7 Tips to Take Your Gym Climbing Outdoors!
Getting tired of the plastic? While gym climbing is great fun, especially with how much socialising you can do, eventually a lot of climbers want to take it outdoors!
Of course, climbing indoors is a good way to stay fit and climb when it rains, but let’s just say it:
You want to go ROCK climbing!
So here are the most important tips you need to remember and master to make your transition to climbing outdoors smooth and safe.
1 - Learn to Build Anchors
Being able to build anchors is a fundamental skill that will carry through in all climbing styles. I've climbed rock, ice, snow, choss, and rainforest vegetation, and in all of those situations, anchor building is key to being safe. Start by learning how to set up a top rope. Learn how to clean routes and abseil down single pitch climbs. Learn how to make anchors from webbing and slings. And then learn how to do it all blindfolded!
But where do I learn these you may ask? Read on!
Sometimes, you gotta work with whats available! Knowing all your knots, methods and options is key!
2 - Go With Someone Experienced!
Mentorships in both the official and unofficial sense is the most common way we all started climbing and how most people will continue to do so.
Find someone experienced and get them to show you! Remember to be honest in your abilities and the other persons as well. There is a type of climber that talks a lot but has little skill to show for it! Avoid these people like falling rocks!
Want some tips on exactly HOW to get people to share this knowledge? Read this post right HERE!
3 - Learn About the Hazards of Outdoor Climbing
While rock climbing is relatively safe, like doing anything adventurous, it’s important to know what the hazards are. Oftentimes, coming from indoor climbing to outdoor, you can easily forget that you are no longer in a safe, controlled environment.
So what should you be aware of?
► Rockfall is a ever present danger at all outdoor crags. These can be dislodged by climbers on the wall or up above. I’ve been hit by 3 rocks in the head which thankfully did no damage thanks to my helmet. All were released by other climbers or hikers.
► No longer in the controlled indoor environment, belaying, abseiling, rope management and fixed gear (bolts and hand lines) are all your responsibility now. Check them before commiting!
4 - Wear a Helmet!
Not wearing a helmet is about the stupidest thing you can do. Your brain is the most important part of you, so protect it! Find a helmet that you enjoy wearing, that way you will always wear it. Remember, you can’t predict when a rock will fall, and no matter how safe it appears to be, it can happen!
Need more convincing? Check out these stories:
5 - Communicate Correctly!
Having the right calls for when you want to be lowered or be on belay is crucial. Failure to communicate correctly has lead to a loss of life in many instances, and all were easily preventable.
Always double check your calls before starting, especially when climbing with new partners. And avoid the word ‘safe’. There is no reason to use it. It can sound like ‘take’ and vice versa. Use ‘off belay’ when you want to be taken off belay, and if you are threading through the anchors to be lowered, don’t say anything so the person keeps you on belay and is attentive. Then just ask to be lowered when ready.
Getting communication right is important!
6 - Outdoors Is Much Harder Than You Think!
Going from indoor to outdoor can be a bit of a shock. The holds are all the same colour, and you’ll acknowledge route finding is actually a skill. Suddenly, the big open spaces make you feel small as well. This can make it a lot harder than indoor climbing.
So when you first start, take it easy and hop on grades that are lower than what you do in the gym. Trust me on this. You’ll quickly work up to higher grades with practice and patience.
7 - Go as Much as You Can
To consolidate all the above, try to go regularly. A good start is every weekend for a few months but do what you can with your available time. The more you do it, the better you get and the more experience you gain.
Getting outdoors to rock climb is exciting and well worth the effort. You’ll get amazing views, fresh air and spend time having adventures.
So, are you ready to make the move from plastic to rock?