Rock Climbing For Beginners

Rock Climbing For Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

Have you always wondered how to begin your journey on rock climbing? You may probably be confused about where to start but we are here to take you through the journey on rock climbing for beginners and hopefully get you hitched to this adventurous sport.

Hanging firmly to a taut rope, at a height, only adventure lovers will dare to venture, is perhaps one of the most exhilarating feelings. This feeling brings the excitement of adrenaline rush with a subtle, thrilling reminder of the danger that exists and your hard will in overcoming them.

This is exactly how rock climbing feels. Many tagged this sport as extreme sports, but for lovers of adventures, extreme is just a way to scare the heartless.

As far back as 12 BC, as revealed by the Chinese paintings, the Chinese had already begun exploring the adventure terrains of steep rocks. Further ahead in history, the Europeans and Americans gladly took up the adventurous tasks of exploring mountains, and rock climbing came in handy, as expected.

Though rock climbing in whatever way it was explored is as old as nature, it was never regarded as a sport until the Europeans’ all inquisitive and evolving minds considered it as such towards the last quarter of the 19th century.

Fast forward to the 21st century; rock climbing exists as not only a sport, but also a recreational activity that has been embraced by millions, especially in America.

The task of rock climbing may be daunting, and yes, it is daunting, but a determined mind and the right knowledge are required to navigate the terrains of steep rock successfully.

In this article, ClimbingApex takes you, yes, our dear reader, on the roller coaster ride on the ultimate guide to rock climbing for beginners. 

Rock Climbing Lingos

In this article on rock climbing for beginners, lots of rock climbing terms will be used; as a newbie in the act, you’ll probably not be familiar with some of such terms.

If indeed you seem familiar with some of such terms, your understanding will most likely lie outside of its relevance in the act of rock climbing.

For enlightenment purposes, below are just a few lingos used in rock climbing. Some may not likely be used in this article, but in the course of your rock climbing lessons, they’ll be used.

Feel free to refer back to this article, to understand these terms.

  • Anchor: A fixed point of attachment in a climbing rope, fixed with slings, runners, or bolts.
  • Belay: A device fixed around a rock, which provides friction for the rope and locks itself to help climbers support each other weight, should one fall.
  • Beta: references a step by step.climbing technique from a climbing manual or an experienced climber.
  • Cam: a spring device tailored to fit into cracks in rocks to support and secure a part of a climber’s rope to the wall.
  • Carabiner: A spring metal which connects a climber to his protection.
  • Crimp: A horizontal surface on the rock provides enough space for a climber’s finger to be inserted and mount enough pressure to push forward.
  • Crux: The most challenging part of a rock, usually the first part.
  • Gaston: A technique in climbing where a climber’s find gets forms a fist.
  • Heel hook: Often used in overhead rock climbing. It involves a climber’s heel being placed around a rock.
  • Harness: A device used in connecting a climber to the climbing rope. It consists of belts and leg loops.
  • Jug: Every climber’s favorite spot on a rock. It refers to an easy formation on a rock when a climber can comfortably grip.
  • Pitch: Measurement of a climber’s based on the length of the climbing rope. Usually between 30 feet to 1000 feet.
  • Pocket: A hole in a rock, which affords space for a finger or two.
  • Protection: refers to an array of devices necessary for preventing a climber from falling a great distance. It includes bolts, nylon webbings, cams, and others.
  • Rack: The required tools and devices needed for a climb
  • Rappel: the very action of dropping down a cliff, by mounting the leg against the rock, while holding on to a fixed rope.
  • Rope: the climbing rope, which consists of the sheath and core. The sheath is required for a comfortable grip while the core is responsible for the rope strength.

Types of Rock Climbing

The term rock climbing may seem basic, but it covers a wide array of various climbing activities. As a prospective rock climber, it’s necessary to know these activities to choose your focus.

1. Indoor Gym Climbing

Rock Climbing For Beginners
Indoor gym climbing is where every beginners should start his/her journey from. (Credit: yns plt/Unsplash)

This is highly recommended in rock climbing for beginners. In indoor Gym Climbing, the steeps, peaks, and terrains of rock are replicated. For a climber seeking to develop his vertical climbing skills fully, indoor Gym Climbing is the first stage.

By means of color holds, differentiated to sort out the difficulty in each terrain. Most often, a sign is attached to each colored plastic, which indicates the name and grade.

Trying out indoor climbing is fun as you get the tutoring of experienced rock climbers and the gears needed to achieve the feat in real life. If the idea of climbing in a gym doesn’t appeal to you, but yet, you’re interested in indoor climbing, there exist several recreational centers and colleges with indoor facilities.

The very basic of rock climbing begins in indoor rock climbing. Here are a few tips to help you in your indoor rock climbing session, which can be extended to other rock climbing forms.

