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How to Take Someone Climbing For Their First Time

Five tips to make anyone's first time climbing more fun, more relaxing, and easier to do! Climbing should feel fun and safe

They’re gonna be a little nervous. With all of the excitement placed around films like Free Solo and Dawn Wall, many climbers-to-be may have some exaggerated expectations for what it is to come. Even though indoor climbing is comparatively safe, even plastic comes with risks most obvious to the newer climber. How can you have a solid first time climbing?

Ask Them For Input

In 2022, almost everyone has at least heard of rock climbing, but with urban gyms cropping up, movies hitting the mainstream, and many having friends already involved with the sport, each person’s interpretation of climbing will differ from the last. As such, the reason their interested may also be different.

Asking them what they want to do can be an important first step, and can influence your session, What’s more, if they seem nervous, asking them about that is a great way to determine the gym and the time you should go. Many people are nervous to climb in front of a crowd, while others may be excited by the large group of people.

Take Them Outside

If they are particularly excited about going outside, or you only have access to a rock wall, you can have your first session outdoors. In the past, many climbers would first interact with the sport on rock. It is never too late to transfer that experience to a newer climber. With that said, you should have a bit of experience outdoors yourself as it is a much more dangerous place than the gym.

If you do take them outdoors to climb, then take the opportunity to show them what makes the outdoors beautiful. A lot of climbers love being outside for the simple joy of nature. Show them how to protect outdoor spaces, and what respecting the land your using looks like.

Take Them Indoors

Most new climbers will want to try climbing inside first. The less intimidating terrain seems better protected and far easier to access. Purchasing a day pass and renting the shoes is a great place to start and gives your new climber an opportunity to experience community. Many new climbers today join for the community.

After they get the facility introduction from the staff, show them your favourite parts of the gym. Introduce them to your friends and show them what it means to be in this community space. Just as with the outdoors, there are little indoor etiquette tips that can make even the newest climber feel more involved with the space. Being in the know keeps people from feeling uncomfortable when they walk up to the wall.

Climb Together

Taking a new climber to the gym is fun, but it will be a slightly different session than normal. To begin, they will want your support. You should offer it to them! A great way to do that is by climbing together. After they know the rules of route they want to try, allow them to climb it first.

In the meanwhile, you can warm up and try stuff that is harder or as easy as what they’re working. Try not to climb their route unless they ask. Remember, problem solving is many climbers’ favourite part of the process. If they ask for you to do it, or for beta, try and climb it in the way that would be easiest for a new climber.

They Want to Rope Climb Indoors

When they want to rope climb, things become a little more challenging. With that said, it is something that you can negotiate. If they want to rope climb, a gym that has bouldering and ropes is ideal. This means that you can socialize in boulder after spending some attempts on the auto-belay.

If you’re feeling particularly generous, belaying them can also be fun as they will try terrain, they would not otherwise have access to. In this situation, exposing them to bouldering before they get tired can be helpful to remember. If this person is looking for a community, then showing them your community through bouldering can pair well with rope climbing.

In the end just try to keep things fun and light! If you’re having a good time, they will have a good time too.