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Hand to Rock: Climbing for Beginners Who are Out of Shape and Don’t Have a Clue

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Hey, chubby! Yeah, you! I can tell that there’s a svelte, sexy, animal of a rock-climber hiding under that soft and flabby exterior. Perhaps you have some climber friends and you’re jealous of the rippling back muscles. Perhaps you just think climber chicks are hot and wanna impress them. Or, least likely of all, perhaps you just think climbing looks like a total kickass time and you’d like to give it a shot. Whatever the reason, we’ve got some beginner tips for you regardless of your physical condition or climbing knowledge.

Join a Gym
Climbing gyms are popping up all over the country and with good reason: Climbing is freakin’ cool! These gyms offer classes and put you in contact with other climbers who can teach you the ropes ( see what I just did there) and, hell, maybe even be your friends. Many of these gyms offer total fitness by providing access to cardio equipment, weights, and hangboards but, remember, the more you climb indoors, the sooner you can get outdoors. Moreover, you can even rent your gear for cheap.

Speaking of Gear:
As far as getting started in this sport, it’s relatively inexpensive. You’ll need the following, some of which can be purchased used.

Harness:
Black Diamond, Petzel, and The North Face all make good harnesses. You can purchase one for as cheap as $50. This is one item I recommend buying new as you don’t want a worn harness that might be close to retire and could fail on you.

121873385Climbing Shoes:
Evolv are personal faves. Shoes can be purchased used for as little as $30, though you may have to invest in resoling them at some point in the near future.

Carabiner and Belay Device:
Cheap and a necessity for not-falling-to-you-death purposes.

Make Climbing Friends:
Most of what you need to learn about climbing can be taught to you by seasoned climbers. You’ll find that they’re typically willing and able to help. Also, climbers tend to have the patience of Job. Thank god for clueless dumbasses like you.

Questions to ask before putting your faith in a climber friend:

1. How long have you been climbing?

2. Do you climb both indoor and outdoor?

3. Can you lead climb?

4. Can you define the following terms: belay device, break-hand, figure 8 knot, double-backed?

5. Have you climbed anything notable? The Diamond? El Capitan? Lindsey Lohan?

Read a Book and Watch Some Videos:
There are tons of videos on Youtube and gear sites that detail how to climb, where to climb, and the gear you need. Furthermore, there are typically climbing guides and route maps that you can purchase at your local bookstore that will detail the climbing in your area. A good place to start is Mountain Project once you get outdoors. If you’re still fallin’ on 5.8’s, you can’t recite the Yosemite Decimal System by heart, and you don’t know who Chris Sharma is…for the love of god, get a climbing book and keep your clueless ass in the gym.

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