So, the climbing bug has bitten and you signed up with the No Joining fee special! Yaaas!
Next up on your journey into the climbing worm hole is owning your own gear.
The first piece of gear you will need for both bouldering and roped climbing is your very own pair of climbing shoes. The sweet feeling of sliding your foot into a pair of shoes that fits you perfectly and sticks to the edges like glue not only gives you greater confidence in your climbing but might see your grades go up one or two.
The challenge lies in finding that pair that fits like a glove. My advice, don’t have your heart set on a pair you have seen. Try them all on and like Cinderella, there is a glass slipper out there for you. Somethings to look for to ensure you have found “the pair”:
- Fits snug like a sock. Your toes touch the front and maybe be slightly curled, no air pockets around the heel or sides of the feet.
- They are tight but not painful. Your new shoes will be stiff at first and soften after a few weeks of climbing regularly in them but should not be painful from the start.
- Check if they are synthetic or leather. Leather shoes tend to stretch a lot more than synthetic so you will want to have them tighter from the start to soften to the perfect fit. Too comfy to start and you will have slippers in no time.
If you love the sensation of being 15 meters above the ground, a harness is your next gear purchase. Moving from the rental harnesses to your own padded harness is like removing your hiking boots after a 20km hike and putting on a pair of soft slippers.
When selecting your harness, try them all on and be sure to have a weighted seat in them. By doing this you will see how it feels when you are hanging in your harness during or at the end of your climb. Each brand fits slightly differently and we are all shaped differently around our waists and hips, so take the time to see which harness hugs your body gently and with the tenderness and support of a good push up bra.
Be sure to have the Gear Shop sales expert take you through how the buckles work, making sure it is fitted correctly and which are the tie in loops and belay loop as rental to padded harness do differ in these areas.
Lastly, you will need some chalk and a brush to ensure you have that extra grip on the holds.
We don’t think of ourselves as sweaty creatures, but we are. While this is our evolutionary advantage, it is less advantageous when trying to climb, since sweaty hands are slippery. Our porous skin can sweat as much as a litre of water an hour, and when we are climbing, sweat is released from our hands. We use magnesium carbonate (chalk) to dry our sweaty palms and fingers. The use of liquid chalk is currently required at CityROCK due to its sanitizing benefits and reduced air born chalk particles. Liquid chalk also has some great perks to removing the sunblock you just put on while climbing outdoors before you slip off the first holds of the route.
If you prefer normal crushed chalk for outdoors or to top up on the high walls at CityROCK you will need a chalk bag to put it in. Selecting your chalk bag is all about personal taste and come in a range of colours, sizes and even some fun creatures.
On popular boulder problems and routes, chalk cakes up on the holds, becoming unsightly and making the rock more slippery than ever. Scrub it off with a brush carried in a small sleeve sewn to most chalk bags for that purpose.
Many climbing stores, including CityROCK gear shop hold specials that benefit the first time gear buyer. So if you’re psyched to get a good deal first time off, ask any gear shop assistant about the starter kit specials.