are you are going to fall and be hanging by said rope quite a bit, so you want something that isn't going to dig into your legs. In the beginning, you can rent a harness from the gym, but don't count on it being comfortable.
- A chalk bag and chalk. Chalk is ESSENTIAL. It dries out the sweat on your hands and helps you grip the holds better. You need the chalk bag to (obviously) hold the chalk.
- Climbing shoes. Do not go out and buy the most expensive shoe you can find. As a beginner, you do not need the $155 high-performance shoe. You can rent a pair of shoes from the climbing gym, but you can usually find a good deal at an outdoors store like REI, EMS, or MEC (if you’re in Canada!). Climbing shoes should be slightly tight since they usually stretch out a bit, but not so tight you can’t walk in them. As you get more experienced at climbing, you learn that tighter = better, but for now, stick with what feels good on your feet.
Not a necessity, but a really good idea is to get a pair of crops for climbing. Women head to the climbing gym in shorts and usually regret that choice once the harness starts to ride up in an uncomfortable place. I like to work out in crops, but pants would be the next best thing.
I wore my Groove Crops for the first time last weekend when we went climbing at Red Rock State Park near Las Vegas, Nevada, and they were amazing. I always wanted to wear them since they’re so great for everything else, but I was afraid to because they’re black. Sure enough, I got chalk all over them, but I was pleasantly surprised to be able to completely dust them off before going to dinner.
Above: Your must haves for a great climb, including our Groove Crops!