Climbing is an incredible sport, but so many people seem to think that it’s too late to start for them as they didn’t begin when they were younger. Well, you probably didn’t start driving when you were six, but that didn’t stop you from learning when you were sixteen or seventeen years old! The same is true for numerous other things that you, and so many other people in the world, want to do, which begs the questions, “Is it too late to learn to climb?” or “Is there an age limit to start climbing?”
NO! You’re definitely not too old to start climbing
The truth is that you’re
never too old to start climbing, which means that even if you’re seventy, you could
theoretically, head to the gym later today and climb on!
Of course, you should be in good vascular condition, have a reasonably good fitness level, and be at a good weight before you begin to think about tackling your rock climbing adventure.
The good news is that you don’t need to be in excellent physical condition, a muscle-bound trainer or a fitness enthusiast to start climbing. You don’t even need to be capable of doing a hundred pushups in a row to succeed. Which is a good thing for many climbers, since not too many people can do that many pushups in a day, let alone at one time!
There are only three things that you’ll need to start rock climbing and none of them will cost you any money either! The first thing you’ll need is your willingness to try something new. The second is accepting failure and the third, which is the most important of the three, is patience. It might sound cheesy but patience truly is a virtue!
Start at a Climbing Gym
Okay, so now that you know you can start climbing at any age, you might feel ready to climb Everest. However, please don’t! Instead, you should begin your rock-climbing journey at an indoor climbing gym. This is a much safer and controlled environment, where you can learn the ropes and begin slowly, while staying closer to the ground. Plus, there are also ropes keeping you up and mats on the floor in case you do end up doing a free-fall. Cushioning the floor to make it softer than the hard ground you would encounter out in nature!
As you begin your first short climb, you’re going to want to pay attention to the different ways your body will be moving. It’s going to feel weird, and understand, that you are going to feel muscles pulling that you had no idea existed! Please be prepared to go home walking a little funny and more than ready for a soak in a hot tub. You may want to have someone nearby to help you out of there too! 😉
Now, there is always an exception to the rule, so there is a way that you can skip the indoor climbing gym. All you need to do is find an experienced rock-climber and an easy outdoor route. You may end up a little more bruised, but you should find success at the same time.
Always Ask for BETA
Every time you begin a climb, you should ask for BETA. This is basically the jargon used for climbing that states what information you should know about the climb you’re going to be doing. A little of the information that you should expect when you request BETA is how difficult the climb you’ll be doing is going to be, as well as the crux, style, and length of it. You should also be informed of the nature of the rock you’ll be climbing, the equipment that you’ll need, how you can best protect yourself while climbing, and any hand or foot holds you may be using.
This seems like quite a bit of information to process, but without it, you won’t find success. Instead, you’ll end up with frustration and your patience will wane considerably.
There is some slightly different information that you’ll need to know if you are doing an alpine climb. For those climbs, you need to know about the length and the difficulty of the approach that you’ll have, as well as how much water is available when you are up there. Since you may not be able to complete the entire alpine route, you should always inquire about exit routes and descent information. This last one is necessary to know, because you need to know how to get down the mountain without breaking a bone or two!
Once you have the climbing bug, you may find yourself wanting to discover different areas of the world. This is an excellent way to improve your skills, as some mountains are quite different than what you’ll have at home. However, you are urged to talk to experienced climbers where you are visiting, so that you have the knowledge that you’ll need to make the climb and get back down safely.
Be Patient When Climbing
So many people think that they can just put their climbing gear on and jump on the indoor climbing wall or the closest mountain. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As with anything else, climbing entails learning the procedures of what needs to be done for a successful climb.
As a newbie climber, you’re going to be encouraged to exercise some patience and take it slow. Your goal is to ease your body into this newfound world that you have recently discovered, to ensure that you don’t get injured in any way.
Now, if you’re younger when you begin this journey, you’re going to find that you have an advantage over those who have a few more years of life experience. Younger people injure themselves less often, most of the time anyway! The reason for this is because they’re more flexible and can keep their balance a little better while maneuvering in different ways. Those sore muscles will only hurt for a few days instead of a week, for an older person. And of course, if a younger person does get injured, they normally recuperate a lot faster!
It’s going to be a struggle to have the patience that you need, as you are heading out for you first climb and even your twentieth climb. In fact, there’s not going to be a time in your climbing career when you’ll be capable of forgoing that patience and simply do as you want!
