Long story short, I sent my first 5.12 route today! At our gym, I spent a few hours trying to set a 5.12 route, so that I could work on something at my limit. I had tweaked the route dozens of times, and when I felt it was ready, I grabbed my climbing shoes and tied into the sharp end! I worked it on top rope for almost 2 days! Finally, today I reached the top. I want to thank my belayers for their patience and encouragement. I was able to do the whole route with only one fall (it was only on the 3rd move so I kept going). I feel like this is the hardest route I’ve sent, the previous hardest being a 5.11. I am excited to keep progressing as a climber.
This is why we climb!
Here are a few things I’ve learned and use while climbing to stay safe!
- Personal Anchors – These are what climbers use to stay safe when it becomes necessary to clip into a fixed piece of protection such as a bolt. The great thing about a PAS is, you can clip your carabiner into any of the loops, depending on if you want to be tight up against a bolt, or if you need a little more room. I like to use three PAS chains at all times, because most climbing anchors have 2 bolts, and I always use the third to back it all up. In climbing, you always want a back up system in case one (or two) fail.
- Helmet – This is self explanatory. In a gym, unless you are leading, it is usually unnecessary to wear a helmet. Outdoors, it is a must. You should never climb without one. Things can happen, even while walking around the crag I have seen people trip while eating lunch and smack into a rock. Not fun.
- Carabiners – When you start climbing you may only need 1 or 2 carabiners. As you build more skills, you’ll find that you may need several. I currently have over 14 carabiners. They aren’t cheap either, but you need to make sure you buy the right ones. DO NOT BUY CARABINERS FROM HARDWARE STORES! Often they are cheaper, but aren’t built to the standards of rock climbing. Look for ones that have screw gates for safety, like this one:
- Leather Gloves – No, not for climbing. But you should wear leather gloves for belaying. Things happen, and sometimes something as simple as a bee sting could cause you to lose control of your rope while belaying. This could mean that if your climber falls, you wont have enough grip to catch them, or worse, could mean 4th degree burns on your hands. Be safe, and use a thick pair of gloves so that even if you do let go of the rope, you can safely regain control without any discomfort.
Hope you guys enjoyed this post. Let me know what you think and what other safety tips you may have!
As always, walking is so knot the same as climbing! It rocks!
So, you’re a rock climber now, huh? You’ve got the gear, you’ve got the skills, and now you’re ready to head outside and climb rocks! But, how do you interact with other climbers at the cliff? How do you make sure you don’t say something to make you look stupid? Or worse, offend someone? Here’s some tips and climbers etiquette:
- Climbing routes can be reserved. When you get to a cliff, and you’re looking for a route to climb, sometimes you will see rope hanging from it. Sometimes, there won’t even be any climbers near by. This means that a climber has taken the time to set up an “anchor” and place his/her rope on it. This takes time, and depending on how dangerous the top of the cliff is, requires a certain amount of skill to do safely. The climbers have reserved this route to climb, and it is unwise to try to set up your rope on the same line. Trust me, this will definitely start conflict. Find a different route without a rope hanging from it.
- Climbers love music. It has been my experience that you almost always hear music at the crags. But before you blast Dr. Dre on your portable speaker, make sure you ask everyone at the crag what their taste in music is. You don’t want to play Hip Hop if the other group at the cliff prefers Jazz. An easy way to accommodate everyone, I’ve found, is to swap out iPods every half hour or so. This way everyone gets to hear their own music at least once.
- If you’re out there, chatting with other climbers and making friends, please be mindful of what style the climbers are climbing in. Some climbers are top roping, in this case it is safe to walk over and start a conversation with them. However, there are other kinds of rock climbing, such as traditional rock climbing. This is where the climbers start from the bottom of the climb, as well as their ropes. As they climb up, they stick in pieces of metal protection such as chocks and SLCDs (post on that to follow). This technique requires immense concentration, and as such, please respect these climbers by not talking to them while they are climbing and/or belaying.
- Learn your commands! Nothing will make you stand out more as a noobie than not knowing your climbing commands. Climbers have their own language, and it’s best to learn it ahead of time so you don’t look foolish. When you start to climb, turn to your partner and say, “Climbing”, then he/she should respond, “Belaying”. If you need to rest after a hard move, let your partner know by saying, “Rest”. This lets him know to sit on the rope to make it tight so that you do not lose upward progress. They should respond with something like, “Static”, so that you know that the rope is now tight and you can rest. When you continue climbing, repeat “Climbing”, and your partner should repeat “Belaying”. Other commands are: “Watch me”, to indicate you are doing a hard move. “Dirt me”, to indicate you are ready to be lowered to the ground (dirt). “Come on!”, to cheer on a climber. “Sent”, a way of saying you got to the top of a route. There are hundreds more, and I will list all of them in a later post.
That’s it for now. I will continue to add posts about how to behave while rock climbing in future posts, but for now, stay safe and have fun!
As always, walking is knot climbing 😉
Welcome to “Rock Climbing Life!”
This is officially my first post! If you want to know about me, check out the “About” page. I wanted to create a space where people who are curious about rock climbing, or want to hone their rock climbing skills, can come learn from someone who’s in the game. As a certified gym instructor, I have developed the skills necessary to keep you alive on the ropes, and of course, have fun doing it! Here are some Tech Tips which I have learned over the years in order for you to stay safe while rock climbing. Enjoy!
- The Figure 8 Knot – There are hundreds of knots that the modern day rock climber has to learn, but this is the most important. This is the knot that connects your end of the rope to your partner. Start with about 4 feet of rope, make a twist in it, and loop the rope around the twist. Then, poke the end of the rope through the loop. You should be able to see the shape of an “8” in the rope. This is how you connect yourself to the rope. Simply thread it to your harness, and complete the knot the same way as before, to make a “double rope” figure 8. If you have any extra rope, just tuck it into the knot.
- Climbing Shoes – Like most people, when I first started rock climbing, I used a comfortable pair of sneakers. This can only take you so far. Eventually, you will need a special pair of shoes called, “Climbing Shoes”, in order to get better at climbing. These shoes are specially made by companies that add a thick layer of black rubber to the bottom of the shoe. This allows for your foot to “stick” to the rock better. This will help you a lot as you progress because you wont have to press as hard on footholds.
- Chalk – Think of the chalk crayons you used in school, only crushed up to a fine powder. This is chalk powder, which you keep in a “chalk bag” so that you can dip your hands in the chalk as you climb. Rock climbing is not like climbing a ladder. Especially in the gym, holds can be very slippery, and the chalk helps keep your hands from slipping off, which can cause you to fall! Outdoors, I have found that the holds are not as slippery, and I rarely use chalk – but perfect your skills indoors before you attempt this technique.
- To Belay – This is the name of the process in which you control the rope when another person is climbing. I won’t go into the specifics of how to belay, because this should be done by a qualified instructor (like yours truly) at a certified climbing gym, but here’s a tip to help you get better once you have learned. Set up a “faux belay” station in your home. This is where you set up a pulley on a doorway, over your bed, or in your garage, and thread the rope in it as if you were belaying. Practice feeding out the rope, and taking in the rope, so that once you get out there and have to belay in the real world, your technique will be perfect!
That’s it for now! Get out there and have fun!
And remember, walking is knot the same as climbing!