OUTDOOR BASICS

Rock Climbing Techniques: A Survivor’s Guide

Rock climbing technique guide
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Let us share our rock climbing techniques with you. Have you always wanted to try rock climbing? It’s absolutely the biggest challenge for most people, but what’s life without a rock climbing adventure with your family and friends?

Let us share our guide to rock climbing with you. Hopefully, this will make it easier for you to try out it out.

Before you begin on your journey into this new sport, choose the type of climbing. Outdoor? Indoor? There is a broad range of disciplines in which different types of climbing may require different gears and training sessions.

One of the most popular sports would be Indoor Climbing. It is non-weather-dependent, so you can always go for it regardless of the weather or even the time of year. Climbing indoors is always fun and safer, which makes it a great option for beginners. You’ll then be able to rent your own gear before starting to rock climb.

If you’re looking for the kind that requires less time and gear, you can try Bouldering. It’s another type of rock climbing that is much safer in comparison and doesn’t require the use of ropes and/or harnesses.

With a crash pad ready to protect climbers, you don’t ever worry about falling or relying on ropes for protection. However, training is necessary as bouldering has a low barrier of entry. As the climber, you’ll be able to work on your strength while bouldering.

Bouldering

How about Outdoor rock climbing? Regarded as the most challenging type of rock climbing, you’ll have to be ready for a trip down the rocks and boulders while using quickdraws to clip in as you progress. Being indoors when you’re rock climbing is definitely more convenient and a lot safer, but if you’re up for a challenging sport, we’ve got a few tips on rock climbing outdoors to help guide you.

With instructions, tips and tricks to guide you on your way to rock climbing, you can start planning for a wonderful rock climbing adventure with your family and friends in no time!

Gear Up and Get Started with The Adventure!

Get to know your gear well before starting to rock climb. You’ll need comfortable and lightweight clothing that is breathable and helps wick away sweat. Put on a pair of rock climbing shoes that are lightweight as well, and are best-suited to your climbing goals. Be sure to wear the type of shoes that are the right fit for rock climbing, not the heavy ones for walking on the streets!

Wear a safety helmet for protection. Aside from that, a harness is needed to connect the rope to the climber, so make sure to choose it according to its level of comfort and its features over weight-savings.

Training Is Necessary

Training is recommended when it comes to rock climbing. We can’t afford to risk anything, can we? We’ve got to be well-prepared and ready before heading out on a real rock climbing journey.

It’s very important to start learning the proper techniques. Practice doing these few exercises such as pull-ups, pull-aparts, weight-lifts and benchmark before getting started with rock climbing. These exercises ensure that you’ve got good energy and strength for rock climbing. You can also try doing Retractions and protractions, with a repetition of both exercises 15 times each time.

Training is necessary

After being very familiar with those exercises and before actually climbing outdoors, we suggest starting with rock climbing indoors first, which is easier and safer. You’ll also need to learn how to tie the knots, which is the most important part of climbing and should not be omitted! Different tying techniques are for different purposes.

Let Us Get Started with The Rock Climbing!

Done with all the practice and ready to hit the real rocks? All the time that you’ve spent learning how to rock climb, perfecting your moves and your rock climbing skills will definitely make the experience worth it. But keep in mind that climbing indoors may not necessarily have you well-prepared for climbing outdoors, as you face completely different hazards in the great outdoors.

We also recommend getting a number of very experienced climbers to go with you on the trip to show you the ropes and be there for you whenever you need help.

Let’s get started with the rock climbing, shall we? Here are some tips for rock climbing.

Finding your way

Check if the rope is twisted or not ready before you start to climb. Set the top rope on the end of the route before you climb up.

When you’ve got the rope and everything ready, start looking for the easiest route. Don’t risk jumping for a harder route and focus on being steady. How do you perfect your steps and be strong when you’re trying to climb a rock? Steady steps, steady steps!

Outdoor rock climbing

Yes, when we’re talking about the steps, we mean that you should be focusing on your feet as well. We suggest setting decent hand holds so you can obtain the right balance and support as you climb.

Use your legs more than your arms, as they will get tired easily. And remember, rock climbing should be slow and steady. Take your time to find your route. Rushing will lead to a quick end.

The easiest route will provide the best holds for your hands, allowing you to take your time as you climb. If you want to get to the easier routes, look for the ones labelled 5.4 or 5.5, which are good for beginner climbers.

Get an experienced rock climber to go with you!

We recommend that all climbers should always go rock climbing together with more experienced rock climbers. When you’ve got a climbing partner with you on your ascent, they can always help you see if there are any holds for you and can point them out if you’re not seeing them.

Experienced rock climber

They can provide tips to help you along the way, provide motivation when you find yourself stuck, and serve as general backup when something goes wrong. It is never safe to go rock climbing alone.

Push up from your legs!

Less arm movement and more leg movement. Keep your arms extended and your weight hang low. With your hand, grip for balance and bend your knees. Be sure to look out for steady and solid footholds that you can step on. Drop your heels lower than your toes, keeping your weight on your toes instead of your hands.

Always plan in advance what your next move is going to be. Lift your left foot higher to make reaching easier. Try to read the route and visualize where you would go in advance instead of only thinking where to go when you’re already gripping the wall. Being unsure of which way to go will cause your arms to tire quickly and make it more difficult for you to continue.

Tired? Look for a resting point!

Yes, you’ve heard it. Re-chalk your hands now and again as the chalk runs off on rocks to ensure you always have a firm grip and aren’t tearing up your palms. Look for spots where you can take a rest and allow your muscles to have a break while you reapply your chalk. Do your stretch out and plan your next few moves while you’re resting.

