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What You Need to Know Before Your First Time Rock Climbing

Photo By Isaac Cook


It has been about a year and a half since I was first hired at the Johnson Center’s rock wall. With zero experience, I had to quickly learn how to climb, belay and learn safety procedures such as CPR. Even now, some of my favorite people to belay are those who have never climbed because I remember the cluelessness. So here are the top four things you should know before you try rock climbing.


1. It is harder than you think it is

When we see the brightly colored climbing holds we instantly remember the playground equipment where we climbed ten or so feet to get to the top of the slide. This usually leads people to thinking rock climbing will be much easier than reality. Just know to trust your belayer and not be upset if you can only climb a couple times. Just keep at it and it will get much easier.


2. The rope will catch you

This seems to be the hardest aspect to keep in mind for new climbers. Many people panic when they begin to fall for the first time. It is an eerie feeling to be suspended by a rope thinner than a centimeter. However, you will also get used to this overtime. As long as you and your belayer communicate and double check knots, the rope will catch you.  


3. The colored tape means something

Unlike the playground equipment we are more familiar with, there is a designated route for you to follow. It is okay to climb just for the fun of it, but your belayer is going to typically put you on the easiest route for your first climbing experience. By not following the colored tape of the route, you just make it harder for yourself.


4. You have to come down

Coming down can be the most enjoyably aspect of rock climbing when you become more comfortable with it. For your first time climbing, it will likely be the most anxiety-inducing part of your climb. Just know that you will have to let go of the wall (grabbing onto the rope will help keep you balanced) and trust your belayer to lower you.  


By keeping these four tips in mind, you can make your first rock climbing experience an enjoyable one.


"You can tell how smart people are by what they laugh at." -Tina Fey
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