Climbing as a sporting discipline can take on many guises. From low-level bouldering where belays and ropes aren’t needed and the climber can simply jump back down to the ground to full-scale mountain expeditions at high altitude – climbing can be as dangerous and tough both mentally and physically, as you want it to be.
Whichever form your climbing takes, however, the common denominator to all types is that you need to adopt a respectful attitude as the risks involved in all forms of climbing are very real.
One of the biggest advantages it has over some other adventure sports lies in its freedom. There are no stringent rules, winners or losers or referees and a lot of the pleasure simply lies in the challenges you’ll face along with the opportunity to experience the outdoors from an entirely unique perspective.
Unless you’re in competition, there are no opposing teams in climbing and much of the fun and adventure lies within a group of like-minded individuals all striving together to achieve a common goal.
Joining a Climbing Club
One of the best ways to get started in climbing is to join a climbing club. Even if you live in the city or in an area where there are no hills and mountains around, you’re certain to find a club near to where you live. Often, you’re able to combine practising your skills and techniques within an indoor facility containing a rock climbing wall, for example, but that will usually be combined with weekend trips away to the mountains where you can put your skills to the test.
A climbing club will also give you the opportunity to meet new friends who all share your interest, many of whom will be experienced climbers who can teach you new techniques, pass on their experience and can answer any of your questions should you need any advice.
Joining a club is also useful as many of them have affiliations with gear providers so you can often purchase all your climbing gear at discount prices.
An indoor climbing wall, which you will usually have access to if you join a club, is very useful if you are starting out. Not only will it enable you to discover whether or not climbing is for you, there will be access to training courses to teach you the basics in order to prepare you for your first climbing expedition or trip. These will usually include things like basic safety, how to tie basic knots, how to wear a harness safely and how to belay. It is not, however, compulsory to have any formal training before you go climbing. Nevertheless, it is highly recommended as climbing, by its inherent nature, is not for the faint-hearted.
The dangers and risks that go with the activity should never be under-estimated and no matter how experienced a climber is, even the most prolific will tell you that the danger and risks are never far away even if you’ve been climbing for many years. But for most climbers, it’s those aspects which make the sport what it is.
It is, however, much more than just a sport to some. It can become a way of life and, if practised safely and correctly and with respect for the environment in which it is performed, it can provide you with many years of exhilarating experiences that most people can only dream of.