Once you do your first climb, you may decide that you know enough to be prepared for the next adventure. That may be true, but only if you plan on climbing again fairly soon. After all, we don’t always remember what we learn, and it usually takes us doing something repetitively before we can fully grasp what we’re doing.
Therefore, if you’re only planning on going out climbing once or twice a year, you’re going to have a problem. The first problem is that you’re not going to remember exactly what gear you need or how to use it. Second, your body isn’t going to remember the climbing techniques it needs to use as you’re going higher and higher up the mountain. And third, you simply won’t remember whether to grab a climbing hold with one hand or the other or move your feet first. That can cause major issues, as one wrong step or hand placement could have you sliding down the side of the mountain really fast.
Anyone who wants to climb is encouraged to venture out to climb as often as they possibly can, as it’s the only way that they can improve on their skills. It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the more you climb, the better you will get! After all, all those hours on the rock-climbing wall or at the crag will increase your balance, improve your techniques, and even allow you to determine which climbing moves you need to do as if it were second nature.
The best part about climbing more often is that you will continuously get stronger. And, those stronger muscles will allow you to continue to improve as your skills keep getting better and better. As a beginner, you should choose easy pitches, as that will improve your stamina and endurance. The more difficult climbing routes will only make you lose patience and give up.
There is a major difference between younger and older climbers too. Older climbers normally find that they have plenty of stamina and endurance, while younger climbers have more muscle strength and power.
Always Focus on Technique Rather than Strength
The technique that you use is always going to be your focus, instead of the sheer strength that you have. You must remember that this is a skill-based activity, so you could be fit, trim, and muscle-bound and still not be able to climb a mountain as well as the slightly overweight and muscle-less person who has mastered the skills next to you!
Yes, you should be physically fit before you attempt climbing, but you don’t need to go overboard with your fitness training either. All you need to do is focus on the skills that are needed for a climb and continue to develop them.
To do this, you may need to start with the first step and do that twenty to thirty times, until it feels natural and then move on to the second one. You can then fluidly move between steps one and two before deciding that you are ready to add step three. It will continue from there, but it will take a lot of patience.
Cross-Train Throughout the Year
While it is important to do the same types of climbs throughout the year, it is just as necessary for you to cross-train. Cross-training will allow you to strengthen other muscle groups which you might not have realized you needed for your climbs. Plus, trading off trad, bouldering, and sport climbing, as well as switching between indoor and outdoor climbing will ensure that you’re continuously learning new techniques and implementing them into your climbs.
It’s always recommended that climbers switch gyms for new angles and setting styles every once in a while. Clip bolts can be added for trad climbing, while a new route can make you concentrate on every inch you’re covering.
The best part about cross-training is the renewed focus and concentration that you need to have as you’re doing something new. By mixing things up, you can achieve extra endurance, extra focus, and even extra power that you need for some of the most difficult climbs that you have done to date!
Always Remember to Have Fun
There is so much to remember when you’re out climbing, and while they’re all important, the ultimate one is to always have fun in the process. But never forget to be patient and take your time. After all, climbing is like a huge puzzle that you need to solve in smaller steps.
Each step requires a move that can be a grasp with your hands, a placement of your foot, or a combination of both in the required angle . Taller people will find that certain moves need to be avoided, while shorter people will find that they simply can’t reach every climbing hold. The moves that you make can be as complex or simple as you wish, as you are the one playing the game, while having a good time!
The joy in climbing is also the fact that you can do the same route a hundred times and still find a new way to tackle it on the one hundred and first time. Now remember, each route won’t be successful, but that is what also adds to the fun and the excitement of being out there going higher and higher up a mountain or climbing wall.
Climbing is meant to be an enjoyable experience for people of all ages, which means that you’re almost never too old to start your journey! And, the good news is that if you have never climbed before, you can easily obtain everything that you need and hardly spend a dime. After all, patience is free, as is being fairly physically fit and getting stronger each day. Focus and determination are also free, you just need to incorporate them into your daily routine.
If you’re new to climbing and ready to see what it is all about, or if you have done it before and are ready to do it again, venture out to your nearest rock-climbing gym or find an experienced instructor and get climbing! You’ll thank yourself later as you’re going on the adventure of a lifetime!