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Rock Climbing Basics: Getting Started

Posted by Lauren Hodges on Nov 5, 2022 12:36:23 PM

Are your kids ready for an exciting new challenge that will leave them with great memories for years to come and find new ways to challenge themselves? Then rock climbing is the perfect activity for them. Climbing challenges participants mentally and physically while instilling confidence and fostering problem-solving skills. It also has a host of physical benefits like increased strength, balance, and coordination, not to mention it's a ton of fun!

You might think that rock climbing is something only adults can enjoy or that you will need special equipment and specialist instructors to make it work. Fortunately, none of that is true! Read on for everything there is to know about introducing this great activity.

rock climbing basics: getting started

What is Rock Climbing?

Rock climbing is a sport that involves scaling rock faces or artificial indoor walls using special climbing equipment. Climbing is a broad term that can encompass everything from bouldering to indoor climbing to sport climbing and mountaineering (outdoor climbing on high walls). In this article, we'll be focusing on the basics of rock climbing. An introduction if you will to help you get a feel for what to expect.

Equipment Your Child will Need

  • Climbing Shoes - The first thing your kid will need is a pair of rock climbing shoes. These are designed with a snug, synthetic upper that hugs the foot and helps you stick to the wall. They also have a rough, rubber sole for climbing. Make sure to get a pair that fit properly. Wearing shoes that are too big will only hinder your kids' progress.
  • Harness - The next item is a rock climbing harness. A harness is a piece of gear that is designed to hold you to the wall and keep you safe. Most kid's harnesses are designed to sit low on the hips and have a smaller width so they can fit smaller climbers. Make sure your kid is wearing the harness on their hips and not their waist, or they run the risk of the harness not holding them properly. At indoor climbing gyms, you can usually rent this piece of equipment, but for outdoor free climbing or climbing with an instructor, you’ll likely need to purchase your own.
  • Belay Device - You will also need a belay device. A belay device is a piece of climbing gear used to control the rope while someone climbs. This is used in tandem with a harness. You'll use a belay device to control the rope should someone be climbing. This includes a locking mechanism that prevents the rope from slipping and dropping the climber. You can also rent this piece at indoor gyms, but again, outdoor climbing requires your own!
  • Climbing Rope - You will also need a climbing rope. The rope is used to tie into the harness and to lower someone down from the climbing wall if need be. This can be rented at indoor gyms as well.

The Benefits of Rock Climbing for kids

  • Challenge - One key benefit of rock climbing for kids is the challenge. Kids want to constantly push themselves and challenge themselves in new ways. Climbing requires kids to use all of their muscles, work together in concert, and push their mental and physical boundaries.
  • Physical/Mental Benefits - Climbing provides kids with a slew of physical benefits like improving strength and coordination. It also helps improve mental health by increasing their confidence, problem-solving skills, and ability to deal with stress.
  • Self-Actualization - A key benefit of rock climbing for kids is self-actualization. This refers to the process of self-discovery and transformation. When kids climb, they push themselves and discover new things about themselves.
  • Social Outlet - Another key benefit of rock climbing for kids is its social outlet. Climbing is a sport that can be done either indoors or outdoors. This means kids have the opportunity to climb with friends, make new friends, and do something they love with others.

Tips for Getting Started

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  • Find a Gym - The first thing you will want to do is find a rock climbing gym. They’re found across the country and offer classes for kids and teens, as well as open climbing times during the week. The great thing about these gyms is that they offer a safe indoor climbing environment. This allows beginners to get comfortable with the sport in an environment where they’re less likely to get hurt and may even be supervised by the pros.
  • Sign Up for a Class - Once you find a gym, sign your kids up for a beginners class. Rock climbing gyms and indoor climbing facilities offer classes for kids and teens. These classes are a great way to get your kids comfortable with climbing and allow the instructors to give them tips and tricks to help them progress.

  • Find a Buddy - Kids climb better and more confidently with a buddy. This is a great way to make new friends and have fun while climbing. They’ll get to bond and push each other to do their absolute best!

Important Safety Facts

Have Proper Footwear - Climbing shoes are crucial when it comes to protecting your feet while climbing. You don't need expensive, fancy shoes to get started. Just make sure they are synthetic and have a sticky rubber sole.

Follow the Rules Rock climbing rules are in place for a reason, so make sure you and your kids follow them. This includes making sure your kids are tied in correctly, wearing the proper climbing attire, and respecting their fellow climbers.

Stay Hydrated - Kids climbing is a strenuous activity that can make them sweat. Make sure kids drink plenty of water before, during, and after climbing to stay hydrated and healthy.

Learn Self-Rescue - A vital safety fact for kids to rock climb is learning self-rescue. This is a technique where climbers can safely lower themselves down from a wall if they need to or if they get injured.

Final Thoughts

Rock climbing fundamentals are essential for anyone looking to join the sport. Climbing helps kids learn how to balance themselves and use their bodies in ways their otherwise wouldn’t. It is important to note that children should only be allowed to climb on boulders once they have been certified by an instructor or climbing guide. This will help them get the most out of their experience and prevent injuries.

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Topics: Level 1, rock climbing

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