Rock climbing is gaining popularity fast. Almost every major city has an indoor climbing gym, and some have half a dozen or more. Beginners are almost always welcome and most gyms are more than happy to help newcomers get into the climbing world get started safely and comfortably. Once you’ve got the basic skills you can go on to climbing real rock outdoors, or you can go straight outside with an instructor. Here are 5 good reasons to give it a try:
1. Challenge yourself. Beginner rock climbing is very safe but also quite scary. Most of us just aren’t used to being up high with nothing more than a single rope and harness for protection. Many people see their first rock climb and think ‘there’s no way I could get up there’. Climbing teaches us that these first self-limiting thoughts are often wrong, and we can do far more than we ever thought possible.
2. Experience some of the most beautiful views in the world. Outdoor climbing will take you to places walking and driving sightseers never get to go. You’ll see birds fly past underneath your feet and view spectacular mountain scenes from a whole new angle. The higher you go, the more you will see.
3. Connect with family members. It takes two to climb. You might be up there on your own but there is always someone on the other end of the rope, keeping you safe and encouraging you higher. A fall might be scary but that rope will catch you- climbing builds trust, and the shared challenge (it’s your partner’s turn next) creates a powerful bond. It’s a great way to build better, mutually respectful relationships with kids. Even the most cynical teenager can’t deny that rock climbing is pretty cool.
4. Enjoy getting fit. Minute for minute, rock climbing burns more calories than jogging. It works the arms, calves, and core muscles of the stomach and back, and helps improve balance and spatial awareness. If a normal gym workout bores you, taking up climbing can bring fun back into your exercise regime.
5. Build self-esteem. Getting to the top of the first route will give you a tremendous sense of achievement. When you start out there will be some routes you can do (most indoor climbing gyms have routes built for children from age 5 up) and some you can’t. Progress is fast. The tougher climbs will become easier and what felt impossibly difficult will come within reach. You’ll try new, harder climbs and learn to conquer them too. The sense of achievement never goes away- in fact, it’s one of the things that makes climbing so addictive.
Jess Spate has been a keen climber for more than a decade. It has taken her from the granite outcrops of Australia to the mountains of the French Alps. She has found inspiration, courage, and friends through climbing, and works for a climbing gear retailer.