Learning to Rock Climb

Uli Steck might dominate speed ascents of sheer mountain faces, but not everyone aspires to solo the Eiger. For myself, I’m more than content to top-rope limestone slabs.

Weak knees, strong will! (Photo: B.Kopp)

Learning to Climb

  • The safest place to begin is by taking a course with a certified professional.
  • Climbing gym courses remove the safety issues surrounding outdoor climbing.
  • Master the skill of putting on a climbing harness correctly.
  • Learn the difference between locking (always used on a harness) and non-locking caribiners.
  • Practice the figure eight knot until you can do it in your sleep.
  • Learn the basic climbing commands (“on belay”, “climbing”, “climb on”, “take”).
  • With a trained belayer (the trustworthy soul holding the rope at the bottom), you’re ready to tackle the climb.
  • Now you’re ready to learn to belay other climbers.
  • Practice climbing and belaying, lots.
  • Once you’ve mastered all of the basic skills, take a course outdoors and learn to set up anchors and climb in a natural setting.
  • Note: you now need to add a climbing helmet to your gear list. Rocks fall often without warning (“rock!”).
  • Be prepared for weather changes.
  • Once you have mastered the basics of top-roping (where the rope is passed through a secure anchor at the top of the climb and doubles back down to the belay person) you are ready to take another course on lead climbing.

One day, Uli, one day!

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