Climbing in the gym

Doug Williams

Probably the best way to begin rock climbing would be to go to a gym which has a climbing wall installed. Here you can learn basic techniques in a controlled environment where it is safe. You do not have to invest in expensive gear before you try the sport out. You can hire gear such as climbing harnesses and rock shoes. If you find you love doing this, you can graduate to a guided climbing day at a cliff outdoors.

Safe place to learn

Climbing at the gym
Climbing at the gym

If you have decided that this is a sport that you are interested in trying out, then make a visit to an indoor climbing gym. The training walls are built especially for you to learn the complicated moves before trying it for real. These walls are dotted with bolted-on foot holds and hand holds, which are different shapes and sizes.

Monitored by experts

Such gyms employs folk who will ensure that you and your climbing partner are informed with the basic knowledge necessary to begin climbing safely. Here you will learn basic skills. You can enroll into an introductory class and then, when you have passed and learned the basics, you can move up to more advanced moves like belaying and lowering.


Climbing wall
Climbing wall

There are many opportunities to learn at these gyms, whether you go for private lessons or climbing clinics. Climbing clinics are where elite and experienced climbers “show you the ropes” and you can watch how these climbers work. This is a great way to pick up tips on how to place your feet and how to grasp the handholds on the walls and how to negotiate the more sophisticated moves.

The weather

The other advantage of indoor climbing is that there is no weather inside, so you can go climbing in good or bad weather, sunny or cold. All you will need to carry are your climbing kit and chalk bag. You can do this all year round while being able to meet experienced climbers and other novices to discuss your new sport. Taking advantage of these indoor walls can also keep you fit and ready to climb at any time, thereby being able to take advantage of the good outdoor climbing weather when it does arrive.


Climbing with ropes
Climbing with ropes

While you are learning to climb you will also be able to meet like-minded people who may end up partnering with you on climbs in the future. Socializing with other climbers exposes you to opportunities for indulging in the sport you have chosen to join. If you have not yet found a regular climbing partner, you may find a climbing buddy this way. Gyms often have boards where you can pin a notice that you are looking for one.

Most gyms also have a bouldering wall where it is possible to practice moves on your own. Taking a class is also a good way to find someone who will partner with you. The next step is to sign up for an outdoor day climb which will be led by one of the instructors.

Special walls

Walls that have been built for climbing at gyms are made from a prefabricated material which looks like real rock. There are several companies who specialize in building these walls. The walls are integrated within the structure of the building to ensure the integrity of the climbing wall. The hand and footholds are made from resin, which is poured into molds and made into different shapes and sizes. These are attached to the wall using long bolts. These holds vary from giant sized buckets to tiny fingertip edges.

They are safe

Climbing gym structure
Climbing gym structure

Do not worry, the wall will not buckle or give way. The walls that have been purpose-built are usually vertical, but some do include overhangs or slabs. The height of indoor walls goes from about 20 to 50 feet. They generally have anchors and bolts for top roping and bolts, with quick-draws for lead climbing. The holds are marked with colored tape to mark out the routes. These are graded into the different moves and the difficulty thereof. Many such gyms will also have lower walls where bouldering and ropeless climbing can be practiced.

The easy routes will have big holds, and the more difficult ones will have smaller holds.

Other activities

Climbing at the gym
Climbing at the gym

You will likely find that most climbing gyms will also be equipped with weight lifting equipment and various features to help strengthen your hands and fingers. You may also find a shop selling the equipment that you will need too.

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fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival