Getting started at being an “adventurous” type person isn’t easy when you have lived most of your life staying a little to far on the “safe” side of life. Call me silly if you like, but the idea of getting hurt just doesn’t appeal to me. That is why I really like indoor rock climbing for beginning adventurers. It is amazingly safe, a lot of fun, takes less strength than you might think, and definitely has the cool factor going for it.
I wish this was a picture of me climbing the wall, but I have climbed to the top of that wall! The climber in the picture is my daughter, and she made it all the way to the top.
She took the hard route.
Unlike outdoor rocks, the rocks at the indoor gym are color coded to show different tracks up the wall. Some tracks are easy, some are hard, some have special challenges. I am still working on the easy ones. My daughter skipped right to the intermediate level routes.
You would think that you would need a lot of upper body strength to climb. But at the beginner level you really don’t. You use your legs to move up the wall. Your arms and hands are just for balance and stabilization.
It really becomes fun when you learn to trust your rope. When you trust your rope (and your belayer, the person who is holding the rope for you) you know you really can’t get hurt. If you fall you will just swing a little bit, and that is all. So you can try for tricky moves, or even jump to get over an obstacle, and if you miss it is no big deal.
The hardest part about indoor rock climbing, when you are forty something and have a few extra pounds, is that it is not a skill you can work out in private. Lots of people may be watching you, and not from the most flattering angle if you know what I mean! At the very least your belayer will be watching your every move. And then there is the fact that it seems like most of the people in the gym seem to be really lean and really fit. Rock climbing is a great sport for overall fitness. But for the most part everyone is the gym is really supportive of the newbies. They really seem to enjoy sharing their sport, and offering tips on how to get over that next obstacle.
You don’t really need to buy anything to get started with indoor rock climbing. You can rent everything you need at the gym. Wear clothes that are comfortable that you can mover freely in. The price for indoor rock climbing is pretty reasonable. For 2 hours of climbing, harness and shoe rental I pay around $15. The gym I go to includes a belay class for free, so you can bring a partner and take turns climbing and belaying. (The belayer is the person that holds the rope, their job is to make sure you don’t fall so be sure to bring someone you can trust will pay attention!)