Dangerous. Extreme. Epic. Crazy. Adrenaline Junkies. These are just a few of the terms often associated with rock climbers, because so often we are only exposed to extreme climbers and the romanticism of the sport in films and videos. But, rock climbing can be a fun and exciting adventure for just about anyone, if you know where to start.
For tips on how to get started with rock climbing, I sat down with Tim Walsh and Lucas Kovalcik (pictured above), co-founders of The Gravity Vault, an indoor rock climbing franchise. Both are avid climbers who wanted to share their passion for the sport with others, and in turn, created a franchise. Passing along their wisdom on the subject, Walsh and Kovalcik helped to answer some key questions on beginner rock climbing.
Related: Rock Climbing 101: Safety First
Who? You! It’s up to you to get out there and start climbing. Learning a new sport may be difficult, but the rewards are endless. “Climbing is an individual sport,” Kovalcik explains, “you have to rely on yourself to get up the wall. Ultimately you are the only person that convince you to keep trying.” And while climbing may be an individual process, there is a great community environment it is performed in, and accepting the help of others will get you where you want to go.
What? Climbing is a full body workout. Kovalcik adds, “It incorporates not only physical elements including cardio, strength, balance, and flexibility, but also mental elements of pushing boundaries, building confidence, problem solving, and trust. Many sports incorporate some of these things, but few sports incorporate all of them like climbing. Ask anyone who has been climbing and they will tell you rock climbing takes everything to the next level.”
When? “Now!” Walsh exclaimed, “Rock climbing is a sport centered on overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. There is no time like the present to take steps towards achieving those things.” There are so many options for rock climbing, and indoor gyms tend to have late night or early morning hours to appeal to any person’s schedule.
Where? Indoor gyms, such as The Gravity Vault are great places to start testing strengths and developing skills during any season. Walsh explained that The Gravity Vault is designed for everyone, from 5 to 75, there are climbing options for all. “At our gyms there is a climbing opportunity for everyone; from checking off the rock climbing box on their bucket list, to finding a new lifelong activity, to simply making new friends.”
Why? Rock climbing is a challenge, there is no denying that. But overcoming obstacles, depending on your body and mind to reach the top is beyond gratifying. The sense of accomplishment you get when you have completed a climb is like no other activity. “There is nothing as wonderful as the look on someone’s face when they surprise themselves with what they have overcome, and that is something that occurs every day in rock climbing.” Walsh added. “Climbing is also a very community oriented sport where any level of climber from beginners to experts can learn from each other, build confidence, and have fun. The community aspect is one of the biggest draws when it comes to rock climbing.”
How? First time climbers should always seek a mentor or guide. Walsh insists, “If it is your first time climbing, work with someone who is experienced with climbing, either an instructor or a friend. There are a lot safety tools and climbing techniques that only an experienced climber will be able to share with you. Start with the basics and work your way up from there.”
Push your limits or follow a dream you’ve always had to climb some rocks. There are plenty of accessible rock climbing facilities, such as The Gravity Vault, in areas around the U.S. And learn your way around techniques and safety before you start climbing Mount Everest. “Just remember that every single person, from people just starting out to seasoned vets, had a first time.” Kovalcik explains. “Don’t be afraid. Sure there are lots of things that are scary or difficult about rock climbing, but the scariest and most difficult part is deciding to try it out for the first time.”