Adventure, Advice, Inspire

Get Climbing; starting out

If you have ever wanted to try climbing or if you think it’s the sport for you, then let us help you get out on your first climbing adventure.

In this post:
  • Where to start
  • Learning the ropes
  • Climbing Walls
  • Safety

Where to start

You don’t need to buy any equipment! For your first foray into the climbing world head to your local climbing wall. They are all over the country and will offer taster sessions that you can book onto and test the water to see if you like it. All your equipment will be provided, just throw on some comfy clothes, a pair of trainers and maybe grab a friend or two to join you for the session. Avoid loose clothing, long hair should be tied back and all jewellery, including rings should be removed. For more information speak to your local climbing wall.

 Learning the ropes

Unlike the old days your first experience doesn’t have to be halfway up a mountain somewhere, on some windy and/or wet British summers day. You can now book onto a learn to climb course at your nearest climbing wall where they will take you through the basics, teach you how to use the equipment and give you advice on the next stages of climbing development.

Already done this?….. don’t panic the next blog in this series will give you all the info on becoming a independent climber.

If you want to get the most out of your first climbing session there are plenty of ‘how to’ videos online to help you swat up on some basic but essential skills such as:

~ Learn how to tie a rethreaded figure of 8 knot
~ Get a understanding of belaying i.e live and dead rope

Climbing walls

To find a local climbing wall you can check out the data base of climbing walls HERE or give it a Google. Not sure what your looking for? Here are a few handy things to look for

What does the climbing wall actually have?

Is it a climbing wall with tall climbs needing ropes and harnesses or is it a bouldering centre dedicated to unroped climbing not far from the ground with crash matts to protect from falls?

Bouldering above crash mats for added safety.

Both are great options but if you want to learn the ropes then a bouldering taster session won’t teach you much about them. If a centre has both then you will generally start the session on some easy bouldering to warm up before you get into some higher climbing.


All climbing walls in the UK will be governed by the Health and Safety Executive and so will have comprehensive risk assessments and operating procedures to look after you and their staff. You may notice that some walls have certain badges or logos from other organisations but what do they mean for you? Here are a few explanations of the most relevant…

AALA licence.

This means the centre has been inspected and approved to the Adventurous Activity Licence Authority standards for the activities the centre offers. Although this is not a requirement by law for indoor climbing a centre may have chosen to do this because they also offer outdoor climbing or similar activities that require them to have it. The licence is traceable through AALA.


Some walls will have joined the Association of British Climbing Walls. This will mean they have met the entry criteria which includes climbing wall construction, maintenance and safety procedures. Basically what you are climbing on has been built by someone who knows what they are doing and it is safe to use. Although some older climbing walls won’t have this accreditation most will be working towards it. If your not sure just ask at the wall reception. Again this is not a requirement by law.


National Indoor Climbing or Bouldering Award Scheme. This is a great scheme that allows you to gain nationally recognised climbing awards. NICAS runs from levels 1-5 and will teach you everything you need to become an independent, safe climber. Not all NICAS centres will offer all levels but the awards are transferable so you can move should your centre not offer the next level.


Some walls will be affiliated to the British Mountaineering Council. This is great because it means they are more likely to be involved with national competitions, including some beginner friendly and fun ones as well as the serious ones.

Please always remember Climbing can be dangerous, you should take every precaution to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you. However particularly  should be aware that all risk cannot be taken out of climbing without destroying the nature of the activity and climbing HOLDS MAY SPIN.

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