Climbing has become increasingly popular in recent years, in case you hadn’t noticed. There are climbing gyms popping up everywhere, and people are flocking to them.
You might have just opened a gym nearby, or you may have a friend who is always talking about “crimps” and “slopers.”
This article will help you learn the (literal) ropes if you are curious, fascinated, or unsure about climbing.
- What Is Indoor Climbing?
- Types of Indoor Climbing
- Can you climb indoors safely?
- Climbing indoors is good for your fitness?
- The Difficulty of the Task
- Can You Tell Me What Climbing Gear I Need?
- What Do I Wear Indoor Climbing?
- Can I Bring Kids to the Climbing Gym?
- Indoor Climbing Tips & Techniques
- What If I Want to Climb Outside?
- Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs):
What Is Indoor Climbing?
It should come as no surprise that indoor climbing (aka gym climbing) is a descendant of outdoor climbing. The climbing community wanted a way to train climbing movements even when it was wet or snowy. The first climbing gyms were simple wooden structures in basements and garages in the mid-to late 1900s.
In many climbing gyms today, Olympic training facilities are more common than sheds. Climbing competitions have evolved into their own sport, complete with a World Cup circuit.
All indoor climbing, however, has the same basic objective: Climbing man-made walls with plastic features and holds and as a general rule, the goal is to climb to the top of the wall without falling off (although you can also fall if you’re caught by ropes or pads).
In gyms, climbing holds are arranged in unique ways to challenge and puzzle climbers. The colored tape or the color of the holds are used to color-code climbing routes. When climbing a route, you only use the colored holds.
This is not a requirement. Climbing rainbow-style, using whatever holds you feel comfortable with, is always fine. Climbers take on an extra challenge when they use color-coded routes.
A few types of gym climbing fall under the umbrella of gym climbing:
Types of Indoor Climbing
Bouldering is the type of climbing that keeps a relatively close relationship with the ground.
The height of indoor bouldering walls ranges from 8 to 15 feet. It is cushioned by thick padding that absorbs the impact of a fall.
Routes on bouldering walls are often referred to as “problems.” Because bouldering walls are lower, bouldering problems tend to be shorter than routes on walls that require ropes.
(To illustrate, here is a clip of a climber climbing a simple boulder problem. Just see the way how he only uses the green holds.)
Low walls don’t mean bouldering is easy, though. However all the boulder problems often focus on short sequences of powerful moves, making them a great place to learn and practice your climbing technique close to the mats.
The taller roped walls are not always available in gyms, as some have only bouldering walls. Large buildings are harder to come by in cities.
Due to the height of the toprope walls, mats alone cannot do the job. Instead, climbers are kept from falling off walls by ropes and a rope is coiled around a beam at the top of the climb, with the ends dangling down to the ground.
A partner is usually required for toproping. The climber attaches one end of the rope to a climbing harness around their waist, and their partner attaches the other end of the rope to their own harness to form a belay.
The climber creates some slack in the rope as they move up the wall. To ensure that the rope still catches the climber, the belayer removes slack from their end while still keeping it secured to their harness. This is accomplished with a belay device, a small piece of hardware that lets the rope pass through but not slip back out.
When this system is used, the rope can follow the climber, catching them in the event of a fall. It usually doesn’t take much to prop your harness back into place in case of a toprope fall — usually no more than a few inches. The belayer gently lowers the climber back to the ground using the belay device when the climber is ready to come down.
Even though the height of walls varies greatly, toprope routes are usually longer.
Whenever you walk into a larger climbing gym, you’ll likely see a wall that is completely devoid of ropes. The walls here are dedicated to lead climbing.
Lead climbing, unlike toproping, starts with a rope at the bottom of the climb. Climbers and belayers tie in as usual, but climbers must clip the rope to regularly spaced points on the wall as they climb.
A quickdraw consists of a carabiner attached to a length of webbing or cable at each of these points. By clipping the last quickdraw, the climber remains safe from hitting the ground in case of a fall.
For both climber and belayer, lead climbing involves some extra training. Lead climbing, though not necessarily more risky than other forms of climbing, places more responsibility on the climbers. When starting in a gym, it’s usually easiest to practice toproping before learning how to lead climb.
Can you climb indoors safely?
In this regard, we need to ask ourselves the most important question: is indoor climbing safe? No matter how extreme climbing is perceived as a sport, it can be enjoyable.
Accidents do happen, and (as with many sports) climbing can result in injuries by overuse or strain.
Inside a gym , there is no risk of rock fall or bad weather, and all important components, like ropes, pads, and auto belays, are regularly inspected and accidents are the last thing any gym wants.
For toproping and lead climbing, all climbers must pass a belay test before they can belay others. The gym staff ensures that no unsafe belay practices are being used.
All in all, the climber is ultimately responsible for managing risk. Climbers have to ensure they’re comfortable with the system and feel safe while on the wall. Indoor climbing can be kept to a minimum as long as that’s the case.
In case you have any questions about the safety of gym climbing, please ask a staff member. They will teach you everything you need to know to stay safe in the gym.
