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Rock climbing tips for beginners


Basic Moves

If you think rock climbing is intuitive and anyone can do it and all you need is the gear, then you've got another thing coming. The technique behind propelling your body up the rock does not come easily to most people. So, don't get frustrated when you struggle up a face that your experienced climber buddy says is an easy 5.9 route. Knowing a few basic rules of thumb will help you achieve the balance, range of motion, and stamina needed for basic climbing. Here are a few tips:

Use Your Legs!

Kelsey using her legs on Headstone Rock, Joshua Tree

Those gambs you just used to stand up and get a drink of water are by far the strongest muscles in your body, so you really should use them. A good way to think of it is using your arms as a fulcrum point and your legs as pistons that propel your body upward. Just think how much easier it is to stand up than to do a pull-up. If you find yourself stuck on a climb, look DOWN and try to figure a way to move your feet up first. Often new climbers will focus only on their arms while getting frustrated and tired, not even noticing an awesome and easy foothold that would help them move past a tricky section. Also, the soles of climbing shoes are probably far stickier than you think. A small protrusion from the rock that looks minuscule may be a very good foot hold if you trust it and apply pressure into the rock as you stand. If you are having trouble getting accustomed to tiny footholds, it helps to do a low traverse along a wall and practice using footholds that you think will not work - chances are you will be able to use tiny crystals or ledges to work your way across the traverse. If you are climbing in a gym, work on traversing around the gym wall for a low-stress practice on hand and foot placements.

The climber in the photo has the right idea: "Get my feet high so I can reach better holds." A move like the one the climber is executing tends to feel less intuitive because it involves looking for footholds first, rather than hand holds. When it comes to technique, however, this climber has got it: her quads are much stronger than her biceps, and that foothold is probably more secure than anything she can grasp with her hands at this point.

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