An Intro to Rock Climbing

For some weekend fun today, l Jake and I went climbing. We have been seriously slacking when it comes to climbing lately. We have just been too busy/lazy to make a trip up to the gym (the one we go to is about 40 minutes from us). Climbing is how we met, so it’s something we enjoy doing together. Since we hadn’t been in so long and I knew he wanted to go more, I got us a 10 trip pass for Christmas. It was actually the only gift he didn’t know what it was..
I figured for anyone who is unfamiliar with climbing, or that has wanted to try climbing but was unsure, I’m sharing some basics about it with you. It’s a great, full body work out, and you will definitely use muscles you never knew you had. But it’s a lot of fun and a great challenge. 

I’ll start off saying that I have, and yes I do mean still to this day, a huge fear of heights. I actually started climbing to try to consistently push myself out of my comfort zone, which is definitely the case. I also like that it’s not only physically demanding, but mentally, too. As the problems (routes) get harder in difficulty, you have to think your way through them more. 

If you’re afraid to start off (like I was), the best way I can encourage you is that the climbing community is amazingly friendly. Everyone is so helpful and just wants to help everyone get better. At least, that’s been my person experience. I had an anxiety attack my first time ever going and a random stranger just stood with me and waited for me to calm down before teaching me some basics that would help me. 

What to Expect:

So, when you get to the gym, they’re going to have you sign a waiver, because every gym does this. It’s for liability because climbing is at your own risk. Typically they give you a tour and explain the basics. If you’re sport climbing (with a rope and harness, as shown below), then they probably have an auto-belay system for you to clip onto your harness to catch you. If not, you’ll need a partner to belay you up and down the wall. Usually this requires a certification of your knowledge of being able to safely belay. Auto-belays are much easier for first time climbers. 

Once you get your harness and shoes, you’re good to start! The easiest routes to start with are the lowest in number. Sport climbing uses what’s called the Yosemite System, and each route is typically color coded so you just follow the same color all the way up. The route will probably have a quirky name (climbers are typically quirky people), and a number on it. A route rated 5.6 is usually the lowest in the gym and the easiest to climb. They go up by tenths (5.7, 5.8, 5.9) until you get to 5.10 where they add a letter behind them. This is the same way of showing difficulty, just within one grade. Each letter means it’s slightly harder. They will have an a, b, c, or d beside them before moving on to the next tenth of a decimal, for example the next level after 5.10d is 5.11a. But that’s for further down the road when you’re getting serious! 

First, get into your harness. Make sure each leg is in it’s on right with someone who works there. Nothing should be twisted or feel really uncomfortable. It might feel weird, but you get used to it. Tighten the leg straps and the waist as much as possible. This thing is holding you, so you want it to be snug! Side note, using chalk is personal preference. Most climbers do because your hands get sweaty and it’s supposed to help your grip. It WILL get all over you, so keep in mind if you care. That’s my chalk bag on the back of my harness. 

Everyone I’ve ever met that was into climbing was super big on safety, because obviously climbing 40 ft inside is no small fall, and then when you go outside to 70+ ft, it’s even more real. The habits you instill at the beginning should always carry through no matter how experienced someone is. You should have a partner you trust always double check you that you’re clipped in safely because it’s easy to overlook something once you get comfortable. Jake constantly double checks my knots, my harness, and my clipping, and I do the same for him. Also, unless you’re bouldering and the walls are only 10 feet high, don’t try to climb without being clipped in. Just don’t. 

Get on the wall and work your way up! Start EASY. I mean as easy as possible. Yes, it’s exciting, but you can easily hurt yourself getting on something harder when you’ve never climbed before. Most easy routes are considered “ladders”, meaning you can just climb up them easily like you would a ladder. This yellow one is a great example of that.

Climbing is a lot of fun, but you WILL get tired quickly! I used to work at a gym and I would see big crossfit guys come in so excited to show everyone up and they couldn’t climb more than 5 routes because this is a COMPLETELY different set of muscles than you’re used to using for typical work outs! PACE YOURSELF. Your hands and forearms will thank you for it, I promise. 

My biggest advice is to get comfortable with falling before you get to the top and freak yourself out. As someone who is afraid of heights, I had to slowly work my way up, fall, then climb back higher the next time, fall again, and keep going until I got more comfortable with it. It WILL happen, so just accept it and trust the auto-belay (or the person belaying you!). 

