Photo credit: Jeremy Sanders
- Find a local gym. Most good-sized cities have at least one, and every gym should have some sort of introductory class, where you can learn how to tie in to the rope safely, safety commands, and how to use a belay device – that’s the nifty little thing that keeps you off the ground when (not if!) you fall. That’s how I got started – best $15 I’d ever spent!
- Make friends. Climbing gyms are also crawling with…you guessed it – other climbers! The quickest way to learn the lingo and meet the locals it to jump right in and get involved wherever you can. Climbing is a social sport deeply rooted in community. Sure you’ll find a few egos that can hardly fit through the door here and there, but for the most part climbers are very open to new folks. Don’t be afraid to approach climbers that are stronger/more experienced than you and ask for help. Any climber worth knowing would be happy to offer assistance.
- Get out! Sure, indoor climbing is fun, but that’s only the beginning. The real magic happens outside, when its just you and the rock – there’s no colored tape to point out where the holds are, and your end goal is atop a cliff with spectacular mountain vistas (not the i-beams at the top of an industrial warehouse!) The easiest ways to get yourself climbing outside? Refer back to steps 1 and 2. If a gym is at all within driving distance to any type of real rock, odds are that they will be offering guided trips to a local crag – usually gear rentals are included in the price. These guided day trips can get pretty expensive (insurance for this type of sport isn’t cheap!), so if you’re climbing on a shoestring budget, a better bet is to get to know the local climbers (who are probably climbing most if not every weekend). Make friends and sooner or later you’re bound to score an invite on one of those trips.
Photo Manuela Eilert
Since that very first ski trip rest day, we’ve been able to use climbing as a starting block for countless adventures all across North America! But probably our biggest adventure yet started in the summer of 2009, when I saw two lines on a pregnancy test – most people would assume that climbing, pregnancy, and babies don’t have very much in common with each other, and that I would have traded my harness in for a stroller. However, I would beg to differ – climbing played an integral role in keeping me physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy during my pregnancy. And now that our little Cragbaby is here, he’s as active a participant in our adventures as anyone else! For a glimpse of what a day in the life of our “Crag-family” is like, check out this short film from Jan Balster. (http://vimeo.com/24808397)
Creating a Crag Baby from JB-Photo on Vimeo.