So, you’ve finally decided to get into the gym and take a crack at climbing up a wall. Good for you! Gym climbing is a great way to get familiar with this fun, and addictive sport. But with new challenges usually come lots of questions. Do you want to boulder? Sport climb? Lead? The options are endless. Here are our 5 favorite tips for how to get into indoor climbing with ease. Trust us: it’ll be worth it!
One of the first things you’ll notice in the gym are the ‘5-something’ and ‘V scales’. Likely posted all over the place …. beneath climbs, over them, and pretty much wherever else there’s room for little pieces of paper …. you’ll see 5.-somethings, as well as big letter V’s with various number counterparts.
Every rope climb is rated on a 5.0 to 5.15 scale, both inside and outside. Climbing ratings are largely subjective outside, but in the gym, they’re set to pretty rigorous standards. So if you hop on a 5.10, don’t expect it to be easy! Similarly, bouldering projects are rated from a VB (beginner, easy) to a V10 (ninja-level bouldering ability). This may sound like a whole lot of nonsense now, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly!
Before you set yourself up gear-wise, you’ll need to know what kind of climbing you want to pursue inside. There’s bouldering, sport climbing, and leading. And while they all involve walls, they’re all a bit different. For bouldering, you’ll just need shoes, chalk, and a chalk bag. For sport, you’ll need chalk, a chalk bag, a belay device, a locking carabiner, shoes, a harness, and ropes. For leading, you’ll need all the same gear as for sport. When you lead climb inside, you don’t need quickdraws. Lucky for you, they’ll already be placed up along the wall.
Once you’ve picked your gym, gotten your gear, and acquainted yourself with your surroundings, there’s only one thing left to do: practice patience on the plastic. Nothing will make climbing less fun than getting frustrated with yourself on the wall. After all, we spend most of our lives with our feet tightly bound to earth … it isn’t exactly second nature for a lot of us! And that’s all right. Half the fun of climbing is in the challenge. But it’s important, especially in these early stages, to check your ego at the door go in with an open mind.
All right, it’s time to pick a “project” or route and get climbing. Picking a specific, beginner-level climb is great for early-stage climbers, as it offers an achievable and realistic goal. “Projecting”, a climbing term used to describe the movements, holds, and overall understanding that goes into completing a route, gives us vision, helps encourage technique, and develop strength … all important characteristics of a successful climber at any level.
The word ‘gym’ doesn’t usually bring to mind the act of ‘chilling out.’ But welcome to the world of climbing gyms! In the indoor climbing realm, downtime between climbs isn’t only encouraged, it’s nearly mandatory. Your hands need time to rest between plastic pursuits, and your mind and body deserve time to recover before their next attempt. The gym is also a great place to meet like-minded people! Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation while you’re hanging on the mats or in a chair. The gym is a very social environment, and climbers love a good chat!
Learning to climb is fun, accessible thanks to gyms, and great for your body and mind. Amp up your climbing skills from the inside out by joining a gym, and see just how wonderful climbing inside can be.