Getting Started →

Do I need to start indoors?

No, but it definitely helps. If there's a climbing gym in your area, give it a shot to see if it's something you like. Chances are if there's any actual rock climbing in your part of the world, there's a gym facility in the nearest big city.

Starting your climbing indoors is the easiest way to train your muscles — and your brain — for movement on vertical terrain. Under the supervision of the gym staff and other climbers, you'll learn about top-roping, lead climbing, the belay system, and important aspects of safety. While it's possible to learn the same things outdoors, it requires a large commitment of time and patience, not only from you but from your teacher as well. The initial learning curve can be steep, so at least a few sessions indoors where you build a baseline level of climbing acuity is important.

But if you don't have an indoor practice spot, you can get started outdoors by going with an experienced guide — possibly a friend, and taking it one step at a time. All of the biggest vertical rock faces in the world were first climbed by guys and gals who never stepped foot in a climbing gym. And until the early 1990s, the climbing gym didn't even exist.

Again, if you're headed outdoors, do go with someone that is experienced. In principle, everything you need to know is available on YouTube or on sites like this one, but — in practice — it's incredibly dangerous to try climbing without hands-on experience and a qualified instructor.


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