I want to start rock climbing!

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I want to start rock climbing!

Postby hatchmaster » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:10 pm

I live in Englewood CO and I really want to start rock climbing. I did a little when I was younger, all indoors.

To start I think i need a harness, shoes, chalk bag, chalk, and a belay device. Oh and some one to belay me at the gym.
Any suggestions on begginer gear?

Should I try and start out in gyms? Any good gym reccomendations in the Denver area?

Any good books I should be reading?
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Re: I want to start rock climbing!

Postby BIO_KNEE » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:49 pm

If you want to hit a climbing gym I would suggest Thrill Seekers. If you want to get out on some real rock then I would say go get a copy of North Table Mountain, Rock climbs at Golden Cliffs. Then make your way to Golden and enjoy. Also you can PM if you want to go climb some time, I go up 2-3 times a week. As for the gear you will need, try The Bent Gate or Wilderness Exchange Unlimited. They are the best (in my opinion) for the Denver area. Have fun and be safe. :D
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Re: I want to start rock climbing!

Postby davebobk47 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:54 pm

If you can find someone that climbs the only real gear you need to start is a harness and shoes although I would recommend picking up one carabiner and an ATC to start. Once you get more into it just learn from other climbers what you need and pick up things on sale over time. The one real big purchase (unless you start doing trad) is a rope.
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Re: I want to start rock climbing!

Postby Steve Climber » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:13 pm

I picked up a basic Mammut harness for around 45-50 bucks at REI. Nothing fancy, but I'm not carrying massive racks up anything, so the minimal loops are fine. I also have some Mad Rock "Flash" shoes that I LOVE for indoor...haven't used them much outdoor, but they seem to stick pretty well. Rockn' and Jamn' has a couple locations, one up north and one down south. Never been to South, but North is pretty decent, with several auto-belays so you can climb solo if needed.
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Re: I want to start rock climbing!

Postby rickinco123 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:28 pm

You are in probably the best place in the world to learn trad. The front range is littered with easy to moderate ( 5.2-5.9 ) multipitch routes and most of them take you somewhere interesting ( think top of a flatiron ). For this you will need a webbing sling or personal anchor and 4 locking carabiners in addition to what others have said above.

Since you are on 14ers.com my guess would be that trad is what you want to do. Alpine is a subset of trad.

The fastest way to get started would be to hire and AMGA guide. It may seem expensive at first but you will learn from someone who is competent and you will learn more in a one on one session then you would in a class setting. I am definitely not one... so no self promotion $ here.
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Re: I want to start rock climbing!

Postby BaronVonBergschrund » Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:06 pm

Baron Von Bergschrund's Guide on Beginning Rock Climbing

1. Buy a pair of climbing shoes. Even if you quit climbing later this is an important step, because it helps keep the climbing shoe companies afloat financially and producing quality shoes for the rest of us. If beginners never bought shoes we'd be paying $200 a pair (like TC Pros, I guess).

Get a pair that fit your foot, are comfortable to stand in for short periods of time and are relatively inexpensive. At this point you don't need a high performance shoe that costs a lot of money, because likely you will shred them anyway during the next step. Don't buy a pair that curl your toes or that you can't stand up in. They should fit snugly. You won't want to hike miles in them, but you shouldn't be in pain after a short climbing session. Buy from a local climbing shop, that's a nice thing to do. If you are over the age of 50 you can wear socks with your shoes.

If you absolutely cannot buy a pair of shoes, a pair of street shoes with a more rigid sole will help your climbing. Typical basketball shoes have poor edging qualities and their edges will roll easily. Indoor football shoes have nice edges, and some hipster Pumas have a stiffer edging platform (around the toe and ball of your foot) than other types of athletic shoes.

2. Find a climbing gym or indoor climbing wall nearby. Buy a month's membership during a time what you do not have any other pressing obligations (births, deaths, marriages or vacations planned). Take the introductory class on how to belay (BUS method preferred: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-a0FLqwPL8) and get certified to climb there. If you have several in your area, shop around for the best location, amenities, etc. Many town recreation centers also have climbing walls, if you have a family it might be nice to get a membership there. Whatever you do, make an effort to put in a month's effort at climbing. You should go a few times a week. Having autobelay devices helps, since you can go alone or at odd times.

