Is Rock Climbing Really Hard for Beginners? Guide

No, Rock climbing is not hard for beginners and the reason why is very simple. You can learn how to rock climb with easy levels ranging.

Step by step you will increase the difficulty of the wall you will climb. Without any difficulties you will become good, even if you start from the bottom.

Many people often get discouraged as they feel like it’s not a kind of sport that’s beginner-friendly. And with the challenges that come with it, it’s easy to get disheartened.

So, as many people ask, is rock climbing really hard for newbies? If you’re looking to try your hand at this extreme sport, here are some pieces of information that will surely shed more light on your queries and help you become more confident to give this amazing sport a try.

Rock Climbing Can be Easy for Beginners

The height, the rocks, and the physical strength required often hinder many from trying rock climbing.

Because of what they often see in pictures or in videos, a lot of people feel scared to try this out, thinking they aren’t fit or strong enough for it.

The good news, though, is rock climbing is much like climbing a ladder. Even if you don’t have any experience of rock climbing, you can do it.

Unbeknown to many newbies, rock climbing has several styles and routes to make it a piece of cake even for beginners.

The key here is to start with a route that’s within your comfort zone.

Then, work your way up. You’ll also need to find a good instructor, so you’re able to build a strong foundation of knowledge in the sport.

Additionally, you’ll need to practice – a lot. And speaking of honing your skills, here are some more pieces of information to start your rock climbing journey.

Where Should you Start Rock Climbing?

These days, learning more about rock climbing and improving your skills is much easier as you have a wide range of places to choose from. However, with countless spots in the USA alone, it can be quite confusing where to start.

Indoor Rock Climbing

Like any other sport, rock climbing also has its risks. But, if you want to play it safe, you can start by practicing in an indoor rock climbing facility first.

Here, you’ll have an instructor who can closely monitor you in a much safer environment.  Additionally, this will also help you not feel overwhelmed by the heights once you try outdoor rock climbing.

If you’re feeling fearless and you think you’re already well-prepared for outdoor rock climbing, here are some places you can try out that are beginner-friendly.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree is famous for its hiking and horse trails. But, it’s also a good place to try your hand at rock climbing. With 8,000 climbing routes to offer, you’ll surely find a route that’s in your comfort zone. Plus, you’ll enjoy the view from the top of its Lizard’s hangout.

Red River Gorge, Kentucky

Red River Gorge is known as one of the best rock-climbing destinations located in the south. Here, you have 370 routes to enjoy. To start, you can on its Forgive Me Amy route that’s 50 feet high.

Don’t worry if you need to fuel up. The place is famous for Miguel’s Pizza, which will fill you with delicious food after your climb.

Smith Rock, Oregon

If you want more options to choose from, consider going to Smith Rock. Unlike Joshua Tree and Red River Gorce, this place has more than 1,500 routes to offer. Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, this place surely has a route for you to enjoy.

If you want to take it easy, you can simply start with the Kindergarten Crack. But, if you want more challenge, the Double Time route is the one you should go for.

There are still far more places to visit and start your rock climbing journey. For a quick guide if it’s within your comfort zone, here’s something to learn about the rating systems of rock walls.

Difficulty Rating Systems of Rock Walls

Rock walls are actually evaluated for climbers to understand and compare different climbs. This way, you’ll know if it’s for beginners, intermediate, or pros.

There are two grading systems used for climbing: the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) and French.

For the YDS, 5.2 to 5.9 are perfect for beginners. Meanwhile, 5.10a to 5.11d is for intermediate climbers. For the advanced, climbs between 5.12a and 5.13d are the ones for you. And if you’re a pro, 5.14a to 5.15c is for you.

For the French rating system, 1 to 6a climbs are for beginners. Intermediate climbers can enjoy rock walls that are between 6a+ and 7a+. Meanwhile, 7b to 8b is for advanced climbers and 8b+ to 9b+ is for the pros.

Be Ready Physically

Like any other sport, rock climbing can be physically challenging at first, especially if you’re the type of person who isn’t physically active.

For that reason, it’s important that you prepare yourself physically before any climb, regardless of its difficulty level.

By doing so, you can keep cramps and other issues at bay. Also, this will help you enjoy your climb more.

To prepare, it’s vital that you keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration can affect your climb. It can give you headaches and muscle cramps, make you feel dizzy and fatigued, plus it can deplete your energy fast.

When this happens, you won’t enjoy your climb. Or worse, it might cause you to fall or put you at higher risk of other accidents.

Also, don’t forget to eat. The food you eat is important, especially when you climb as it is where you’ll get the nutrients you’ll need to keep your body strong as you ascend.

So, even the night before you climb, try to refrain from eating junk food as much as you can. Instead, go for healthier options that are also heavy in carbohydrates.

Don’t forget to stretch too. Like in your regular exercise routine, stretching is also vital when you’re climbing. This loosens up your stiff muscles and increases your flexibility, which is important in preventing injuries during your climb.

Furthermore, proper exercise even days before your climb will also help you prepare your body.

Through this, your body won’t be shocked by the strenuous activity and won’t hurt much after the climb. Doing so also helps strengthen your limbs and help you be more flexible.

Where can you do rock climbing?

There are lots of places in the USA alone where you can hone your rock climbing skills. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned rock climber, here are the best places you shouldn’t miss.

The Shawangunk Mountains, New York

Just a few minutes away from New York City, The Shawangunk Mountains offer good rock climbing routes for intermediate to advanced climbers, thanks to its wide variety of cliffs.

The best part of it is that you’ll enjoy a scenic drive to the mountains plus jaw-dropping sights from the top.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, on the other hand, is best for beginners and intermediate climbers. Here, you can put your top-roping and bouldering skills to work.

Some of the best climbing routes to try are Old Rag, Bent Tree Area, and Lil’ Stony Man.

The Crackin, Shield Direct, and Kopley’s Corner are as fun to climb too. Go schedule your climb here during spring or autumn for the best views of the changing foliage.

Front Range, Colorado

Another amazing place to enjoy easy to intermediate climbs is the Front range. Located in Colorado, this place offers a high-quality sandstone climbing experience like no other.

For a good climb, don’t forget to try out The Naked Edge, Wind Ridge, the Yellow Spur, and Calypso.

Spring and summer are the best seasons to visit Friot Range. Be warned, though, thunderstorms in the afternoon are common. So, it’s best to plan your visit in the morning instead.

Moab, Utah

Moab is one of the best places to be regardless of your climbing mastery level. It’s known for its wide variety of climbing routes, so advanced rock climbers will surely love it too.

It’s also a great place for those who are still transitioning from indoor to outdoor rock climbing.

However, be extra careful when it rains. The wet sandstone can compromise your safety.

Go here during the months of March, April, October, or November as there’s less rain expected and the temperatures are comfortable enough to enjoy the climb.

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Rock climbing during the winter season can be more challenging. If you’re not up for such challenge and want a place with more comfortable weather, don’t miss out on Red Rock Canyon.

Located in Nevada, this place also has numerous climbing routes to offer for different mastery levels. Like Moab in Utah, Red Rock Canyon can accommodate beginners and even advanced climbers.

The best part of it is that it has close proximity to the city.

The best place to go here is during spring or fall as the temperatures are the most comfortable for a climb.

But, if you don’t mind the weather, it’s open all year round. Be warned, though, that the summer heat can start to climb up after 11 AM.

At first glance, climbing may seem challenging for most people that it can stop you from trying it out. But, don’t be scared.

There are plenty of places in the USA alone that you can enjoy even if you’re a newbie.

About David Miller

Passionnate about extreme sports since a young age, I started my journey with brazilian Jiu Jitsu and skydiving. After 2000 jumps, I’m now a professionnel skydiver focus on wingsuit flying. I’m writing about all kind of extreme sports, trying to find the best spots in the world to do it.

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