If you classify yourself as a beginner in the world of mountain or rock climbing, it is important that you educate yourself on the proper gear necessary to have a successful and safe climb.
Basic Safety Gear
The first thing you will need is a climbing helmet. A helmet is very important for rock climbing. They are necessary to protect your head from falling objects such as rocks or climbing gear (it happens!). They come in a variety of prices based on weight or other features but all provide the same level of protection. A very highly rated option is the Petzl Elios.
Another key piece to add to your climbing equipment checklist is a harness. The harness is worn to help catch you if you fall off of the rock, or while you are descending. Many harnesses also have attachment points for storing gear while you climb. Be sure you know where to tie the rope and where not to, as doing this wrong can result in injury or death. A very popular harness, that is comfortable and has good options for gear storage is the Black Diamond Men’s Momentum AL Harness or Women’s Primrose AL Harness which comes in four sizes for your waist. This harness fits for the beginning or advanced climber.
Probably the most important climbing gear are the rock climbing shoes. While the helmet and harness are important for safety, the differences from one to the next are not as significant as the differences between shoes. Shoes make all the difference in climbing. More advanced climbers will spend a great deal of time and money picking out climbing shoes that suit their style best.
As a beginner, the exact specifics of the shoes are not as important. The most important thing is that they fit well and open the doors to climbs that would be much harder in sneakers or hiking boots. You want a climbing shoe that has a sticky sole to give you Spiderman-like hold on walls. The sole should be sturdy enough to allow you to perch into wall cracks. A highly rated and popular brand of climbing shoe is the Evolv Defy.
A great beginner’s shoe that is also at home on harder climbs is the Evolv Defy Lace. These shoes are comfortable for long term wear, very versatile, and have a slightly asymmetrical last for performance. The sole is made of TRAX high friction rubber for great grip and feel. Weighing in at just 9.1 ounces, it is perfect if you are dangling off the side of a rock. Your feet won’t feel weighted down.
Now that you have the essentials, you can begin to learn the skills for rock climbing. A great place to start is your local rock gym. At a climbing gym you can learn some technique for climbing efficiently, and also how to tie into your harness and what knots to use. You will learn to belay and relax while finding holds on routes up gym walls, building your strength and skill. You can also check out training gear like Metolius boards and grip exercisers. Once you have gained some experience, you can head outside to a local climbing area and find a climbing school to take your new sport to the next level.