1. Always be aware of your surroundings.
This is the most important thing to keep in mind while climbing in a gym. It’s also the source of the most common beginner issues or mistakes.
Always know where you’re standing or climbing relative to other people in the gym. It’s like crossing the street with the added threat of falling penguins. Look up, down, left, and right. Then do it again. Staying aware of your surroundings will save you from many dangerous and/or embarrassing situations.
If someone falls on you, it’s your fault.
- Keep yourself and all of your belongings out of potential fall zones. Look where people are climbing, where their route is going, and where they might fall if they come off the wall. Stay away from those places.
- If someone is on the wall already, they have the right of way. When you start a climb, make sure your route doesn’t intersect with another route someone else has already started.
Staying aware of your surroundings is the first thing you should consider when in the gym and will protect both you and your fellow climbers from injury.
2. Respect others around you.
Climbing culture, at its core, is all about being and staying motivated. This is deeply personal, but also a product of community effort. It’s what we honour, what we seek for ourselves, and the best gift we can give to another climber. By the same token, doing something that pops another climber’s bubble is seriously bad etiquette.
We all benefit as more and more people discover the joys of our sport. However, climbing is growing so fast that newcomers often don’t get the benefit of learning community and social norms from more seasoned climbers. Because of this, new climbers can unknowingly disrupt others in the process. The good news is that if you’re reading this, you probably care enough to not do that, so here are a few pointers to help you out.
3. Be a good member of the gym community.
Specifically, this means:
- When in doubt, ask. Climbers tend to be helpful, supportive people and they also remember what it’s like to be new to the sport. They are almost always happy to help as long as you aren’t talking to them while they’re in the middle of a climb. If you could use some guidance, just ask.
- Don’t be afraid to go ”smarties“. There are set routes in a gym that are a lot of fun. But when you’re new, don’t feel like you have to follow them exactly. Feel free to use holds and/or feet that aren’t on the official route /problem- just getting up the wall is an achievement in its own right. Just don’t veer way off a set climb since you might confuse other climbers who are trying to jump on a section of the wall that they think is open.
- Take turns on the bouldering wall. In a bouldering gym, there’s no set order or timing for when to climb and when to wait. Getting on a crowded wall is part empathy, part selfishness, and totally a feel thing. Simply be aware of the rhythm of those around you and, when the wall seems free, climb. If you’re feeling rushed and/or stressed out while climbing, you aren’t doing it right. And don’t forget, rest is important for peak performance – flailing hard, rarely gets the job done.
- Be aware that others might want to use the rope you’re on. If you’re climbing on the ropes, hanging briefly to rest and get some more attempts at a particular move or section is fine. But if the gym is crowded, chances are there are other people who want the rope you’re on, so don’t stay up there for 15 minutes trying over and over again. Lower down, take a break, and regroup while others get their psych on.
- Don’t offer unsolicited advice/beta. It’s fun to figure out how to do a route. If you think you have advice for another climber, be sure they want it before you say it. Whether they are on or off the wall, ask if they want a suggestion before making one. Giving unsolicited advice is called “spraying beta” and can annoy climbers who love figuring a route out for themselves. It can also be distracting for a climber who is already on the wall. Just to be clear, spraying beta is not the same as pointing out interesting routes. Feel free to tell someone about a route you really like or don’t like – just don’t get into what to do or not do unless you’re sure that the advice is wanted first.
- Those who brush it, crush it. Don’t get on a problem in between when someone brushes it and when they’re putting the brush away. Climbers brush holds to get rid of excess chalk, shoe rubber, and other residue that prevents the holds from feeling optimal. Don’t take the fruits of their labour for yourself. Or course, if they brush it and then for some reason don’t immediately get on the route, go ahead and jump in, but clean it after you try it.
- Don’t disrupt the peace. Sometimes, you may let out a power scream. Sometimes you’ll go for a hold, miss, and groan out of frustration. Just don’t make a habit of it. Loud noises can be distracting for others, so keep them to a minimum. Try hard to avoid throwing a young Ondra temper tantrum if you can’t do a climb, not only are they annoying to listen to, but they also make you look like a big lump of conglomerate.
Kids in Climbing Gyms
- Kids are natural climbers. Climbing gyms typically have classes and programs for children as young as 6 years old. After your child has taken a few classes, then you can all go to the gym together and enjoy some family climbing time.
- Climbing builds muscle, endurance and physical skills. Planning and anticipating moves is also a mental workout. Climbing is also a healthy option for children who are not interested in traditional team sports. It can also be an alternative team sport if you’re lucky enough to have school that fields a climbing team.
4. Respect the Gym Rules
Every gym has different rules. So be nice and follow the rules.
Whilst “belaying is belaying”, every gym may require you to do it slightly differently. From where to hold the rope to where to stand. Please belay the we want you too.
