Keep An Eye Out For Innovation
“One change we are seeing across the outdoor industry is a move towards more sustainable products and practices,” says Eleanor. “Keep an eye out for Boreal’s Beta Eco climbing shoe, which uses recycled materials and is vegan. On the hardware side, Edelrid’s HMS Bulletproof Eco is one to try – it’s the brand’s first non-anodised carabiner. It features a steel insert to prevent premature wear and, by reducing the damage caused by rope friction and bolt hangers, it extends the carabiner’s lifespan.” Daniel is also a fan of Secret Stuff’s Chalk Cream, a no-fuss liquid chalk.
Hone Your Technique
Climbing may appear basic, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. “A lot of beginners tend to climb with their arms and forget about their legs, when in fact your legs are actually much stronger, and more important on less steep terrain,” Thilo says. When hanging from holds, try to keep your arms straight, rather than flexed, which will give your muscles a chance to rest rather than being constantly engaged. Eleanor adds that it’s also important to think about your feet. “Often overlooked when starting out, learning how to weight your feet is key. Once you’ve got through a couple of sessions, try incorporating some footwork drills into your warm-up and remember to always stretch after a session. Improving flexibility is a reliable way to enhance your climbing abilities,” she advises.
Just don’t make the classic beginners’ mistake of not looking after your skin, she says. “Whether indoor plastic or outdoor rock, both take a toll on the state of your hands. Beginners will find that it isn’t strength or tiredness that finishes a session, everything can just get too painful to hold. A common skin injury is a flapper, which happens when a section of the skin gets ripped open. It exposes the sensitive layer of skin underneath and leaves a loose flap semi-attached. Finger tape is your friend – use it to keep a plaster on or to protect other blistered fingers from the same fate.”
Once you’ve built strength and technique, and learned the skills to climb safely, consider taking things outside. “Climbing outdoors is all about safety,” Eleanor stresses. “It’s about having the knowledge and equipment needed to keep you safe. Climbing with friends who have more experience – and the gear to go with it – is another great way to ease yourself into climbing outdoors.” Eleanor adds that climbing outdoors brings with it the risk of the elements. “It’s not just rain you want to avoid. While spending a day in the sun may sound appealing, struggling to hold onto sweaty rock is no fun. The UK has various types of rock, each with its own set of characteristics. Take gritstone, for example, a Peak District classic: a coarse-grained sandstone variety, it provides plenty of friction, which is maybe why so many climbers head for the grit in the depths of winter.”
Invest In Outdoor Kit Too
If you’re bouldering outdoors, your kit requirements are minimal, says Eleanor. “Assuming you have a decent pair of shoes, the next thing to invest in would be a bouldering mat. Black Diamond and Organic Climbing have some great options. If you are roped climbing, the priority should be your safety trio: a harness, helmet and belay device. When it comes to brands, look out for Black Diamond, Petzl and DMM.” Thilo says it also pays to think about your apparel. “Look to clothes that don’t restrict movement and keep you warm. Arc’teryx’s Incendo Pants are my go-to – they’re light and super comfortable. The Aptin Zip Hoody is my favourite mid-layer when it’s too cold to climb in a t-shirt.”