A Bolder Move: An Easy Step to Rock Climbing for Beginners

Ever had the urge — but maybe not the backbone — to give rock climbing a try? Bouldering may be your way in.

While indoor and outdoor rock climbing for beginners can be daunting, with all the heights and gear and sheer drop-offs, bouldering is less intimidating. It’s a relatively low-to-the ground version of climbing that requires almost no gear and risks relatively little chance of a major fall. It’s essentially a form of rock climbing for beginners that’s done without ropes and outdoors on natural boulders or indoors on manmade ones. Bouldering can be a great way for newcomers to get comfortable on the rocks or for seasoned climbers to hone their chops in relative safety.

What You Need to Begin Bouldering

To be honest, you don’t need much. Most climbers wear comfortable clothes they can be active in: t-shirts, shorts, hiking pants. Though not necessary for first-timers, a pair of basic climbing shoes, which come with rubber soles formulated to help improve traction on the rock, make for much more natural climbing.

To improve their grips, many climbers dust their fingers with chalk from a chalk bag. It helps keep hands dry so they get better purchase on the rock. In addition, some climbers who might be heading higher up use a bouldering mat or crash pad to add a little protection in case of a fall.

And, on top of the social benefits of climbing with a friend, having a spotter to keep an eye out and assist in case of a fall is always a good idea.

rock climbing for beginners

Tips to Bouldering or Rock Climbing for Beginners

When bouldering in a gym, routes or “problems” are usually marked with colored tape. Outdoors, routes are less formal but often still established. Start with an easier route or simply hop on the rock and work your way around to get comfortable. Use your feet extensively, placing them in holds, keep your arms straight as much as possible to avoid fatigue and keep your hips close to the wall to help save your energy.

Where to Go Bouldering

The Northwest has an avid and active scene, with plenty of options for indoor and outdoor bouldering and rock climbing for beginners.

Indoors Bouldering in Portland

Indoors Bouldering in Seattle

Outdoors Bouldering Near Portland

Outdoors Bouldering Near Seattle

Have any tips to try bouldering or rock climbing for beginners? Let us know on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!