Good indoor climbing etiquette for beginners

Good Indoor Climbing Etiquette Every Beginner Should Know

For those of you that have decided to start the New Year off by reaching new heights, climbing is a great way to challenge yourself and grow your strength. Many people decide to test this out in the gym world where it seems a little less daunting for a newbie and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, just like the other areas of the gym, there are rules of etiquette that all indoor climbers should know at the very least, so you don’t get hurt or incur the wrath of the more experienced climbers around you. Without further ado, here are the unwritten climbing rules that will help you rise above the ranks in the bouldering world.


Obviously, safety is the biggest concern for every climber. Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself safe, as well as avoid accidentally harming someone else.

– Stay out of the fall zone

It’s wise to think of climbing like crossing a busy street from The Jetsons. Something is coming in every direction, up, down, left, right, diagonally… you get the idea. Always look around you and stay vigilant. If you’re not paying attention, someone could fall on you, which at the very least, will be embarrassing, but if you’re unlucky, will result in serious injury. Needless to say, it’s absolutely your fault if someone falls on you.

– Keep your gear out of there too

The bouldering area is no place for your gear, including water bottles. Newbies are always surprised to learn that a water bottle can cause major damage if someone falls on it. So, keep all your gear in the designated areas. If you’re not sure where to put things, you can just ask a staff member. Someone will be happy to show you a safe place to store your gear.

– Lookout for where others are climbing

Pay attention to the routes of your fellow climbers. You need to watch for where they could fall if they come off the wall and stay clear of that area. This is not the time to zone-out or let your mind wander about what to make for dinner later.

– Make sure no one is using a pad before you move it

Another indoor climbing sin is moving a pad without checking to see if someone’s already using it. If you come upon a climbing pad and you’re not sure if it’s being used, even if you don’t see anyone climbing at that particular moment, take the time to ask first, just to be certain. Trust us! No one will be mad at you for checking.

– Focus while belaying someone

Hopefully, during your new climbing adventures, you’ll make lots of new friends. But one way to lose them, both literally and figuratively, is to lack focus while belaying someone. Just as you want your belayer to pay attention to you when you’re up there, stay in tune with whoever you’re belaying for or else a serious injury could occur. This is definitely not the time to be playing on your smartphone or even getting distracted by other climbers, whether because they’re impressive or you’ve got the hots for them.


Aretha Franklin famously sang about respect and in the indoor climbing world, respect is the next most critical aspect of good indoor climbing etiquette.

– Try to keep those noises down

No one likes the noisy guy that shouts or grunts loudly with every curl in the weight room. Same goes for the climbing wall. It’s one thing to let out little grunts here and there when things are tough. Most of the other climbers shouldn’t mind that. Likely, they’ll do it too. You can’t expect it to be as silent as if a bunch of mimes have rented out the gym for a day. But shouting and grunting with every move you make is just lame. It’s as bad as that meat-headed muscle-guy trying to get everyone to look at him and how strong and powerful he is. Ugh!

– Take turns

Something you learned in kindergarten will surely serve you well on the wall. When others are on the wall before you, they have the right of way. Watch your own route as you start your climb to keep from getting in the way of someone else. There’s no hard and fast rule of how long you should wait or time things. Just get up there and go with the rhythm of everyone around you. When you see a free spot, get in there. Working with others to take turns on the wall and rope is how it gets done and while it might seem chaotic at first, once you get into it, you should feel that buzz that makes you keep coming back for more.

– Keep your shirt on, fellas

Outdoors where the sun is burning and the sweat drenches your skin, it’s perfectly fine to take off your shirt. But at the indoor climbing gym where you’re surrounded by fluorescent lighting and sometimes blasted with air conditioning, it’s considered a major faux pas. Just like the whole grunting/shouting thing, it will only serve to make you look like an attention-seeker.

– Don’t brag about your climbs

You might think you looked like Adonis out there on your last climb, but the truth is, well, you didn’t. None of us look as amazing as we think up there. Be proud of your accomplishments and measure them only to as far as you’ve come from the beginning. No one likes a one-upper.

– Keep your unsolicited advice to yourself

Known as “spraying beta” in the climbing world, advising others when it’s not asked for is another no-no in the world of indoor climbing. Climbing is something deeply personal to each of us. It’s proving to ourselves we can handle anything. If someone asks you for advice, feel free to offer your guidance. If you notice something on their safety that is missing, speak up to keep them safe. But other than that, as with other areas of life, be quiet, observe and MYOB.

