Do you want to start climbing?
Climbing is a sport that can be performed both indoors and outdoors. There are different types of climbing, for which you need various kinds of equipment. Bouldering is the form of climbing that requires the least equipment, just a pair of shoes and some chalk. If you want to climb with ropes, you will also need a climbing harness, rope brake and a carabiner. The forms of climbing commonly referred to are sport climbing, bouldering, tree climbing and alpine climbing.
What should I keep in mind when buying a climbing harness?
The most important thing when
buying your first harness is that it should feel comfortable on your body.
Adjustable leg straps are preferable. Make sure the harness fits tightly around
your waist and cannot be pulled down over your hips. A wider strap is more
comfortable, but usually comes with a higher price tag. Gear loops are
available on most climbing harnesses, you can hang your carabiners, brake and
chalk bag on them.
What shoes should I wear?
For beginners, it' s a good idea to choose a “gentle” climbing shoe, a shoe with a flat, soft sole. Keep in mind that a climbing shoe should fit tightly on the foot, the toe should touch the tip of the shoe for an optimal grip on the rock. If you're a more experienced climber, a more “aggressive” shoe might be preferable, one where the toe itself is more pointed downwards, providing additional contact with the rock. Climbing shoes are generally separated into five groups:
Neutral – Technical – Performance – Approach – Ice climbing
Neutral shoe: A neutral climbing shoe is used as an all-round shoe with a flat, symmetrical sole. Good for beginners and more advanced climbers alike. The straight toe compartment offers higher comfort while using your foot as a wedge.
Technical shoe: A technical shoe can also be used in multiple forms of climbing, but the main difference is that the sole is slightly bent downwards or has an asymmetrical shape to give better grip on small surfaces. If you climb indoors on 5+ tracks, these shoes are recommended.
Performance shoes: A performance shoe is used for aggressive climbing. The sole has a more aggressive bend to it, and often a highly asymmetrical shape that offers maximum strength to the toes. Often used for overhang climbing. Due to the shape of the shoes, they are often less comfortable to use during wall climbing and can be quite painful to use for wedging.
Approach shoes: Approach shoes look and feel like a regular sneaker, except for having stickier rubber and often a front part that’s similar to a neutral climbing shoe. An approach shoe is mainly used for traveling to and from the climbing area, but they can often be used for climbing easier passages on your way to the main wall.
Ice climbing: For ice climbing you use specific
mountaineering boots with a very stiff sole and spiked crampons that you attach
to the boot.
Which rope brake should I choose as a beginner?
A rope brake is used for
belaying climbers or for rappelling. There are a variety of rope brakes that
work in different ways and that fit different types of ropes. The most common
brake for beginners is called ATC-brake and it's the one you use when
performing top rope climbs. More advanced rope brakes are often self-locking,
which provides extra safety for both the climber and the belayer. For
rappelling you can use a figure-of-eight, also known as a FoE, for a smoother
descent. Talk to your climbing instructor for advice on how to use these since
it’s of utmost importance that they are attached correctly to use safely.
Which carabiner should I use for my rope brake?
The most important thing when you buy your first carabiner is to check that it is made for climbing, and that it is a carabiner that can be locked. Depending on what your rope brake looks like, different carabiners are recommended; be sure to check that the carbine is compatible with your brake.
What kind of chalk should I buy?
Chalk is used to get a better grip on the wall, it makes your hands less damp. You can buy chalk in bulk, in a ball, in liquid and in block form. For bouldering you can use any kind, for rope climbing it is most convenient to use loose chalk which you keep in a chalk bag. Some clubs don’t allow the use of loose chalk for indoor climbing as it often creates a lot of dust. It’s often recommended to use liquid chalk or chalk balls instead.
Other safety gear
Climbing helmet: A helmet is used while climbing or rappelling outdoors to protect your head from falling rocks or in the event that you should slip and fall. Even though the rope and harness should keep you safe from falling, you might still end up bumping against the rock wall.
Crash pad: Whether you’re bouldering or rope climbing, the first 4 meters are always the trickiest to ensure your safety; the rope is usually secured too close to the ground during the start up to keep you from hitting the ground should you fall, and when bouldering, you’re usually near other rocks. With a crash pad you’ll land softly during those first few meters.
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