My first climbing event
Outdoorlads runs regular indoor climbing events up and down the UK, usually aimed at either beginners or experienced climbers, but with some run for mixed abilities.
In indoor climbing you climb up an artificial climbing wall indoors (typically 10 – 15 metres high) attached to a rope secured at the top of the wall to catch you if you fall off.
At any point you can just lean back on the rope and be safely lowered to the ground; you don’t need to go all the way to the top!
What can I expect?
When you come to your first indoor climbing event the procedure can vary a little bit depending on the rules at the climbing wall where the event is being held – you can check on the event page and message the event leader prior to the event if you have any questions.
It’s usual that you will be signed in to the event by the event leader or another experienced climber attending the event. This means that they are agreeing to take responsibility for your safety at the event by providing all supervision that is required.
Indoor climbing is a safe sport (accidents are very rare). We would like to keep it that way, which is why all climbing walls have systems in place to ensure beginners are supervised in an appropriate manner.
At an indoor climbing event you will have to pay the entry fee to the climbing wall (prices should be available on the climbing wall website).
You should bring reasonably loose-fitting clothes with you to climb in (most climbing walls have a changing room). You may need to hire a climbing harness from the climbing wall, though at our larger indoor climbing events outdoorlads has its own harnesses available for no charge.
We recommend that you also hire climbing shoes – tight fitting grippy rubber-soled shoes that let you – once you have a bit of experience – balance your feet on the tiniest holds that you could not dream of pushing down on wearing normal shoes – see the photo below. Most indoor climbing walls will allow you to climb indoors wearing trainers, but you will get much more out of it if you use climbing shoes.
Once you are kitted out the experienced climber supervising you will show you how to fit your harness, attach the rope to your harness and you will be ready for your first climb!
Your supervisor will belay you whilst you climb. What does this mean? It means that he will pull up the rope as you climb using a belay device so that if you fall you will only drop a few inches before the rope catches you. Then, when you get to the top of the wall you can just lean back on the rope and be lowered gently down to the ground.
The art of climbing
Then you can do a few more climbs and belay under close supervision, you will find that you learn more about how to use the holds and position your body to climb well. You will learn how to look up the wall and plan ahead as you climb; so that when you get to that crucial handhold that’s off to the left for example, it is indeed your left hand that’s in the right place and free to reach for it.
Over your first few events you will get more practice and have the opportunity to learn, at your own pace, how to belay.
After that, you will have the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of how to attach your harness and belay to a member of staff at the climbing wall and can climb there in the future without being signed in as a beginner and supervised. It doesn’t matter if you fail this one or more times whilst you are learning, no-one will mind and you can retake it when you feel ready.
If you are not sure about climbing, you could try an indoor bouldering event first instead.
Because you won’t be so far off the ground, there is a lot less that you need to learn; just the basics of how to use the bouldering wall safely (by understanding the limitations of the protection provided by the matting, not walking underneath people who are bouldering, etc.).
Then you can talk to the bouldering event leader about your interest in learning to climb, and they can advise you further.
Indoor climbing with Outdoorlads also offers you the chance to meet many new friends – most of our indoor climbing and bouldering events run weekly or biweekly with regulars who attend frequently, so you’ll certianly have the chance to get to know people and build a circle of friends, and we often go to a pub or café together afterwards.
The climbing leader will have gone through an OutdoorLads evaluation and assessment process and have proved that they are capable of leading the event.
A lifetime of climbing can await you…
Indoor climbing can be your first step into the vast world of climbing and mountaineering, or it can be an end in itself – the choice is yours and we can’t wait to help you develop your skills in whichever sport you prefer.
What are other types of OutdoorLads events like?
If there's still something you're not sure about related to attending your first bouldering event or any aspect of OutdoorLads, please do contact us.