*Don’t ever let someone belay you that you don’t literally trust with your life.* Many accidents have happened when the belayer wasn’t paying full attention. Auto-belays are capable of catching over 300 lbs., so most people are safe there as long as you’re clipped in correctly. I recommend climbing up a little and falling intentionally so that you know what to expect. When you take a fall, just stick your feet out and walk down the wall.

Once your comfortable and feel like you have the hang of things, feel free to try something a little harder. I recommend climbing at least 2-3 5.6 routes before moving on, just to get your muscles warmed up and used to what’s going on.

If your fingers start to hurt, don’t push yourself too hard. It’s very easy to injure your fingers and they take forever to heal, so ease yourself in! 

And some of Jake, too, just because I enjoy watching him figure his way through a problem. He is a lot stronger than me and therefore climbs harder routes, so it’s fun to see how he decides to approach things. 

Shop my look:

My exact harness here, similar here. My exact shoes here.

If you decide to give climbing a try, let me know how you like it!!

Leave a Comment


  • “Maybe the life you’ve always wanted is buried under everything you own” -Joshua Becker

This quote hits home because I never realized how cluttered our apartment was and how that clutter, even though it was organized, was holding us back in unexpected ways. 
This weekend we re-arranged our house a bit and I’m so in love with the results. We used to have our computer desks both in our bedroom. Although our room is pretty big, having so much furniture made it feel small and cramped. Not at all relaxing. 
Since I’ve been getting rid of things like it’s my job, I sold all of our guest room furniture except the bed, leaving a whole lot of space in there. We moved the desks into that room and it made both rooms feel like a whole new space!! It’s amazing what happens when you let go of things. Happier, quieter, less cluttered. Have a wonderful Monday!
  • “Don’t confuse having less with being less, having more with being more, or what you have with who you are.” -unknown

Happy Friday!!! I’m so excited for the weekend 🙌🏻I love this quote because people sometimes think having and buying more will make them better somehow. Happier, more stylish, cooler, more liked. .

Sadly, in high school, this was true. When I started wearing brand name clothes, people literally treated me completely different. I got invited to more things, different people started talking to me. It was crazy. But those people were not my real friends and I literally haven’t spoken to any of them since high school. So, goes to show how those things don’t actually matter!! Have an awesome weekend 😘
  • In honor of #nationalproposalday I want to give a shoutout to my handsome husband @jacob.thompson87 for totally nailing my engagement ring 💜😍
 I knew I wanted something unique with a colored stone. I didn’t want a big expensive diamond or a ring that would look like anyone else’s. Jake knows my favorite color is purple so he got me a lavender sapphire with a petal halo. I also love my simple twisted wedding band. I took this picture on our honeymoon because I was so happy to finally be able to wear them together! I love how they complement each other. I never want to take them off. Have a wonderful Friday Eve!
  • “Forget the Sales price. Everything is 100% off when you don’t buy it.” .
As a fun challenge for myself, I’m going to do a shopping ban. If you’re familiar with the book “The Year of Less”, Cait goes an entire year without buying anything unnecessary (actually she ends up doing a second year after). I just finished reading it and I love the idea of not buying anything new that I don’t need. 
While I’ve been purging, I’ve seen just how much I really have. There isn’t anything I need. The sales price used to get me. That seductive little red sticker would catch my attention and convince me I needed that piece in my closet because it’s such a great deal. BUT it’s not if you don’t need it. Save your money for things you truly love and put thought into buying, not impulse buys that will hang unworn in your closet.
  • Have you ever been so excited about something that every time you talk to someone who you see could benefit from it, you just want to tell them every single thing about it because you just want to help them? That’s how I feel about minimalism and living with less. It’s changed my life and my mindset in so many ways and all I want to do is tell people about it. But I don’t, unless they ask. 
You can’t force change on people. They have to come to their own conclusions in their own time. They have to have their own inspiration *ah ha!* moments like you had. You can talk until you’re blue in the face, but they won’t HEAR you until they’re ready. The best way to show them how great something is is by being an example! Be the change you wish to see. Maybe you can inspire others with your happiness. Happy Tuesday!
  • “If you don’t have time for things that matter, stop doing things that don’t.” - @bemorewithless .
This weekend (and in general, lately) I took a little break from social media. Since I started my new job, this weekend was the first actual weekend Jake and I have spent together since we got back from our honeymoon in October. Crazy, right?! It was wonderful to spend time with family and get stuff done together and just enjoy the time we had. Making time for what’s important is so crucial to your mental health and the health of your relationships! If you’re too busy, remove the things that aren’t actually important and make time for the things that are.

the latest from @danithomblog