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  • Writer's pictureJodi

Beginner Rock Climber

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

Thinking about getting into Rock Climbing? Wondering where to begin?

So maybe you’re feeling like rock climbing is pretty intimidating or way out of reach, but you want to try it and you’re not quite sure where to start.

(me) Jodi rock climbing in Nevada City, CA

Let's climb right up to where you can start.

There are 2 great ways to get into rock climbing.

Rock Climbing Gym.

At a rock climbing gym you can sign up for a class or work one on one with an instructor and be able to rent all the gear you need right from the gym. By going to a gym, you’ll be able to play around on all different skill levels of climbs and with that you will be able to learn what skill level you are at. Knowing which skill level you're at, will help you know where to start when you begin searching for your outdoor climbs. We’ll get more into details on finding out door climbs later on.

Take a Guided Rock Climbing Trip.

With a guided rock climbing trip you’ll be able to start right outside and have a  real rock right in front of you to climb. But by taking a guided trip they’re only going to show you the very basics to get you started on climbing the wall. This is where Rob and I begin.

Our First Time Climbing.

We started with an outdoor guide. Before we ever started rock climbing, I never thought I would want to try rock climbing because I'm very scared of heights. In my mind, I wrote it off as super dangerous and scary, and so therefore I wasn’t ever going to try it. However, we had gone on a canyoneering trip and the guide that day had said that rock climbing is, "climbing as high as you want and then going back down." So with that in mind, I decided to give rock climbing a try. And surprisingly I enjoyed the challenge and we have been enjoying rock climbing ever since.

The sport can really be as fun and easy going ask you make it.

(me) Jodi's first time rock climbing in Moab, Utah.

There are 3 different ways to rock climb.

Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, and Top Roping.

Traditional Climbing.

Trad climbing is where you place all the gear to protect against falls, and you remove it when you’re complete with the climb.

Sport Climbing.

Sport Climbing is where you are clipping into permanent bolts that were previously anchored with hand drills to the rock for protection. These bolts are placed from about 3 to 10 feet apart. So you’re clipping into permanent bolts on the wall.

Top Roping.

Top rope climbing is where the climber is already attached to a rope that is ran through the anchor system that is already at the top of the climb. The rope is then ran back down to a belayer at the base of the climb. So you’re already secure before you begin climbing.

A few things to know.

Route length and what "pitch" means in rock climbing?

The length of the route will determine the number of pitches. One pitch means using your full length of rope to get to one section of the climb. So each section of a climb between stops at belay stations is called a pitch. So, the lead climber ascends the pitch placing gear and stopping to anchor themselves to the belay station. This then allows the second climber to ascend to the point of the lead climber at the belay station. And then the leader of the next pitch ascends the route and they do it again. So multi pitch routes are climbing routes that are more than one pitch long.


What gear you’ll need for rock climbing.

You’ll need a rope, shoes, a harness, a belay device, carabiner, quickdraw, a helmet, chalk, and belay gloves. Gloves and chalk are not really necessary, but nice to have. I don’t use belay gloves, but I do like to use chalk for climbing. And most importantly you’re going to need a climbing partner. 

However, we have met people who solo top rope climb with a self-belay system.

Tying knots.

You’ll need to learn to tie a few different knots.

The first knot you’ll need to learn to tie is the Figure 8 Knot (or also known as a rewoven figure 8 knot or figure 8 follow through knot).

The Figure 8 Knot is the most common knot for tying the rope into your harness.

There are a few other different knots you’ll want to learn, but to get you started you’ll need to learn that figure 8 knot.


It’s important that you get some of the basic communication lingo down. So that way you and your climbing partner have a clear line of communication, keeping you both safe.

You’ll need to know things Like "belay on”, “slack”, “take”, “climbing”, “rope”, and a few others. They’re pretty easy to learn and once you get out there these words will all make sense.

How to find Rock Climbing Routes.

We find rock climbing routes by using the app called Mnt Project. The app is pretty simple. However, sometimes you have to do a little bit of hiking around to find some of the routes, because not all of them give you an exact GPS location or loosing service is always possible.

We also like to filter the routes by the skill level. If you have watched any of our videos when we started rock climbing you’ll see we have tried to climb routes that turned out to be over our skill level. 

Here's a few to laugh at:

Knowing your skill level will save you time, by filtering your search for routes based on your skill level. 

We also filter our search in the app by looking for top rope or sport climbing routes. We don’t have trad gear and we don’t plan on doing any trad climbing. So, we look for top rope and sport climbing routes. 

When we first started rock climbing outside by ourselves, we started with top rope routes. With top rope routes, we can hike around to the top and setup our anchor system. We would be secure to the top of the climb before we began climbing.

That wraps up my beginners guide to rock climbing. I hope this takes off some of the intimidation you might of had about rock climbing. So get out there and give it try, rather its at a gym or with a guide, go have a good time and climb on.

Rob's first time climbing in Moab, Utah

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