Gearing Up for Outdoor Rock Climbing

Rock climbing equipment

If you’ve got the rock climbing bug, it helps to build your technique and experience in stages. Most people begin with introductory classes on gym climbing walls, but quickly graduate to real, live rocks in the wide world outside. For many, this is the real goal of rock climbing, but it comes with a number of factors like weather, unpredictability and other challenges. It’s a good idea to plan your transition, by signing up with a guide or a climbing group to get the hang of things. This is also when you’ll want to gear up and start acquiring your own shoes, helmet, harness, carabiners, and other rock climbing gear.

Making the transition
Some people are happy to continue climbing walls at the gym but for most people, the purpose of the sport of rock climbing is to take it outside. Once you’ve mastered basic rock climbing techniques, it’s time to graduate to the world of living rock and all the challenges it presents. A good way to do this is to find a guide or climbing group it your area, to learn more advanced skills.
Outdoor climbing is different because you will be dealing with the elements, like wind, cold, heat and even rain. You will be climbing with partners on your rope, so the communication signals you learned in introductory classes will be useful. Getting used to wearing a helmet while climbing and learning outdoor rock climbing etiquette will be part of the experience. You will be learning new skills and techniques like setting and cleaning anchors and eventually becoming the lead climber on your rope.

Transition in stages
When making the transition from gym climbing walls to the real world of living rock, it can be a good idea to do it in stages. Bouldering is an easy way to get used to real rock. It’s easier than sheer face climbing, because no ropes or special techniques are needed, and the heights are manageable. Top rope climbing makes you part of a team where you climb towards an anchor at the top of the pitch. You will have an belay, which will give you confidence in case of slips or even falls.
The next stage could be sport climbing, in which beginners have a top rope as well as a rope to clip in to bolts. This kind of mock lead climbing limits the distance in case of fall. Eventually you will progress to lead climbing, where you climb without a top rope. In fact, you will be the top rope, with a longer distance to fall, if that happens.

Gearing up
It’s when you make the transition to outdoor climbing that you need to get your own rock climbing gear. Like other kinds of adventure gear, it can be important to splurge for the best quality, since you and others will be depending on it for safety. You can find basic supplies for rock climbing at a sporting goods store. These will include shoes, helmet, carabiner, helmet, chalk, belay device, and ropes to start with.
Like other kinds of adventure clothing, rock climbing clothes should let you move freely and comfortably without loose hanging bits that can snag. However, once you’re outside, you’ll also need to account for weather, which means bringing along waterproofing. You should also bring along layers to keep you warm once you’ve finished climbing.

Getting your own rock climbing gear is a major step in your commitment to the sport. Once you’ve transitioned to the world of outdoors rock climbing, you’ll be learning new skills and techniques, as well as climbing codes of conduct and etiquette.

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