Published:: 8th August 2016

5 tips for moving from plastic to rock… safely & smartly

We can see it in your eyes…

You’re hungry for the real thing!

Getting out of the gym and onto a real rock face is what climbing is all about, but it’s also pretty daunting.

Most people are pretty nervous about moving to outdoor climbing and that means they are smart! Outdoor climbing involves a lot more risk than indoor climbing, and if you don’t manage that risk properly, well….. it can kill you.

Moving to real rock is an important step in any climber’s journey, so how do you do it smart and safe?

Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Do A Course – Sure, your mate goes out climbing all the time and he seems to know what he’s doing… I mean, he hasn’t had any accidents…yet. So is he highly skilled? Or just lucky?

The fact is, you don’t know. The only way to be sure that you’re learning the safest, most up to date techniques is to take a course with a professional company.

This isn’t a sales pitch, right now Hangdog isn’t offering a course like this.* Our guided outdoor climbing days are designed to give you a taste of the outdoors but we’d still recommend taking a course before you venture out with friends or by yourself.

2. Don’t go chasing grades – Once you do get out on the real rock don’t go trying to push the grades, take it down a notch, get comfortable with climbing and your surroundings. Climb something easy, well below your limit that you know you can climb. There’s a lot more going on when you are outside so you don’t want to have to worry the actual climbing part.

3. Learn about your gear – if you’re relying on equipment to keep you safe then it’s a smart idea to learn about how it works and what is is/isn’t capable of. Check out the manufacturers standards on their website on how it should be used. And, make sure you buy reputable equipment from a reputable supplier – your life literally depends on it.

4. Be prepared – Research the area (crag) you’ll be climbing and check out the routes and access. Will it be a long walk in? Are there toilets or running water close by? Is there phone reception?

Pack a small first aid kit and have a plan if any incidents occur. And of course, check the weather and prepare any clothing or equipment you might need.

5. Practice what you can on the ground first – try knuckling down these few key aspects of climbing before you head to the crag for the first time:

  • Tying in – if you don’t have a rope you can practice tying knots with a shoelace or a piece of string.
  • Clipping – over time this becomes habit. If you haven’t done it before it can be easy to get stressed and fumble when you clip. Get familiar with this habit beforehand on the ground. Often you’ll be better with one hand, so practice with both.
  • Cleaning a route – learn this before you leave the ground. When you put it into practice on rock, do it on a route where you can easily see and speak to your climbing partner.

Above all… take time enjoying the learning process go and explore! Climb different styles, on different types of rock and go to a variety of crags.

Be safe and happy climbing. 🙂