Rock Climbing Basics

Rock Climbing Basics: How To Get Started

Rock climbing basics are important for beginners. With millions of climbers scattered across the world, rock climbing is fast becoming a culture widely accepted in modern-day events.

Right since the foundation of the sports was established in the late 19th century and well cemented in the early 20th century, an incredible wave of approval has greeted the thrilling adventure of rock climbing despite the risks and the unfortunate deaths which have occurred as a result.

The exhilaration and thrill rock climbing brings continued even during the gloomiest periods of human history. A testament to prove that the physically exhausting task is widely accepted.

In April 2020, as the world struggled with the Coronavirus pandemic shock, Chinese explorers began the task of climbing the highest mountain in the world; mountain Everest.

Faced with the threat of avalanches, fast melting glaciers, the sad effect of global warming, and the morbid fear of a virus with no known Cure, these Chinese explorers still undertook the daunting challenge add to the hundreds who have conquered the climb.

Another testament to the great thrills of rock climbing. While several dreams of climbing Everest one day, the rock climbing basics, the heart of becoming an expert in sports, plays a profound role in the success of any climbing, including Everest.

We’ll review rock climbing basics in a detailed and insightful manner in this article.

How To Get Started With Rock Climbing Basics

You can get started and be a rock jock with these four rock climbing basics:

  1. Find a guide
  2. Pick your disciple
  3. Get your required gear
  4. Choose a climbing route

Step 1: Find a Guide

To become a competent rock climber, in whatever form of rock climbing, the first step recommended is to source for an experienced guide

An experienced guide will not just a tutor, but also enlighten you on the various techniques, the use of every equipment and protective gear, and the multiple steps required for you to become an adept climber in the climbing discipline of your choice.

An experienced guide can also be useful in aiding you in your choice of climbing discipline.

An individual afraid of heights most likely will have to try bouldering. At the same time, another, fascinated with the thrill of outdoor climbing, may settle for top-rope climbing or traditional climbing.

Whatever choice of climbing discipline chosen, it is imperative that as your climbing sessions progress, mutual trust is developed between you and the climbing tutor.

This is required because, in specific climbing disciplines, such as top-rope climbing, you have to trust your tutor to do whatever it takes to ensure your safety.

Step 2: Pick Your Discipline

With the various aspect of climbing, beginner climbers must be fully convinced of the climbing discipline they wish to venture into.

A climber who wants to climb mountains or terrains notorious for vertical and inclined cliffs may have to start, with bouldering, before progressing to outdoor climbing.

The purpose of climbing should play a significant role in your choice. If the thrill of climbing excites you, with no plans to scale mountains, feel free to start any climbing discipline, but preferably the easiest. List and explained briefly are the various climbing disciplines.

  • Indoor Climbing: Set on a climbing gym, it features a climbing wall with bolts and woods, an artificial replacement to the cracks and fissures in rocks. Climbers scale these walls with ropes and a belay device.
  • Bouldering: One of the most accessible forms of climbing, bouldering, involves climbing boulder problems that feature artificial rock walls and small rocks. Climbers can climb transversely or vertically without the use of climbing gears. A dense crash pads sit beneath the boulder problems, a clear reassurance that even if you fall, there’ll be no or minimal injury. Only a chalk and climbing shoe is required.
  • Outdoor top-rope climbing involves climbing rock formations with ropes and protective gear, which features a harness and belay device. Two climbers are involved in this climbing discipline. For a beginner seeking to try out outdoor rock climbing, rock formations with gradings suitable for beginners will be used. (Yosemite Decimal System 5.0 – 5.4)

Other climbing disciplines include traditional climbing and outdoor sports climbing. The three highlighted above equips beginner climbing with the required skills to try out these two (traditional climbing and outdoor sports climbing)

Step 3: Get Your Required Gear

Rock Climbing Basics For Beginners Gears
Rock climbing gears are the equipment needed for rock climbing. (Credit: Muhammad Masood/Unsplash)

Based on your choice of climbing discipline, your climbing gear will be picked. Your climbing guide will surely guide you on the climbing gear required for your climbing discipline. Some climbing gears, uniform to all climbing disciplines are

1. Climbing clothing

Rock Climbing Unisex Vintage Blend V-Neck T-Shirt

An essential gear in climbing and climbing clothing should be wicked and easy to dry quickly. Light clothing enables you to breathe, with quick ability to dry sweat, ensures you stay warm.

2. Climbing Shoes

Scarpa Origin Beginner Climbing Shoes

From the sole to the size of climbing shoes, all should play an essential role in your shoes’ choice. A climbing shoe sole should provide the required friction for a firm grip and also be very comfortable. It should be noted that climbing shoes are not suitable for hikes.

3. Climbing helmet

Petzl Boreo Helmet

Required mostly in outdoor climbing, a climbing helmet protects a climber’s head from falling debris and rocks. A good climbing helmet should a tough protective shell and should be comfortable and free.

4. Harness


Required for all forms of climbing except, bouldering, a harness consist of the waist belt and leg loops. The harness should be attached to a climbing rope. The model of harness chosen should depend on the form of climbing.

5. Chalk

Chalk keeps your hands dry, thus preventing sweat. (Credit: Derick Anies/Unsplash)

One major challenge in climbing is the perspiration in your hands, which prevents a firm grip. Chalks serve as the solution to perspiration as it keeps your hand dry.

Chalks should be placed in a pouch attached to your waist belts. In other to lessen environmental concerns, it is advisable to choose chalk that matches the color of the rock you’re set to climb.

6. Carabiners


The climbing rope needs to be attached to your protective gear, such as waist belts and harness. The carabiners, which look like a metal ring with springs, ensure secure attachments.

For beginners, the carabiners used, is often a locking device meant for the belay device.

7. Belay device

Belay Device

Mostly used for outdoor top-rope climbing, a belay device gives the belayer(often your experience guide) control over the ropes. Belay device helps improve friction, and also prevent deadly falls.

The belay device can also help lower the climber. The cables attached to the belay device is reeled in slowly as the climber advances.

For beginner climbers seeking to continue climbing for an extended period, it’s advisable to get a belay device. 

8. Climbing ropes

Perantlb Outdoor Climbing Rope

One of the essential climbing gear, climbing ropes is ubiquitous to all forms of rock climbing discipline except bouldering. The form of climbing discipline to be undertaken plays an integral role in the choice of climbing ropes.

There are dynamic climbing ropes which have elasticity. These ropes can withstand a long fall. Static ropes feature no flexibility, as they are stiff. They are used for rescuing and rappelling. 

Step 4: Choose a Climbing Route

After going about the three steps in rock climbing basics explained above, the next step is to pick your climbing route with the aid of your climbing guide. Different grading systems often grade climbing routes in every discipline of rock climbing.

There is the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS), which stretches from 5.0 to 5.15. 5.0 to 5.6 are often categorized as routes for beginners as they feature large foot holes and hand holes, while 5.6 to 5.10 are rated routes for climbers with intermediate climbing routes.

These routes have little hand holes and foot holes with overhangs and steep planes. 5.11 to 5.15 are the most challenging routes, reserved for experienced climbers. These routes are difficult to climb as they feature vertical cliffs and scary overhangs.

The YDS scale is often used for outdoor rock climbing, but the V scale used with the YDS scale is used for bouldering routes. V scale stretches from V0 to V16, with V0 ranking as the easiest and V16, the hardest. 


With these four steps of rock climbing basics; your climbing guide will further educate you on how well to climb after these steps.

You can also do well to learn the rock climbing lingos and remember, “Safety is your responsibility.”