3. Work on your climbing technique. Concentrate on footwork and smooth movements. Climb a lot of routes and use your head to think through the movements, don't use brute strength to force your way through the climb. Learning to rest and plan your movement will go a long way to being able to climb at a consistent grade. Once you are comfortable with belay techniques, climbing somewhat smoothly and consistently and used to the climbing gym environment, it's time to find your indoor partner.

4. Spot the loner. Find the guy who is bouldering at very low grades (and falling) or bouldering while wearing a harness. This indicates a beginner that is also climbing at the gym alone. They might also be just gaping at the bouldering problems without actually climbing. The shirtless guy who is bouldering with the chalk bucket doesn't want to toprope 5.7s with you, so don't bother asking him. Another useful trick is to find a party of three and offer to belay. A climber who is always using the autobelays might also want to toprope climbs with you. After you have successfully spotted the loner, take advantage of the toprope time to climb routes and work on your climbing technique. Soon you should be able to snag a loner each visit to the gym, or maybe even find an indoor partner that wants to meet you at the gym to climb.

Note: If you are an attractive female, you can skip this step. Show up at the climbing gym in snug athletic shorts and a sports bra and you can have your choice of male indoor climbing partners. The most desparate ones will likely let you climb more, since that gives them the greatest view of your assets.

5. Get your essential gear. If you have made it past one month of climbing and want to continue, congratulations! It's time to go shopping! You are now in the market for a harness, belay device, locking carabiner and chalk bag. If you are forced to rent these items for your first month it may be more cost effective to buy these along with your shoes, but some recreation centers or gyms loan these items out for free.

An inexpensive all-around harness is your best bet, something like a Black Diamond Momentum or Metolius Safe-Tech. You need to buy this in person so it fits correctly, if you hang in the harness and it pinches or has too much room, it is not for you. A standard harness with one double-back buckle and non-adjustable leg loops is best for starting to rock climb indoors. Don't let people convince you to buy an alpine harness, you aren't climbing any alpine routes soon. By the time you get to that point you'll have a few harnesses anyway. If you are a mutant or speed skater, you might have to get a harness with adjustable leg loops to accomodate your freakishly large thighs.

For a belay device buy a Black Diamond ATC-Guide or Petzl Reverso3. You can thank me later for not ever having to buy another belay device again. For a belay carabiner any large, round-stock locking screwgate carabiner will do. A Petzl William screwgate is a good belay carabiner. Buy whatever chalk bag matches your underwear, that way if you rip a seam your belayer won't notice.

6. Improve your technique. Your goal in this phase is to be able to consistently climb several 5.8 routes without falling and with decent technique. You should be using good footwork and body position and still have some energy left over. This stage may last for a few months, but once you are feeling good about your climbing ability, it's time to go get humbled outdoors.

7a. Hire a guide. AMGA certified. This is the easy but expensive way to move your climbing career to the next step. A guide will basically take it from this step forwards, and you can stop reading here. After climbing with the guide several times, you should have enough information to move on your own.

7b. Get an outdoor climbing mentor.

Note: Again, attractive females will not have to actually do this step, as it is usually done for you in step 4. The important thing to remember is to choose the mentor wisely. The most attractive male might not be the one who should be a mentor. You may have to lower your standards a bit to find the most technically skilled suitor, or continue with the selection process as outlined below.

This is probably one of the most critical steps to get right to quickly and safely transition outside. Good outdoor climbing mentors are rare and seldom take on new apprentices without incentives. The best incentive is beer, good beer, and lots of it. Your mentor will be very happy to teach you how to climb outside in exchange for gas money, beer, food, beer and the occasional piece of gear. And beer.

A good way to spot a good climbing mentor in the gym is to examine their age, their gear and the condition of their gear. If they are climbing in a gym with high-top climbing shoes, age appears to be over 50 and a harness that is older than Hannah Montana, they might be a good mentor. If they have a prusik cord, extra webbing and a bail ring hanging from the back of their harness, they would be an excellent outdoor climbing mentor. Do not ask anyone with shiny new gear to take you outside unless they are sponsored.