Resting point

However, don’t wait too long to start again, as cold muscles are difficult to work with on your climb.

Learning the back-step

After all the learning, do keep in mind that nothing will make you stronger than dealing with problems of bad foot technique while climbing in the gym or indoors. Get your knots correctly tied and ready!

The next step is the most important and isn’t that difficult to master. It’s called the back-step. The back-step is when you stand on the outside edge of your foot on the right side and rotate your lower body so your right hip is against the wall, for example.

The most common steps that many climbers take would be with their left foot on hold then match their right foot on the hold in the back-step position. It’s actually better to use your right leg to cross over and get into the back-step directly instead of trying to go with matching feet. Master the back-step!

Learn how to get hold of it

Step up with one foot while trying to grab a new hold with the matching hand.

Learn how to get hold of it

Know how to hold. You’ll need to grab the right place and pull yourself up higher.

When climbing, especially when you’re hanging on holds, keep your arms straight. Beginner climbers will always start with their arms, but the best way would be to start with your legs.

But nothing will help your climb if you’re not wearing the right shoes. Not only do you have to make sure that the shoes you’re wearing are comfortable and lightweight, this is piece of gear that makes the real difference in your rock climbing.

Thus, it is important to have the right pair of shoes. It’s always a good idea to get a pair of loose-fitting shoes that are comfortable for your feet when climbing; don’t go for shoes that are too tight.

Finding your climbing style

There’s no specific right way to climbing as we are all encouraged to find the right climbing technique that suits us most. Experts may always try to teach beginners the only way to climb that they know is right, but we suggest you find the right technique that you can follow best. To be able to learn how to climb the right way and dynamically, finding your own climbing style is the solution.

Finding your climbing style

Relax yourself. There’s nothing wrong with having a different climbing style as long as it is safe and it works best for you. There’s no need to be afraid to give it a try. It may be the climbing technique that works for you and may be able to help you get the most of it efficiently.

Careful with injuries

We know just how important it is to have studied the right steps and now, the next step is try to avoid all injuries at all costs. When it comes to rock climbing, beginner climbers tend to rely on strength gains which creates this mindset that many climbers succumb to: the harder the route they get on, the better their muscles and strength are.

However, they couldn’t be more wrong. Building up the tendon resilience takes a long time, and could be three years or more before you’re even prepared for looking at a more difficult climbing route. Taking a route that’s too hard is likely to end up in serious injuries.

One way to avoid injuries while climbing would be to use the open-hand grip whenever you’re climbing. Do not crimp or your fingers may feel sore. As easy as it sounds, it’s easier said than done as even the most experienced climbers still have a bad habit of crimping!

Dangerous Mistakes that You Should Avoid

Be careful not to make any mistakes such as forgetting to put on the right gear or not tying your rope. Before getting started in this wonderful sport, ensure that your helmet is clipped on and fits properly, and that the harness closures are double-backed.

Dangerous mistakes

The rope should be tied correctly through a device, known as a ‘belay’ device and that the carabiners should be locked. The belay device is used to control a rope during belaying as it acts as a brake on the climbing rope.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Rock climbing maybe fun and challenging, but it’s best to have all the techniques learned and properly studied before trying it out on the real rocks outdoors. While gyms provide indoor climbing that can help us with our strength, but like most activities, it is a real adventure when you’ve stepped outside to experience it.

For properly guided training, we suggest getting a professional guide to help you with your rock climbing skills or going for lessons from a guide service. With the right instructions and efficient training, you’ll be able to learn and be on the right track towards rock climbing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Jake Bryan

    Only a fool wouldn’t work on their weaknesses when it comes to climbing style! Just make a conscious effort to focus on the techniques that you don’t enjoy and that are, subsequently, causing you issues. The best thing is, you’ll see much more improvement by working on your weaknesses rather than trying to improve the techniques that you already excel in. A lot of people seem to complain about progression and yet still have weaknesses that they neglect to work on!

  • Daniel Carraway

    My brother is an avid rock climber and as he always say “practice till you perfect it,” which makes a lot of sense. When you’re hanging by a cord hundreds of feet above ground, you can’t make a mistake. My brother’s team even record their climb using a camcorder/cam so they can review their mistakes and rectify these. And he even has his hangboard at home where he practice even more – that’s commitment for you! So, you can deduce who helped me with my reviews on hangboards, lol!
    http://myoutdoorslife.com/gear/climbing/best-hangboard.html

  • Janet Wilder

    Practice is essential for any rock climber, no matter how good they are. The best way to learn is through experience, so when you’re practicing make a point to try different ascents and switch up the courses that you go to. And when you are finally out, take the time to plan, don’t just jump into it. For me, it is just as important to plan where I’m going to try and go, as well as contingencies for how to get there, as it is being able to execute once I’m up there. The most important thing though, is to have fun!

  • Daniel Carraway

    Before my brother got serious with his rock climbing pursuit, he enrolled in an indoor wall/rock climbing gym where he met the most professional trainer. I think learning the proper technique from the very start is crucial. A solid foundation is key. 🙂

  • Rebecca Jones

    I absolutely love rock climbing! But I’ve never done it without a harness and only do small rocks outside. I watched a lot of people do some climbing at the Joshua Tree National Park. Looked amazingly fun. I might have to be a little more adventurous.

  • Daniel Carraway

    There are indoor rock climbing gyms that you can also go to and practice. Most are inexpensive and provides great tutelage. There are professionals who will teach you the proper techniques and tips which can save your life. You can also meet fellow rock climbing enthusiasts who can make the activity more fun. Move at your own pace and don’t forget to go out of your comfort zone. 🙂

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