we’ve decided to put together a few tips, tricks, and tricks we’ve learned from others over the years, along with more insightful tips we’ve recently learned from Garrett, the chef of Brooklyn Boulders. Hope this helps you improve faster on your climbing trip.
1. MAKE FRIENDS
One of the funniest parts of rock climbing is being able to work on a problem with other climbers. It’s also interesting that different people approach a problem in different ways. Now we have a small group of rock climbing friends that we drag in and out of the gym, but it all started by working on a bouldering issue together.
2. TOP ROPE WILL HELP YOU WORK ON STAMINA
You might like bouldering more than rope climbing, but it’s sprinting against the marathon. We have found that we learn techniques better from bouldering, but we don’t work as much on endurance. If you try bouldering and are afraid of the idea, you can start on ropes as well. It’s easier to feel comfortable knowing that the rope is there to grab you and that it tends to be less stressful.
3. KNOW WHEN TO REST
If you feel that your fingers are sore or tired due to certain issues, try mixing them with different types or styles of climbs. When climbing, there is always a risk of injury, especially if you push yourself too far from your ability.
Jacob recently injured one of his fingers, and most climbers said the best thing to do was let it rest so you don’t risk an even more serious injury. (However, most people also have a hard time practicing what they preach and end up regretting it later. This includes our climber friend who is a doctor).
Depending on the severity of the injury, that doesn’t mean you need to stop climbing either. For example, when Jacob injured his left hand, he made easier climbs with his right hand only and worked on footwork and positioning instead.
As always, staying hydrated and stretching really helps. If you are injured you should see a doctor and if you want to learn more about climbing injuries this book is a great resource.
4. TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT IF YOU’RE PLATEAUING
Sometimes climbing can get frustrating because you don’t feel like you’re making progress. For example, you might be able to flash all V5s, but you won’t even be able to boot most V6s. When you reach that plateau, try not to stay focused on moving up the rating scale.
Often times you focus so much on wanting to move up to the next level that you get discouraged and it keeps you from improving. Once you feel like you’re plateauing, rather than trying the same thing over and over again with no progress, change what you’re doing. Change the type of climbing, inclines or overhung crimps versus slab, or traditional or sport climbing versus bouldering, or even playing climbing games/drills
5. STAND AWAY FROM THE WALLS AND KEEP YOUR BOTTLES AND BAGS IN CHECK
It is always important to know where people are climbing and where they are at risk of falling. Stay away from any of these areas.
We’ve seen people get really badly landed on water bottles or tripped over chalk bags (this happened to one of our friends in Portland). Be aware of where they are and make sure they are clear of any landings.
6. BE AWARE AND MINDFUL OF OTHERS
This one is a common mistake among new climbers. Even when the gym is busy, they’ll squat on the wall and try to move over and over again not realizing that the crowd of people is waiting to try the same or the one next to it. As a rule of thumb, you should only try once or twice, then take a step back and let others try.
If you want to work on a problem but someone is in there and it almost seems like they have it, it’s good to let it finish before you start exploring your own beta. You can mess up the flow and groove that they have.
7. BRUSH YOUR HOLDS
Usually, you’ll see people brushing the chocks while they’re working on a problem, but it’s also nice to brush them off afterward so the next person is ready to climb (especially if you tend to chalk too much).
It’s like when you go to the gym and after using the equipment, you wipe it off out of courtesy for the next person. This is not a common practice, but it is courteous.
Also, if you sweat a lot, wipe down the chocks! A few weeks ago I was working on a climb and came to a spot where I was caught off guard and my hands completely slipped out of what should have been a good grip. When I looked at my hands, they were covered in a chalk-gray mud and someone else’s sweat.
8. TO SPOT OR NOT TO SPOT
Spotting is a common practice outdoors, but depending on who you ask or where you are, it may or may not be common indoors. Only spot someone if asked and you know how to spot them correctly, otherwise you could risk even more injury.
For example, when I know that there is a part of the problem that I might run into, I can fall in a specific way knowing that the carpet is below me. If suddenly someone tries to spot me, I or he/she could be hurt even more. You can also request a place!
9. DON’T BE A SPRAYLORD
A big part of escalation is solving each problem. Don’t yell beta at people without being asked (if you don’t know what beta means, read this to learn basic rock climbing vocabulary). It’s like ruining the end of a movie.
If you want to offer advice to someone who seems to be struggling with a problem, ask them first if they want a beta. Here are some other ways you could be a Spraylord (read it! It’s hilarious. I know we’re guilty of some of them).
10.CLIMBING JEANS FOR SPONTANEOUS TRIPS TO THE GYM
Typically, we wear the same workout clothes that we would wear at any other gym, but last year we found out about Boulder Jeans. They’re great for everyday wear and you never know when you want to make a spontaneous trip to the gym (we’ve been going there almost every day lately!).
They are comfortable, stretchy and chalk will wipe off easily. They also have huge pockets which are perfect for general travel. You should take a look!
11. TAKE CARE OF YOUR HANDS
Rock climbing puts a lot of stress on your hands, especially in places you wouldn’t normally during daily activities. You will often see climbers sticking their fingers or wrists together. It helps when your hands are beaten or the skin tears.
We recommend that you chat with other climbers to learn different ways to do this. We have also found that using an ointment on your hands after climbing really helps them heal faster. We use this Metolius Repairing Hand Balm after each climb.
Lately, we have used Vitagenne Pure Relief Cooling Cream on sore muscles and tired hands. We love that they focus on pure, natural wellness. They’re made in the USA, have free options, are vegan and gluten-free, and carry the US Hemp Authority seal of certification. We also collected the sleep capsules to help Esther rest better.
12. CHALK YOUR ARM
This is certainly a hot topic as many climbers have strong opinions about what uses too much chalk. Some people who rock don’t carry chalk bags around their waist and prefer to use a large chalk bucket and leave it on the mat. If you fear sweat as much as I am, halfway up the climb the chalk dissolves on my hands.
Another climber told me to put some extra chalk on my forearms so that when I need it I can easily transfer it to my hands. Plus, if you’re petrified of heights as you climb, it’s also less scary than having to reach out behind you to get your chalk bag.