Before you begin on your journey, choose the type of climbing. There are different types of climbing that may require different gears and training sessions. Let me share my guide to rock climbing techniques with you, and help you get the best experience out of climbing.
One of the most popular rock climbing sport would be indoor climbing. It is non-weather-dependent, so can be done any time. Climbing indoors is fun and safer, which makes it a great option for beginners. You’ll be able to rent your own gear before starting rock climbing.
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. You’ll be able to work on your strength while bouldering, and training is important.
Outdoor climbing is regarded as the most challenging type of rock climbing. Be ready for a trip down the rocks and boulders while using quick-draws 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, I’ve got a few tips on rock climbing outdoors to help guide you.
These tips and tricks will guide you on your way to rock climbing, so just start planning on your next rock climbing adventure as you’ll be all set up after reading this.
Rock Climbing Techniques
Rock climbing needs lots of training to perfect your moves, and in time you’ll get more skilled and everything would be easier and more fun.
Keep in mind that climbing indoors is very different than climbing outdoors, as you face completely different hazards in the great outdoors. So don’t think you are ready to go outdoor rock climbing just yet.
I recommend taking experienced climbers with you to show you the ropes, and how things are done.
Follow these rock climbing techniques, and make sure you keep training before going on more dangerous rock climbing adventures.
Finding your climbing route
Always check if the rope is twisted or not properly set, before you start to climb. Set the top rope on the end of the route before you start climbing.
Start by looking up for the easiest route to climb. Don’t risk jumping for a harder route and focus on being slow and steady. One step at a time, literally, and don’t rush.
Focus on your feet with every step you make. I 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 your arms will get tired more easily. Take your time to find your route. Rushing will lead to a quick end of the fun adventure.
The easiest route will provide the best holds for your hands, allowing you to take your time to climb at your own pace.
Climbing routes are generally marked according to their difficulty. The easier routes are the ones labelled 5.4 or 5.5, which are good for beginner climbers.
Take an experienced rock climber with you
I 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 help you see where the holds are and point them out, if you’re not seeing them.
They can offer 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. 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!
Re-chalk your hands every now and again, the chalk gets smudged on rocks, and you have 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.
However, don’t wait too long to start again, as cold muscles are difficult to work with on your climb.
Learning the back-step
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, get some ideas here to make sure you do it properly.
The back-step is the most important step, and is not too difficult to master. It’s 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. Practice the back-step till you get it right.
Learn how to get hold of it
Step up with one foot while trying to grab a new hold with the matching hand. 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. The best way would be to start with your legs, not your arms.
Nothing will help your climb if you’re not wearing the right shoes. You have to make sure that the shoes you’re wearing are comfortable and lightweight. They make the real difference in your rock climbing.
Get a pair of loose-fitting shoes that are comfortable for your feet when climbing, and don’t go for shoes that are too tight.
Finding your climbing style
There’s no specific right way to rock climbing. I encourage you to find the right climbing technique that suits you better.
Experts might try to teach beginners what the best way of climbing is. I suggest you find the right technique that feels the best to you. To be able to learn how to climb the right way and dynamically, finding your own climbing style is the solution.
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. Whatever style works for you is the one you should follow.
Careful with injuries
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.
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 seriously life threatening.
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.
Gearing Up Is the Next Step
Get to know your gear well before starting to rock climb. You’ll need comfortable and lightweight clothing that is breathable and helps with 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. And 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.
To make choosing easier, see my experts reviews of the best climbing gear for more insight.
Training Is Necessary
Training is recommended when it comes to rock climbing. We’ve got to be well-prepared and ready before heading out on a real rock climbing journey. Check out my techniques on how to climb a rope for more information.
Practice these few exercises such as pull-ups, pull-aparts, weight-lifts and benchmark before getting started with rock climbing. They give you good energy and strength for rock climbing. Retractions and protractions, with a repetition of both exercises 15 times each time, help too.
After being very familiar with these exercises and before actually climbing outdoors, I 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. Check out my article on knots to have a better understanding.
Dangerous Mistakes that You Should Avoid
Don’t forget to put on the right gear or tying your rope. Before getting started in this sport, ensure that your helmet is clipped on and fits properly, and that the harness closures are double-backed.
The rope should be tied correctly through a device, known as a ‘belay’ device, and 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. Read my informative article on how to choose the best belay device to give you more options.
What is the most important skill in rock climbing?
The most important skill in rock climbing is belaying and it is critical for keeping you safe.
When out climbing with a partner, which is highly recommended, you need to keep each other safe. Belaying is when you keep tension to the rope for every step your partner makes. This will ensure they will not get injured if they slip and fall.
It is a good idea to practice belaying in the gym before actually going climbing. The safe environment of the gym will make sure you don’t get hurt. So train as much as you need till you do it right.
How often should beginners rock climb?
Beginners should go rock climbing no more than three times a week, as it can be very strenuous on your body, and your muscles need to get used to these types of movement.
You should be very cautious and make sure that your second day on is always a very light, endurance-based day. Your muscles will thank me later.
Is rock climbing good for weight loss?
Rock climbing is good for weight loss. Like any other sport that keeps your body active, rock climbing will help you lose some weight if you need too.
Make sure you check with your doctor first if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, to see if it’s safe for you. This kind of exercise burns a lot more calories throughout the day, but it is also very difficult on your body, especially in the beginning.
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, like most activities, it is a real adventure when you’ve stepped outside to experience it.
For properly guided training, I 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.
Let me know how your first rock climbing experience went. If you follow these rock climbing techniques you’ll have no trouble enjoying every moment doing it.
Daniel 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.
6 thoughts on “Rock Climbing Techniques Guide”
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!
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!
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!
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. 🙂
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.
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. 🙂