If you are on the fence about rock climbing because of its extreme reputation, don’t worry. Getting over fear is part of the appeal of climbing, but not because it’s dangerous. Climbing a wall is exciting, but it can also be just as safe as any other sport (if not safer).
Climbing indoors is good for your fitness?
Certainly. However, it’s probably not like the workouts you are used to.
The body is used in many different ways when climbing. The majority of upward movement comes from pushing with your legs. As you climb the wall, you pull, push, and balance using your upper body and arms. As a result, the whole body is involved, with the biceps, back, and core heavily engaged.
There are some very specific muscles involved in climbing – particularly those of your fingers and forearms. Bigger muscles handle the work, and you’ll eventually need your hands to keep you afloat.
Climbing feels hard at first because of this. Climbing requires sustained effort that most people’s forearms aren’t accustomed to. Upon first entering the climbing gym, forearm soreness may be expected.
Fortunately, these muscles adapt rapidly. After a few climbs, the forearms will start adapting to longer climbs and sessions. It is surprising how much progress beginners can make within just a few months of climbing and this is the only reason why it is so rewarding.
Furthermore, climbing routes are designed to encourage a wide variety of movements. It is often more important to have flexibility, body awareness, and balance than raw strength.
Consequently, rock climbing is a sport for both men and women, of any age or body type. Climbing does not require a brawny bodybuilder – or even to be one of the best climbers in the world.
The Difficulty of the Task
The grades assigned to climbing routes in most gyms indicate their difficulty.
A grade is a subjective measurement, and the feeling of difficulty varies greatly from person to person.
Rope climbing in the USA is graded on the Yosemite Decimal System (which ranges from 5.0 to 5.15) and bouldering on the V-grade system (V0-V17).
There is a huge variation in grades in the gym compared to outside. Most gym grades are specified by routesetters, but community members often play a part in deciding them. Despite gyms’ attempts to keep themselves internally consistent, grades do not always feel the same from one gym to another.
Avoid getting too hung up on numbers in general. Although grades can be useful for assessing climbs, they do not define you or your climbing.
Can You Tell Me What Climbing Gear I Need?
Where to begin? First start with a good a good attitude.
Gyms offer equipment to rent so you can climb the wall. When you’re just starting out, renting makes more sense than buying your own gear. Climbing consistently gives you the ability to choose what gear suits your needs the best.
Here is what you will use:
It is often necessary to step on a narrow foothold when climbing. Sneakers and street shoes aren’t the best for this.
A climber’s shoes are designed specifically for climbing. The soles of these slippers are sticky and tight. With the close fitting, you can push down on footholds with your toes, and the rubber helps you stay on the wall.
Some climbing gyms offer shoes for rent at a small fee. The shoes aren’t the prettiest climbing shoes on the market, but as a starter pair (and better than sneakers), they’re perfectly adequate.
It is not necessary to wear socks under climbing shoes, but you can. Without socks, climbers are able to climb with greater precision.
Shoes for climbing should fit snugly without being uncomfortable or painful. Our gym staff can help you find a shoe size that fits you.
There are a number of effective and budget-friendly beginner climbing shoes when you’re ready to move beyond rentals.
Climbing Chalk & Chalk Bag
One of a climber’s biggest enemies is sweaty hands. When you work hard, it’s natural to sweat. But sweaty fingers leave you greasy before you know it.
Small drawstring chalk bags are usually used to carry chalk around. You can purchase a chalk bag (with accompanying chalk) at a climbing gym for a few dollars. You can access chalk from a chalk bag while on the wall by securing a strap around your waist.
You only need climbing shoes and a chalk bag to climb boulders if that is all you plan on doing. Simply put your shoes on, chalk up your hands, and hop on the wall.
An appropriate climbing harness is needed for climbing taller walls. You’ll be tying the rope to your harness (or clipping the auto belay to your belt) to prevent yourself from falling too far.
A harness looks complicated, but it consists of a waistbelt and two leg loops connected by webbing.
There will be harnesses available for rent in gyms with toprope walls, but the design may differ. You may need to tie in through two loops on some harnesses, while others only have one. There are rental harnesses for a wide range of waist sizes, and gym staff will be happy to help you find the right size and learn how to use it.
When you’re ready to buy your own harness, you should get one you’ll enjoy wearing.
If we are talking about tying in, your knot is very important. The majority of gyms offer short classes to teach new climbers how to tie the correct knot and belay. This is a good way to get your partner and yourself on the wall if you’re new to climbing. Many gyms will let an experienced climber tie your knots for you if you’re climbing with them.
In gyms that have auto belays, you can climb without a partner. If you have a harness, chalk, chalk bag, and shoes, you can clip into an auto belay and start climbing.
If you climb on ropes with a partner, he or she will probably want to climb as well. To accomplish that, you’ll also need to learn how to belay.
A quick gym class is another good way to learn this skill. In order to become certified to belay at the gym, you must pass a staff-administered test. You shouldn’t be intimidated by these tests – they’re designed to ensure that you have the necessary skills to keep yourself and your partner safe.
