Introduction to climbing for beginners

Introduction to climbing for beginners

Welcome to the beginners section. This is an overview of the many different aspects and styles of modern day climbing, but without all the complex jargon that so often accompanies it.

The first recorded 'climb' was up Napes Needle in the Lake District by Haskett-Smith in 1886. Today the term 'climbing' describes a sport which is becoming more diverse and more accessible that ever before. No longer do you have to live close to a mountain pass or crag to be able to simply go climbing. Climbing walls are springing up everywhere and they have encouraged enabled the sport of climbing to become increasingly more popular.

There are now so many different styles of climbing, with a multitude of techniques to go with them, ranging from a family day out at the local wall with a friendly instructor, to speed climbing a 3500ft vertical wall in Yosemite National Park, USA. In the same way that a runner may be a 100m sprinter or a multi-day ultra runner, there are different types of climber. Some climbers may climb with no rope on a 10 foot wall and others may choose to tackle Everest or K2. The difference between the two is very profound.

Unlike many other sports, climbing has many principles but very few rules. Freedom, is one of climbing's greatest attractions, but with this comes a high level of personal responsibility. There is a significant difference between the risks involved whilst under instruction at a climbing wall compared to a high mountain environment, where inexperience and poor personal judgement carries a much higher price.

You need to master a number of skills to become a competent rock climber, but this all depends on what style of climbing you choose. The 'boulderer' may never need to tie a knot or wear a harness, let alone understand navigation. Here, becoming competent is focused purely on climbing movement and being able to climb a short wall or boulder rarely more than 10 feet high.

On the other hand, the skill and experience needed to climb mountains over 8000m is complex and vastly different and takes a lot longer to master.

In between these two extremes there are a whole host of different styles, techniques, kit and numerous other things to learn about. Throughout the Beginners section we will introduce these to you, together with the basic concepts. Once you have got to grips with these you'll be fully primed and ready to take on the more advanced sections that cover each climbing style highlighted at the top of the page.

  • Trad - Traditional climbing
  • Sport - Sport climbing
  • Boulder - Bouldering
  • DWS - Deep water soloing
Climbing has changed my life and I love it! It could change yours too.

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