Some rules and advisories:
- Don’t boulder higher than you feel safe doing
- Don’t go bare foot on the mats (socks are the minimum)
- Don’t sit and belay
- Belay with shoes on, it will stop you from breaking your toes
- Be attentive
- Don’t use too much loose chalk, try and keep the mats as clean as you can
- Better still use our excellent liquid chalk
- No Tops Off – Keep your shirt on
- Don’t walk below lead climbers
- Supervise children
- Keep good communication
- Don’t check your phone while belaying
- Keep your hand on the break line
- The training areas should be welcoming to all adult users, do not turn this area into a bear pit
- Put the weights back on the racks and stacks – and if you can, tidy up after the ones who don’t, just think of all that extra lifting as training!
As a modern wall we that we want to adopt the highest standards of technical safety that modern equipment can provide. Therefore, we decided to ban all tube style devices that are smooth sided, and lack a directional breaking hand groove pattern, ie can be used in either axis or position. Most of these tube style devices were designed in the 80’s and 90’s before ropes for sport climbing dropped below 11mm in diameter, and as The Ledges ropes are all sub 11mm, such devices are not suitable, or designed to be used with modern ropes or in situations where multiple falls may occur.
If you arrive with an old Sticht Plate, ATC, Lowe Tuber, or belay 90’s style with a Figure of 8, we will ask you to donate this to the Museum of Curiosities and provide you with a loan device at reception.
No Climbing Shoes in the toilets
While some climbing gyms have notes on their bathroom doors, it should be a given that you shouldn’t wear climbing shoes in bathrooms. You don’t want to put whatever is on those floors onto holds.
Bring a pair of flip-flops or shoes to change into, or even Crocs; They are now cool according to the management.
Ok so now you are super keen and ready to tear the plastic off the boards…
How do I manage my time in the gym?
Please warm up, warm muscles last longer and don’t get injured so much. So if you don’t know how to warm up properly for your climbing, why not take one of our classes on how to get warm and started in a session. Alternatively watch what others are doing as long as you are not watching a 9a hero, therein lies to route to a pulled finger.
- Smash out some 30 shoulder sprints on the Ski Ergs, and get the heart rate up a bit
- Some jumping jacks and standing sprints also are great
- Gently load your hands and shoulders with your feet on the deck
- Take 10-15mins to get going then get on the wall.
- Start on super easy problems and then work up to the magic numbers
- Bouldering is physically demanding, so give yourself good rests between tries, at least 5 mins once you are climbing close to your limit. Really good climbers when bouldering outside may rest 30-40mins between attempts on a project to maximise their power. Don’t be in a hurry and enjoy the rests as much as the pulling.
When you first start, more than lightly your skin will get sore long before your muscles do, so be gentle with your time and hands to maximise your time and entry investment. Use our repair products – they do work we think
Climbing is a fine mix of mental problem solving (chess) flexibility (yoga) and power delivery at the right time (Moto GP) find this balance then you will be on your way.
First-Time Climber Tips
- Clothing: Wear clothes that offer comfort and mobility (stretch). You want a loose fit, but not so baggy that your clothes get caught on holds or gear. Yoga clothing works well. Wear something you don’t mind getting chalk on, and something that can withstand abrasion from the textured surfaces on walls and climbing holds.
- Rental Shoes are available at reception, of course they will not be as good as a pair that has been fitted by an expert to your foot shape and standard, but take your time working out what shoe works for you best. It is a bit of an art shoe fitting, so whilst online may be a bit cheaper, making a poor choice now could be a sloppy or painful affair.
- Temperature, Climbers prefer cool temperatures in indoor facilities as this prevents slipping off a sweaty hold unexpectedly (Dry Fire!). So please expect that unlike a swimming pool or health club, you at first may think the building is cold, this however is an advantage for vertical progress. Take a warm layer which you, so can take on and off to preserve your warm up warmth in between attempts or climbs.
- Rings and Jewellery, please remove any rings and jewellery that may snag on holds and equipment. You do not want to suffer a ring avulsion or degloving.
- A route will be on a roped wall, a problem will be on the bouldering wall
- Your goal is not to reach the top of a route/problem; your goal is to overcome challenges and to enjoy each success as you progress.
- Remember that your legs are stronger than your arms, so focus on ways to improve foot friction and leg placement.
- Taking time to learn the reasons you do things helps you find success more quickly.
- Watch more experienced climbers to learn their techniques, but don’t expect to be able to replicate them right away.
- When you’re ready to start on your own, take time to pick a good partner/mentor—that’s one of your most important climbing decisions.
- Good climbers, scope out a route or problem, trying to anticipate the order that holds are used by your hands and feet. Have a good look from the ground before you launch skywards.
- To start with, do not jump for holds (dyno), without conditioning either your skin or tendons will just lead to painful hands and very short session. Try and keep in control at all times
- We provide long pole-brushes at The Ledge for cleaning excess chalk from holds, use these a lot but then replace them in their holders. No one wants to land on a pole
- Have fun, make friends