It is necessary to have a belay device in order to belay. The majority of gyms with roped climbs will provide some type of belay device. Many gyms rent out equipment, but some leave dedicated equipment at every rope station. If you’re not sure about your gym’s policies, speak with the staff to find out how to get started.
What Do I Wear Indoor Climbing?
As long as you can move freely, you can do whatever you want.
As climbing requires a great deal of movement for both arms and legs, it is advisable to wear clothes that can move or stretch along with you.
Working up a sweat is also possible. Even though climbing gyms are usually well ventilated, it’s a good idea to wear clothes that can withstand sweat. As with other athletic activities, you can wear clothing for climbing gym just as well.
Can I Bring Kids to the Climbing Gym?
Definitely. Climbing gyms are designed with kids in mind, and most of them welcome kids.
There is usually a separate climbing area for kids at most gyms. In most gyms, you can rent equipment, rent space, and hire belayers for events like birthday parties.
Climbing gyms are a great option even if you just want to have fun with the kids. In addition to their high strength-to-weight ratio, kids are highly adaptable and enjoy climbing. Children often feel more comfortable on the wall than their parents.
It’s a good idea to consult your gym about their policies and recommendations when it comes to supervision. Bring your children to the gym if you’re thinking about going.
Indoor Climbing Tips & Techniques
As a sport, climbing isn’t quite like most sports, nor are climbing gyms like regular gyms. Listed below are some tips to help you have a great gym experience.
- Straighten your arms whenever possible. Straight arms require less effort when you’re hanging on to a hold than bent ones. Not your muscles, but your bones should hold the tension.
- Try to move around as much as you can with your legs. Climbing moves that seem especially difficult are often due to incorrect foot placement. In case your feet get stuck, try to move them up and find a better foothold.
- Learn all the (many) holds on the wall. It is best to grab some holds from the side or even from the bottom. Depending on the angle of the wall, holds might be useful in different ways.
- Plan ahead. Prepare a few moves in advance. What will you do with your hands? What will your feet lead you to? Involving your brain more will help you learn movements more quickly.
- Try varying your body position. There are some movements that work best on climbing walls. From one position, some moves will seem impossible, but with a new approach, they become easier.
- Make sure your hips are moving. You can brace your body against different holds by rotating one hip or the other sideways toward the wall. This often unlocks tricky sequences.
- Be creative. Would you like to brace your knee on a hold? Would you like to try jumping for the next hold? You should do it. Climbing has no hard-and-fast rules.
- Ask for help whenever you need it. Other climbers may have “beta” – insight into how to complete a sequence if you’re having trouble.
Check out our beginner climbing tips article for even more helpful tips.
- Make sure you know what the rules are. Every gym has its own rules about what is acceptable behavior inside the gym and on the walls. Be sure to follow them – they’re usually there to keep you safe.
- The wall is open for sharing. In particular during peak hours, there will be a lot of climbers nearby. You should watch out so that your route does not interfere with someone else’s climbing. Bouldering is about taking turns with other climbers and not walking right below them.
- Please be considerate. Your behavior shouldn’t disrupt anyone else’s climb. This also applies to your children and pets (if your gym is pet-friendly).
- Ask if you’re unsure. The climbing community loves talking about climbing, as you may have noticed. Gym staff will be happy to answer almost any question you have about climbing.
- Be aware of your limits. Jumping on the highest wall or performing the hardest moves doesn’t have to be your first step. The purpose of climbing is to have fun. Become comfortable moving along the wall, and have fun while doing so.
- However, don’t be afraid to push those limits. A large part of what makes climbing so rewarding is overcoming your own doubts and fears. Don’t be afraid to take new routes and push yourself when you’re ready.
What If I Want to Climb Outside?
Nevertheless, a few may want to try their hand at the roots of the sport: out on the real stuff.
A climb in a gym is entirely different than one performed outdoors. Tape and color coding aren’t available to help you understand a climb. By rock type, climbing holds and styles differ considerably. There is less predictability in the environment, and you may need to hike to get there. If you plan to climb ropes or use crash pads, make sure to bring them with you.
Nevertheless, climbing outdoors can be an incredibly beautiful experience and adapting to it can be challenging or mild, social or solitary, or remote or accessible.
If you’re going outdoors, ensure that you are comfortable and safe. Learning from an experienced friend or guide is beneficial.
Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs):
Is indoor rock climbing hard for beginners?
You can go rock climbing if you can climb a ladder; climbing rocks isn’t hard for beginners. Several difficulty levels of climbing routes and bouldering problems are available. Start with something easy within your comfort zone and work your way up.
How do I learn to climb indoors?
If you want to know how to climb indoors, you need to check out this video.
What do beginner climbers need?
To know what beginner need for climbing check out this article
Is there a weight limit for rock climbing?
Climbing is not recommended for individuals who are “overweight” because the incident rate of injury is much higher. In any case, rock climbing is something that everyone can do, regardless of size or shape. Approximate Weight Limit for climbing is 250 lbs.
Does climbing build muscle?
The act of climbing, no matter what type it is, will help you build muscle in certain parts of your body which will make climbing later more effective. Transformations are most noticeable in the forearms, back, arms, and core.