Rock Climbing for Beginners: Your Ultimate Guide to Starting Out

Rock Climbing for Beginners: Your Ultimate Guide to Starting Out

Welcome to the exhilarating world of rock climbing! If you're reading this, you've probably caught the climbing bug and are eager to embark on this vertical adventure. But, as with any new endeavor, there's a lot to learn. From deciphering climbing jargon to understanding essential gear, it can feel a tad overwhelming. But fear not, dear newbie! We're here to break it all down in a playful, fun, and informative way. Let's get started!

1. Climbing Lingo 101

  • Crimp: Nope, not a hairdo from the '80s. It's a small edge that climbers grip with just their fingertips. Crimps are quite common, which is what inspired this shirt
  • Dyno: Short for "dynamic move," it's a leap or jump from one hold to another. Think of it as the parkour of climbing.
  • Slab: Climbing a rock face that is less than 90 degrees, meaning that it leans away from you. This type of climbing is very friction dependent and technique heavy. 
  • Overhang: Climbing a rock face that is more than 90 degrees, meaning that it is leaning towards you. This type of climbing can be a bit burly and more intense. 
  • Flash: Sadly, not a superhero reference. It means to climb a route successfully on your first attempt without prior knowledge of it.
  • Spot: When you're bouldering, your chances of falling are always there. Getting a spot from a friend means they'll stand up with their arms outstretched to help guide your fall if you do peel off the wall. A spotter is not supposed to catch their partner, rather, support them as they come down so that they land clean and/or don't fall off the pads. 
  • Belay: If you're getting into rope climbing, you'll need to know how to do just this. It's not hard, but it takes a moment to turn it to muscle memory. It's the technique used to control the rope, ensuring the climber doesn't fall too far and most importantly, it's life-saving! 
  • Beta: Not a fish or a software test! It's the advice or information about a climb. See #4 for etiquette surrounding beta. 
MONOPKT - Tips For Better Climbing
Our founder Jackelyn bouldering at Rotary Park in Fort Collins, CO in our Midnight Mountains tank. 

2. Gear Up!

  • Climbing Shoes: These aren't your regular sneakers. They're specially designed with sticky rubber soles to grip onto the rock. There are many different types of shoes and you'll need to try on all of them to get a feel for what's right. Keep in mind your foot shape, pain tolerance, and style of climbing.
  • Chalk and Chalk Bag: Climbers use chalk to keep their hands dry. The chalk bag? Well, that's the stylish pouch it goes in. We really love this one!
  • Climbing Journal: How will you remember all your climbs without it? Log your favorite routes or focus on your workouts with this climbing training version
  • Some Cute Swag: Okay, sorry not sorry – but these climbing pins or stickers are too hard to pass up!

MONOPKT - Tips for Better Climbing
We're a little biased but these are the coolest chalk bags we've ever seen.

If you're rope climbing, you'll also need to consider...

  • Harness: This isn't a fashion statement but a crucial piece of equipment that wraps around your waist and thighs, keeping you attached to the rope. 
  • Belay Device: This nifty gadget helps control the rope while belaying, ensuring the climber's safety.
  • Helmet: You gotta protect that noggin! Especially important when climbing outdoors to shield from falling rocks or debris.
MONOPKT - Tips for Better Climbing
Jackelyn leading Popped Cherries in Moab, Utah. 

3. Types of Climbing

  • Bouldering: Climbing short but challenging routes (called problems) without ropes. But don't worry, there's a thick pad below to catch you!
  • Top Roping: Climbing with the safety of a rope anchored at the top. It's like having a safety net as you climb. This is usually what you'll see in a roped area at a gym. 
  • Lead Climbing: A more advanced form where climbers clip their rope into fixed points on the wall as they ascend. You can learn to lead climb at a gym as this is the next step up from top roping. 
  • Sport Climbing: Climbing a wall that already has pre-placed bolts and an anchor. 
  • Trad Climbing: Short for "traditional." Climbers place their own protective devices into the rock as they climb.
  • Ice Climbing: Using ice axes and crampons to get up frozen walls and waterfalls.  
MONOPKT - Tips for Better Climbing
Our co-founder Nick bouldering The Angler in Joe's Valley, Utah. 

4. Climbing Etiquette

  • Share the Wall: Remember, it's a community space. If someone's waiting, finish your climb and let others have a turn.
  • Look Around and Look Up: It's easy to forget where you are, especially when you're working a problem. Remember that someone could be above you (with a chance of falling) so be mindful to not walk under someone as they are bouldering or step over their rope if they're on a route. 
  • Be Encouraging: A little cheer can go a long way. Encourage fellow climbers, especially when they're attempting a tricky move. Plus, this is an easy way to make friends!
  • Beta... To Spray or Not To Spray?: We know it's really exciting when you've sent a problem! When you see someone else working that same one and you're itching to give advice, please please please ask to see if they want beta before giving it. Oftentimes, people like to problem-solve on their own so be mindful. 

MONOPKT - Tips for Better Climbing
Nick trad climbing Double Crack in Kanab, Utah. 

5. Stay Safe

  • Trust Your Belay Partner: Climbing is a team sport. Communicate with your partner and ensure you're both on the same page.
  • Check Your Gear: Before you start, double-check your harness, knots, and belay device.
  • Listen to Your Body: Feeling fatigued? It's okay to take a break. Common climbing injuries include finger pulleys, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.  Remember, it's about the journey, not just the destination. If you do get injured, then we made this pin with you in mind...

MONOPKT - Tips for Better Climbing

Wrapping Up

So, there you have it, a crash course in climbing for the budding enthusiast! Remember, every climber started as a newbie once. With time, patience, and practice, you'll soon be getting up climbs you once thought impossible. Embrace the challenges, celebrate alllllll of the victories, and most importantly, have fun!

Welcome to the climbing community – we're thrilled to have you.

Happy climbing! 

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