Rock Climbing 101

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Rock Climbing 101 – Your Guide to Rock Climbing

Welcome to Rock Climbing 101. Are you ready to learn the basics of rock climbing? We sure hope so. This page is about rock climbing for beginners. If you are an experienced climber you can still benefit from this information. Let’s begin by first recognizing that climbing is amazing and a ton of fun but, it is also dangerous.   Safety Disclaimer climbing is dangerous Rock climbing is dangerous. You must understand and practice safe climbing technique whenever you climb in order to reduce your risk of injury, paralysis, or death. You are responsible for your own safety and the safety of your climbing partners. Climbing at indoor gyms and outside on real rock both present serious risks to your safety, physical health, and life. Here are some rock climbing 101 tips for safety.

  • Check your knots and harness buckles
  • Inspect your gear and replace when needed
  • Know your climbing partners and their habits
  • Check your belay
  • Keep an eye on the weather
  • Rock breaks – check your holds (loose holds are marked with a white X)
  • Always double check your rappel system (this is a climber’s most dangerous mistake)

Remember, safety is your responsibility! All we are trying to say is just make sure that you have enough rock climbing information and knowledge before you get out there and climb. Rock climbing 101 is here to help you. Let’s start.

  • Get to know the different kinds of climbing; bouldering, sport climbing, traditional climbing, and indoor climbing. What are you most interested in?
  • Understand what kind of climbing gear you need and how to use it.
  • Check out the benefits of rock climbing.
  • Take an intro climbing class often called (Rock Climbing 101) at a local indoor climbing gym. This will be a chance for you to learn how some basic techniques from someone who knows how to climb.
  • Top roping is a great way to learn some basic technique and become familiar with and gain trust in the climbing rope systems.
  • Find someone at a local gym or a friend to coach/mentor you; they can give you important pointers and advice.
  • Remember learning to climb is a process. Every time you climb make it a goal to learn something new and have fun.

Getting Started

Having the proper gear is essential if you want to climb strong and safely. You’ll want to get a good pair of rock climbing shoes, a chalk bag, and some chalk to keep your hands dry and increase the friction between your skin and the surface of the rock and holds. What other kind of gear do you need? Now remember the gear you need depends on what type of climbing you are going to be doing. Since, Rock Climbing 101 focuses on rock climbing for beginners, we recommend you stick with top roping and bouldering to start. These will help you learn the rock climbing basics. Check out climbing gear to get complete information about all the gear you need to climb.

Rock Climbing Basics, Technique

This section contains the basics of hand and foot technique. First let’s talk about a common problem with beginning rock climbers. When people start to climb they think rock climbing is all about upper body strength and for some reason they forget to use their legs. Your legs are much stronger than your arms so be sure to use them accordingly. When you climb you should focus twice the amount of energy on using your feet and legs than as you do on your hands and arms. Your fingers and hands should hold you close to the rock, while you use your legs to push you up the rock. You do not have to have mutant strength to climb well – it is much more important to have a solid foundation in good technique. Rock Climbing 101 Foot Techniques Edging: using the inside of the foot to stand on a foothold. Backstepping: is outside edging on a foothold that is behind you while climbing a move with your side to the wall. Smearing: when you place your foot directly on the rock or wall. Heel hook: the use of the heel on a hold, usually near chest level, to aid in pulling and balance. Toe hook: hooking your toe on the rock. Toe hooks are most common on arêtes and with underclings. Flagging: a climbing technique in which one foot is crossed behind the other to avoid barn-dooring and to improve balance.

Rock Climbing 101 Hand Techniques

Crimp: the most natural and stressful way to grip a rock hold; characterized by hyperextension of the first joint in the fingers and nearly full contraction of the second joint. Open Hand Grip: gripping the rock with the first joint in the fingers and keeping the hand open. This is the safest hand position for your joints. Gaston: best described as a handhold that is only good from the side; you must hold it with your elbows pointing out and palm facing away from you. Jug: a massive, easy to hold onto hold. Pinch: a hold where you must pinch using your thumb and fingers to hold on (they vary in size). Side pull: crimping or using an open hand grip on a vertical or near vertical hold. Sloper: sloping hold with very little positive surface like palming a basketball. Undercling: grabbing a hold with the palm facing up.

Hand Technique
Crimp Open Hand Grip
Gaston Jug
Pinch Sidepull
Sloper Undercling

Rock Climbing 101 Basic Climbing Technique

Cross through: crossing over or under your hand to reach a hold. Hand-foot-match: placing your hand and foot on the same hold at the same time. Drop knee: an exaggerated backstep in which one knee is dropped toward the ground with the other pointing up, great for overhanging rock. High step: a technique to use with a high foot placement. Mantle: a climbing technique that requires you to transfer from a pulling position to a pushing position; typically used to topout on boulder problems and to climb past a shelf on roped climbs. Foot switch: a technique used to replace one foot with the other foot. It is best accomplished by slowly replacing the foot and without jumping. Match: to place both hands on the same hold typically done when switching hands on the hold.

Basic Climbing Technique
Cross Over Hand Foot Match

A Final Tip

Make sure that you enjoy the people and the places climbing takes you more than the difficulty of the routes you climb. Climbing is so much more than grades and numbers. It is important to start enjoying the beauty of nature and community right from the beginning. “The best climber is the one having the most fun.” -Alex Lowe

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Related posts:

  1. Crack Climbing
  2. Graffetti
  3. Climbing Games
  4. Climbing Twister
  5. Climbing Injury

This entry was posted on Friday, September 10th, 2010 at and is filed under Rock Climbing Techniques. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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