If you have a taste for adventure and want to try your hand at rock climbing, you can find thousands of places in the United States where a beginner can explore this activity. Even if you have no experience climbing, you can plan a successful outdoor trip to satisfy your curiosity if you train properly before your escapade.
Beginners can learn how to rock climb by practicing on indoor rock climbing walls.
Step 1Find a place that offers rock climbing lessons, such as an indoor climbing gym, and sign up for a course. Some outfitting companies, recreation centers, gymnastic facilities and YMCAs have rock climbing walls in their facilities and offer lessons as well.
Step 2Practice climbing; it is essential in becoming used to the physical rigors of rock climbing and learning about your personal capabilities and limits. Do not be afraid to ask more experienced rock climbers about their experiences when you are practicing. Check your local listings for sporting goods stores that have climbing walls and classes. The outdoor gear store REI (rei.com/stores) has locations all over the country with rock climbing walls. Locations with indoor rock climbing gyms include Seattle, Denver and Pittsburgh. Dick’s Sporting Goods (dickssportinggoods.com) is another chain with large stores that have indoor rock climbing gyms.
Step 3Take hikes to build your endurance. Go at least once a week for four- to six-hour hikes in boots and a hiking backpack to build your endurance. According to expert guide Michael Powers, endurance, not mastering technical moves, should be your biggest concern in training for a climb.
Step 4Choose a location for your climbing trip. Look for areas that have mountains and climbing areas with easy climbs. If you need help learning about the best locations, ask your rock climbing teacher for recommendations. Do not choose areas with extreme weather conditions. The American Alpine Institute publishes a guide to rock climbing programs on its website (aai.cc). The National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service have online guides, and many parks list areas for rock climbing. “Climbing magazine” (climbing.com) can also give you ideas for places to go for a trip and includes a list of classic climbs on its website.
Step 5Find a rock climbing tour group or guide for the area you choose for your trip. Ensure that guides have expert experience and are knowledgeable about the area. Ask about qualifications and training. Do not plan solo trips, as climbing areas and tour guides do not recommend climbing by yourself.
Step 6Get a physical. While rock climbing can be a thrilling experience, it is also dangerous. Get in top physical condition prior to climbing, and ensure you have no unknown physical problems before embarking on a rock climbing trip.
Step 7Book your trip. Use online discount travel agencies to book your trip if desired. If your trip is with a tour company, ask them about partnerships they may have with travel agents. Also, check local tourist bureaus for information on accommodations. If you are traveling from outside the United States, check the U.S. State Department’s website for information on visas (travel.state.gov).
Step 8Make a list of gear and food that you will need for your trip. Most tour companies provide a lot of the gear you need and guidelines for safety. However, you will still need to buy rock shoes, which are specialized sneakers for climbing. Other gear needed for climbing include a harness, locking carabiners, belays, a helmet and more. However, depending on the location and time of year of your climb, the specific type of equipment you need may vary. You should also bring a water bottle and snacks such as energy bars.