Climbing: everything you need to know before going to a climbing gym

If you ever want to see a guy with jaw-dropping jagged forearms, you can go to one of two locations – a pot-opening competition or a rock climbing gym. The second option may result in fewer dill pickles, but more sympathetic people whose preferred method of exercise develops amazing core strength and balance. It’s easy to see why the sport has become so popular in recent years: it combines rigorous training with the ability to feel like the star in its own right. National geography photoshoot, if only for a moment.

Getting involved isn’t as easy as putting on a harness and climbing up the wall like you did once at summer camp. If you’d like to give it a try, we’ve asked experts to share the important things newbies need to know before their first stint.

1. Familiarize yourself with the lingo

As with any sport, there is a whole new set of terms and phrases that you will need to learn if you want to get to grips with the best of them. (Speaking of which: “Chalk up” refers to putting chalk on your hands to help you grip). Be prepared to hear a lot about bouldering, which refers to climbing a boulder without a harness, and belaying, which involves using a rope to ‘spot’ a partner and catch them. he falls – the ultimate demonstration of confidence.

In order to hit any wall in most climbing gyms, you will need to take a Belay Safety Certification course. It’s quick, though, and you’ll get most of that lingo towards the end.

2. Don’t dwell on the notes

Just like in high school math class, tackling a rock wall isn’t just about the grade or difficulty of what you’re looking at. Optimists might want to get into the hard-hitting things, but it’s a good idea to spot something a little easier first. The American Climbing Rating System is based on the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS), which begins with Class 1 (Hiking) through Class 5 (Ultra-Technical Technical Climbing). Class 5 is divided again in difficulties ranging from 5.0 to 5.15.

Trying to climb more difficult grades should be part of your effort to improve, but just focusing on the numbers can ruin the fun for you and your best belay buddies. “Remember, grades are subjective and are there to gauge your progress,” says Margo Hayes, a North Face sponsored pro and the first woman to climb a 5.15 grade route. “You have to celebrate the little victories along the way. “

3. You will need the right equipment

The most important climbing equipment aside from the harness is good footwear. Just like your must-have running sneaker, there are different models for different levels and types of feet. “Climbing shoes are rubber and leather creations,” says rock climber Sasha DiGiulian, who we spoke with at GoPro Mountain Games in conjunction with GMC. “Expert shoes are aggressive, rolled up, very small and snug to your feet. These people really aim to increase the sensitivity of their feet, much like skaters who wear smaller skates or ballerinas. cutting edge. “