We can’t blame you. While activities like skydiving or hang gliding might be an adrenaline rush, they also take the control away from you, and cost hundreds of dollars for an experience that lasts only a few minutes. Rock climbing, on the other hand, is an extreme sport that requires a lot of muscle: you’re going up, not down, and the only way you’re going to make it up there is through sheer force of will. If you want to know what a real achievement feels like, complete with blood, sweat, and camaraderie, rock climbing is the way to go.
However, before you take the first step, it’s important to be prepared. Rock climbing is an extreme sport, and while you’ll probably have trainers and/or buddies to watch your back, it’s always good to know what you’re getting into. Here are some of the essentials you’ll want to keep in mind before you go rock climbing for the first time.
If there was ever a time that you shouldn’t nickel and dime your expenses, this is it. Rock climbing is serious business, with real risks, so you’re going to want to make sure you get the very best gear you can. Aside from safety, doing this will also give you piece of mind—and probably be a lot more comfortable, as well.
Though a certain popular TV show made it look like rock climbing was something you could do in a heartbeat, with no preparation and no gear, don’t fall for this illusion: rock climbing is a sport where you want to have a lot of gear ready, including a sturdy helmet, a harness, a braking device, and a stick clip.
This is no time to wear your best tuxedo, or for that matter, baggy jeans—or tight ones. When you go rock climbing, and you’re picking out your wardrobe, you want to keep two things in mind: comfort and flexibility. You want clothing that will stretch easily, but not hang so much that it gets in the way. For example, sweat pants are a good option.
Seriously, seriously, seriously: don’t just hop on that cliff thinking that you’re going to be some action hero in a movie. Rock climbing takes practice to get right. It’s highly recommended that on your first rodeo, you should consider taking at least a 30-minute training class which will teach you what all of your gear does, how to use the ropes properly… not to mention, allows you to work out your first-time jitters while a professional is there to keep you safe.
Another thing that you’ll learn in class are the many knots that professional climbers use, from the double fisherman’s knot to the figure 8 retraced. Sure, you might already know a few knots. But considering you’re going to be suspended from a cliff, isn’t it worth mastering those skills while you have the chance?
You might just want to go rock climbing because it’s a cool activity—and it definitely is—but before you do your best Spider-Man impression up that cliff, it’s worth knowing that you’re actually going to be getting a lot of physical and psychological benefits from this.
For one, rock climbing has been shown to be a great aerobic activity, since it will definitely get your heart pumping. Rock climbing will also build muscle strength, particularly grip strength. However, the true hidden benefit to rock climbing is that it builds mental strength: if you want to get up that wall, it takes serious patience and perseverance. Don’t fret if you slip off the first time: just get back on there and do it again. This patience will not only make you a better rock climber, but it will impact your regular life as well, and give you the tools you need to handle stressful situations.