The key is to get a mentor that will impart the safest climbing methods to you while being able to put up with your new climber questions and non-experience. They should have a lot of years of climbing under their belt, but not be climbing very hard routes. If the mentor is climbing hard routes, they will not want to put up with you on a 5.8, and you will quickly lose your mentor. Old mentors are best. They don't climb hard but still know how to tie an Italian hitch, escape the belay and sling a rigid Friend for horizontals.

Once you have identified your outdoor climbing mentor, ask questions to get them to tell you stories of their past climbing exploits. This will begin to form the mentor-apprentice bond. Stories about local climbing areas are best, and after a few rousing rounds of climbing tales, you should start to mention the fact that "boy, I wish I could do something like that someday!" This will set the hook firmly in the cheek of the mentor. If you have the means to buy a climbing rope, be sure and let that fact drop during conversation. "I just bought this new rope and I don't even climb outside! Isn't that silly!" This is an excellent tactic.

As in step 7a, once you have an outdoor climbing mentor, you are on your way to climbing outside. After climbing with the mentor several times, you should be able to establish partnerships with other climbers to continue your education in outdoor rock climbing.


I like the Mountaineer's Press books:
Baron Von Bergschrund
Remember, remember, the third of December.
Sharing wisdom on Rock Climbing, Climbing Shoes, Rappelling, Layering, Eddie Bauer, Pants, Helmets, Ropes, Ice Axes, Tri-Cams, Carabiners
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Re: I want to start rock climbing!

Postby BAUMGARA » Fri Oct 02, 2009 6:12 am

BaronVonBergschrund wrote:Note: If you are an attractive female, you can skip this step. Show up at the climbing gym in snug athletic shorts and a sports bra and you can have your choice of male indoor climbing partners. The most desparate ones will likely let you climb more, since that gives them the greatest view of your assets.

I have no idea what you're talking about. :P
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Re: I want to start rock climbing!

Postby pnolans » Fri Oct 02, 2009 6:32 am

+1 Damn... busted
"Hey Queen Isabella,
stay away from that fella
He'll just get you into trouble, you know"
Common Sense John Prine
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Re: I want to start rock climbing!

Postby BIO_KNEE » Fri Oct 02, 2009 7:08 am

rickinco123 wrote:The fastest way to get started would be to hire and AMGA guide. It may seem expensive at first but you will learn from someone who is competent and you will learn more in a one on one session then you would in a class setting. I am definitely not one... so no self promotion $ here.

Not to be the self promoting type but I am in the process of getting my AMGA rock guide certification. Part of the process between exams is to take others on mock guided tours. That being said I would be more then happy to take anyone who would like to learn the basics of single and multi pitch rock climbing. Just keep in mind I AM NOT A GUIDE AT THIS POINT IN TIME. However I still am more then willing to help teach any one if they would be interested. And obviously it would be totally free as I am not employed by a guide service. If you are interested please feel free to PM me. Again however you chose to go about learning the basics, be safe and respectful of the crags you visit. Have fun too! :D

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Re: I want to start rock climbing!

Postby burningthebushes » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:13 am

Hire an AMGA guide? I hope your made of money! Just go climb, period! Buy a pair of shoes (that fit), and head for the hills. I personally don't like plastic (the gym) unless it's too cold/wet outside, but it's a good tool. Hit mountainproject.com and find a few good spots where you can watch others climb and join in (don't be shy, we all have to start some time). Bottom line is go climb, whereever, with whoever, etc. Go do it!
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Re: I want to start rock climbing!

Postby skerrane » Fri Oct 02, 2009 9:13 am

I just started myself. I went to rock'n n jam'n in Thornton, but they also have one in Centennial. Great place, nice people and they will rent you the gear til your ready to buy your own stuff. For that I'd recommend Bent Gate in Golden. Again, great people who spent way too much time explaining all the differences to this noob. There are also a couple meetup groups that you can join and find other people. I'm in the same boat looking for people to climb with, so if you ever need someone to be your belay b!tch, let me know.
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Re: I want to start rock climbing!

Postby sstrauss » Fri Oct 02, 2009 9:20 am

The Baron strikes again....That might be the most fantastic post.
"He discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that one's life is so short, and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed." R. Bach

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