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Everything You Need to Get Started with Indoor Rock Climbing

A couple indoor rock climbing.
wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Rock climbing is accessible to virtually anyone, and it can be done anywhere in the world. It requires a minimal investment to get started, but it’s a fun way to get active either by yourself or with friends and family.

If you’re ready to take your first steps into this world, this guide to indoor rock climbing is for you. 

Climbing Walls 

While outdoor rock climbing might seem like the most exciting version of this engaging sport, there’s much more to it than meets the eye. Aside from being physically and mentally demanding, it also involves a few limitations, such as location, weather, and the availability of a climbing partner. This is why it’s recommended that beginners start on an indoor wall. In this setting, you can independently work on your technique and learn about the risks involved without having to travel too far. 

Most climbing gyms offer introductory courses for people of all ages and provide you with a certificate of completion once you master all the basics. At certain walls, they take experience very seriously and only allow entry to people who have taken the course or who can prove a certain degree of expertise.

Thus, indoor rock climbing is as practical as it is convenient. Given its recent rise in popularity, indoor walls are now in most cities, and many offer different walls and the gear to practice the most common styles of climbing: bouldering, top-rope, and lead.

Climbing Styles 

Young woman indoor climbing.
Poprotskiy Alexey/Shutterstock

There are three main styles of climbing that can be done both indoors and outdoors, and they differ in gear and skill requirements.  

Bouldering 

Although just as demanding as the other disciplines, this is the most accessible form of rock climbing and the most popular with novice climbers. Bouldering involves low walls with intricate routes that call for good technique, a solid grip, and plenty of strength, as you navigate from the first hold to the last. Thick crash pads are located on the floor along the wall as protection in case of a fall. In some gyms, they require that you have a spotter, which is a person there to prevent you from falling headfirst. 

Like every other style of climbing, the routes are graded according to their level of difficulty. Every new grade requires an increasing amount of core and finger strength, as well as flexibility, rendering this discipline much more challenging than it might seem at first.

Bouldering only requires footwear and a bit of chalk to prevent sweaty hands from slipping from the holds. It’s a great training option for those who are afraid of heights or those who want to build upper body strength and skills.

Top-Rope Climbing

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