Tips from a Pro on How to Start Rock Climbing in the Northwest Interior Outdoor question | Spokane | Interior of the Pacific Northwest


There are two main types of outdoor climbing: Sport climbing consists of climbing on routes with anchors permanently attached. Traditional (traditional) rock climbing involves placing your own anchors on the rock as you climb.

Kelty Godby tells people will often tell him that they are dizzy and could never climb.

His unavoidable answer? “All climbers are afraid of heights, which is why we are alive.”

Godby is the lead guide and owner of Inland Northwest Climbing Outfitters, which he founded in 2019. Over the past few years, Golby says interest in the sport has grown rapidly at the local and national levels.

If you are looking to hit the rocks for the first time, you will need some equipment. Godby says NW Outfitters and REI in Spokane are both great places to look. You will need four main things to get started:

1) Climbing shoes. These should be tight, but not painfully. They can be rented or purchased at most outdoor stores. You can also save money by buying a used pair.

2) A harness. Golby strongly advises against purchasing used harnesses.

3) A chalk bag. (Pro tip: If you climb in the winter, put hand warmers in your chalk bag, your fingers will thank you later.)

4) A helmet. Some mountaineers don’t see helmets as necessary, but Godby says they’ve saved his skull on several occasions.

Outdoor climbing also requires ropes, belay devices, and anchoring gear, but if you are climbing with someone experienced they should already have them and you will only have all four bases.

For beginners, having someone to show you the ropes (pun intended) can be helpful. Godby says a dedicated person with a high risk tolerance can hypothetically piece the basics together from books and YouTube, but there are some things that are best learned from in-person instruction.

The Spokane Mountaineers offer regular outdoor rock climbing lessons. Godby also teaches beginner classes on his property outside of Tumtum. Godby says one of the most important things a beginning climber can do is find a mentor who can push them and keep them motivated on their climbing journey.

Some new climbers learn the basics in indoor climbing halls before heading outdoors. Godby, who learned to climb at the US Army’s Northern Warfare Training Center in Alaska, says indoor training can help, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.

“I tell people that gyms are a great place to work out, but if you’re going to be climbing outside you should get out early and not just stick to the gym because it’s going to get more and more intimidating.” Godby said.

Once outside, there are two types of climbing to choose from. Sport climbing involves climbing on routes with permanently attached anchors that provide protection against falls. Traditional (traditional) rock climbing involves placing your own anchors on the rock as you climb. Traditional rock climbing usually requires more knowledge and experience, so beginners usually start with sport climbing.

Godby generally recommends that beginners explore Sharon Rocks and Q’emiln Rocks, both of which have a number of good sporting and traditional climbs. If you’re looking for something closer to Spokane, Cliff Drive and Minnehaha are popular spots.

The Spokane climbing community is growing rapidly. Godby says climbers in the area were previously more careful with their routes, but in recent years the sport has seen an increase in its popularity and accessibility. There are still a lot of unexplored rocks. Godby says he believes there are more early climbs to climb in the interior northwest than anywhere else in the country.

One of the biggest lessons Godby tries to impart to new climbers is the need to stay humble and aware of potential dangers. About six months later, many new climbers have reached a point where they are starting to feel invincible and overconfident in their abilities, he says.

“When you start to lose your fear, this is when it is time to reflect on yourself and take a step back. Because you are about to be hurt when you start. to lose that fear, ”Godby says.

The climbing world is full of terminology and jargon. It is a good idea to study it. Once you get started, you may find that some of these apply to you:

“Gumby” (adj.) Slang term for a novice climber who is enthusiastic and really excited but doesn’t really know what he is doing. ??