– Don’t jump on other people’s freshly brushed holds

When indoor climbing, lots of shoe rubber, chalk, and other residues can get on the holds. You’ll need a brush to get rid of that excess gunk so you can get the best grip on the holds. When you see someone brushing their route, let them get on it first, before firing through. It’s rude to let them do all the work and then come cruising along. Let them pass first before following or learn to brush it yourself.

– Don’t be a chalk-moocher

It’s one thing if you’re trying out indoor rock climbing to see if you like it before investing in all the gear you’ll need, from shoes to chalk. So if it’s your first time ever, borrowing some chalk isn’t a big problem though your gym should have some you can use. But once you get into it, start bringing your own chalk and your own gear. No one likes a moocher.


Climbing is a good, clean sport. Or at least it should be! There are a few things you can do to make the experience better for yourself as well as for your fellow climbers.

– Don’t climb barefoot

You’re not Tarzan! You need shoes to do a proper indoor climb. Your feet simply don’t have that kind of traction. Not only that, but no one wants to come into contact with your bare foot. Even if you’re a foot model outside the gym, no, no, no! Wear shoes!

– That being said, wear proper shoes

Just as bad as going full Tarzan with your climb is wearing regular street shoes on the wall. Invest in a proper pair of climbing shoes. If you’re trying out climbing for the first few times, you can look into renting them. These shoes are designed to give you the right grip and help you maximize your climbing efforts. Regular shoes just don’t cut it. Plus, when you come in with shoes you’ve been wearing all day and get up on the wall, you’re putting everything from the city streets to the bathrooms you’ve been in up there on the holds. Yuck! On another note, wearing your climbing shoes into the bathroom gym is equally disgusting.

– Try not to bleed on anything

Cuts and abrasions, as well as lacerations, are fairly common in climbing, especially on your fingertips. If you notice you start bleeding on the holds, try to clean it up as quickly as you can if it’s a minor injury. If you’ve somehow managed to injure yourself to a larger degree, let others know you need help and get down as quickly and safely as you can. Your safety and the safety of others around you is most important of course, but if you are bleeding, please try not to spread it around.

– Use chalk responsibly

Most indoor climbing gyms ban the use of loose chalk. So you’ll need a chalk ball to get enough chalk on your hands for a climb. But even those can get messy too. You don’t want to get chalk all over the place. That’s the exact reason gyms don’t want you bringing loose chalk in. That and because it gets into the ventilation system. Be mindful of how much you use so you’re not shrouding the place in a layer of dust.

In summary, safety always and obviously comes first in indoor climbing. Part of it involves being a considerate human being that watches out for others, instead of just watching out for themselves. Being respectful and clean are the other things you need to uphold while in an indoor climbing gym.

While safety is pretty much regulated to the climbing wall and the surrounding areas, respect and cleanliness go for the whole indoor climbing experience. Do unto your fellow climbers as you’d want them to do to you and you should come out of it with a newfound love of the sport and some good friends to boot.

Don’t be fearful of trying something new like indoor climbing though. If you’re curious, learn more from your fellow athletes and staff. They’re there to answer your questions and help you get into climbing safely. From guiding you to where you can buy good climbing shoes instead of renting them to finding your other climbing gear, our posts can definitely steer you in the right direction so feel free to check them out.

One last thing: climbing can be pretty addictive. Once you start, you’re probably going to fall in love with it. The problem with that is you’ll want to do it all the time, and even the most experienced climbers will tell you to take a day off in between. In other words, don’t climb every single day. Climbing impacts your joints so you’ll want to do cardio and stretching before each climb and take the time to rest and recover so you don’t overdo it.

You know what they say about too much of a good thing, right? That also goes for climbing. Practice proper indoor climbing etiquette and take care of yourself before and after each climb to truly reap the rewards.


Attention: You have to take care of your own safety and health when climbing. The information on only serves for learning and entertainment purposes. Before climbing, make sure you have been properly instructed by an expert and adhere to all safety precautions. This site is owned and operated by Mohamed Foued Ben Slama, Mohamed Foued Ben Slama is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for websites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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