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Know Before You Go: Rock Climbing

May 18, 2016 11:22AM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Drew Haste

For the more adventurous types, the adrenaline junkies, rock-climbing may be a familiar sport. However, for beginners, the task of climbing a rock wall, whether indoors or out may seem especially daunting. For those with little to no knowledge of this exciting yet exhausting sport, we have you covered with all the essential terms and tips that will help give you a confidence boost before you even put hands to wall.

Key Terms

Seven essential terms you’re sure to hear during your first climb. Belayer: safety person at ground level that spots and stops the climber from falling or smacking the ground by braking the rope (same concept as brakes on a car). Harness: used to secure a person to a length of rope or an anchor point. Locking carabineer: an oval-shaped tool, essential for every climber, on which the gate can be locked to hook a climber onto a rope. Gate (of a carabineer): the latch of a carabineer that allows it to close completely, usually having a lock. Dynamic rope: a dual-colored rope that stretches to distribute the downward forces that are applied; a climbing rope that can be used in any situation. Grigri: a belay device that has a self-locking system if a climber falls. Bouldering: a form of climbing performed on a small-scale wall without the use of ropes or harnesses, but with padded mats to prevent injuries from falls. Good for practicing.

Safety Considerations

Like a good scout, always be prepared and aware of changing situations. Know your limitations: Even the best climbers know when to quit! Make sure you know how much strain your body can take to prevent injuries from occurring. Go with someone you trust: Make sure you can trust your climbing partner and that he or she will not let you fall to the ground. Know your partner well enough to effectively communicate, even if that means shouting directions at them. Always wear a helmet: Your noggin needs protection, even when indoors. Stay hydrated: Make sure to drink plenty of water to fuel your body. Dehydration is a serious concern when exerting your body during unfamiliar exercise. Dress for success: Make sure to wear the appropriate apparel for climbing. Leave the slippery or heavy boots and tight-fitting clothing at home. For first-time climbers, athletic sneakers and stretchy clothing are best.

What to Expect

Before, during, and after your first audacious climb. Stretch your muscles: to prevent as much soreness as possible and get your blood flowing, stretch the muscles you know you will be using for climbing, such as your arms, legs, etc. Be sure to hydrate before you climb. Sore muscles: Rock-climbing will strain some muscles that most people have never had to use before even if you stretch as well as possible. Make sure to continue hydrating post-climb and rest up before hitting the rock wall again. An immediate surge of confidence: Climbing a rock wall, indoors or outdoors, is an extremely satisfying and confidence-boosting experience. Be prepared for the sense of accomplishment you will feel after climbing a particularly hard section of a wall.