  • I. In navigating the terrains, depend more on your legs, because they are mobile and more reliable than your hands.
  • II. Friction in your feet is essential in balancing.
  • III. Before you climb, closely watch the seasoned rock climbers and how they expertly navigate the terrain. Feel free to ask questions.
  • IV. Always be aware of the choices you made when climbing. Listen to recommendations from experts.
  • V. Ensure your body stays close to the wall for you to have a balanced center of gravity. Do not place your knee against the wall.
  • VI. Be fluid like in your movement. Remember, limb moves before your body.
  • VII. Remember your motive as a beginner in rock climbing. It is to successfully overcome each steep peak and other challenges rather than reach the top.

2. Bouldering

An aspect of rock climbing requires little gears. Rather than going through the rudiments basics of indoor rock climbing, some prefer to start directly at bouldering.

Most beginner climbers prefer bouldering as it affords them the same action outdoor rock climbing involves, but this time, only with more safety measures and artificial problems. “Problems” can be as high as 20 feet, and the difficulty of boulder problems varies.

In North America, the difficulty of these problems is graded with a V scale, ranging from V0 to V16, V0 is ranked as the easiest while V16 as the most difficult.

The thrill in bouldering involves the climb, where climbers are positioned parallel to the ground. Crash pads are placed directly under parallel boulders. For climbers seeking to try out this, note the tips in indoor Gym Climbing.

3. Top-Rope Climbing

Best enjoyed outdoors, this type of rock climbing involves two climbers. One climber often referred to as the belayer anchors the rope at the rock and ensures the rope remains tight while the other climbs.

A solid anchor point and a taut rope are essential in top-rope climbing, preventing great distance fall. It is crucial to choose an experienced climber who you trust with your life to be your belayer in top-rope climbing. Emphasis on wisely choosing your belayer is made because your belayer is your lifeline. 

Below are the necessary steps involved in top-rope climbing.

  • 1. A knot is made, which looks like a figure 8. This knot will be tied into the harness by the climber. On the other end of the rope, a knot is made, which prevents your rope form loosely passing through the belay.
  • II. To ensure even weight distribution, if the climber weighs more than the belayer, a ground anchor should also be included. On rock terrains, which are far from average, a ground anchor is recommended.
  • III. This step is essential for the belayer. A loop of rope or a bight should be tubed to the belay device closet to your dominant hand. The side of the bight, which trails to the anchor to the climber, should be at the belay’s top side.
  • IV. Ensure the carabiner pass through the belay cable, bight, and harness loop.

4. Advanced Climbing

This is reserved only for those who have expertly honed their climbing craft. There are two types of advanced climbing. 

I. Outdoor Sport climbing

Experienced climbers climb rocks filled with bolts. Without worrying about the burden of a harness or gears, climbers are concerned about attaching their quickdraws to the bolts. Movement of cragsmen is the core focus of this sort of climbing.

II. Traditional Climbing

This is the sort of climbing, adventurous people love. In this climbing, the luxury of bolts is replaced with rock fissures for attachment of protection before ascension begins. 

After undergoing the necessary training in Rock climbing, eager climbers have their eyes on outdoor rock climbing thrills. The very first step in outdoor rock climbing is your climbing choice spot.

Various scales indicate the level of difficulties that have been established to choose a spot that adequately matches your experience.

They are reviewed below.

1. Yosemite Decimal System (YDS): Popular in the United States, our focus on the YDS scale is 5.0 – 5.15 scale, which classifies the difficulty of climbing terrains.

5.0 – 5.4: Great for beginners as they filled with large footholes and handholes. Very easy to climb.

5.5 – 5.8: Filled with small foot and hand holes. Range from angled vertical surfaces. Intermediate climbing skill is necessary.

5.9 – 5.10: Steeps with overhangs. Excellent climbing skills required, regarded as hard on the YDS scale.

5.11 – 5.12: Vertical surface with steep overhangs. Regarded as very difficult on the YDS scale. Suitable for veteran rock climbers.

5.13 – 5.14: Equipped with small holes and overhangs. Very difficult, reserved for expert climbers.

2. V Scale: The name of this scale is attributed to John “Vermin” Sherman, who ranked Bouldering routes in Hueco Tanks bouldering, with his fellow climbers. The scale ranges from V0 to V16, with 0 being the easiest while 16 ranks as the most difficult.

The route relates well to the YDS scale. V0 to V8 can be said to be VB, which translates to Beginners. Majorly used on Bouldering routes, the “-” and “+” appendages are attached to differentiate their difficulty level further.

Rock Climbing Equipment/Gear

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

As your skills develop, so will your understanding of these gears/equipment. To start your rock climbing experience, whether indoor or outdoor, here are the essential equipment needed.

1. Chalk

2. Belay Device

3. Harness

4. Screw-Lock Carabiner

5. Helmet

6. Climbing shoes.

7. Crashpads

8. Taut rope.


Rock climbing might seem difficult and scary for beginners but when you are able to reach areas that seem impossible you will know its worth it.

Please let us know your thoughts on rock climbing for beginners in the comments section below.