Climbing is an easy sport to get into as initially you don’t need anything to get started. If you start bouldering at our local wall Red Goat bouldering you can rent shoes and chalk. As you get more into the different disciplines of climbing different equipment is required.
Once you decide/realise climbing is the greatest sport of all time its worth buying your own shoes and a chalk bag. Climbing shoes are specialised rubber shoes who’s fit is designed to give you maximum grip on the rock, these can cost upwards of £50-£60 but can be less in a sale but even more for a higher quality, more technical style shoes. Your best bet is visiting your local climbing shop and trying on multiple pairs for the best fit.
A chalk bag can cost around £10-£20 and used to store your climbing chalk in (chalk is used to give your sweaty mitts more grip).
One of the first things many people buy. Harnesses last you a while and you’ll spend a fair amount of time in it so its worth thinking about your purchase and buying something that fits and is comfortable. Get one with at least 4 gear loops, you may not think you need them now when you’re just top roping but wait until you’re on a Scottish multi-pitch trad route and you’ve got 6kg of aluminium hanging off it! Harnesses are generally quite similar, with small variations. The best thing you can do is buy a harness that fits you very well but that also has room to adjust should you lose/gain weight!
Extra padded harnesses can be helpful for added comfort as if you’re sport climbing you can end up taking a lot of falls into a harness and hanging around in it shaking out your mega pumped forearms. On the other hand if you think you’re more inclined for trad or winter climbing then a lighter and less padded harness may be preferable as the foam can absorb water.
A belay device is an essential piece of equipment that is used to control the rope while your partner climbs. There are two types of belay device, ATC style plates and assisted braking devices. Belay plates simply rely on the friction generated between the rope and the device to stop a fall. These usually cost £15-£25, for the most versatility I recommend getting an ATC guide, Petzl Reverso or a DMM Pivot. These have two slots allowing for double rope belay and holes to allow you to use the device in auto-block guide mode which is very useful for multi pitch climbing and essential for trad climbing. An ATC should be the next thing you purchase after a harness.
An assisted braking device like a Petzl Gri Gri uses a combination of friction and an internal camming device to stop the rope when a certain amount of force is applied to it (like how a seatbelt jams when you pull hard on it). While they are not hands free or infallible (you must always keep a hand on the breaking strand of rope) they provide a higher margin of security, especially when catching repetitive falls while your partner is red pointing a sport climb. It is however best to learn to use an ATC proficiently first before using an auto-blocking device. These are made by several different brands and cost around £45-60, a well worth purchase if you’re planning on projecting hard sport routes all day long.
A HMS carabiner is large pear shaped locking carabiner intended for use with a belay device (HMS basically means munter hitch in German). They are generally larger than your usual locking carabiner and are what you pair with a belay device. This should be purchased with your belay device!
The DMM HMS Aero screw gate is a standard cheap, cheerful and chunky crab. Also if you like a larger carabiner the DMM Big Boa is just about the largest carabiner you can get, very useful if you’re attaching a lot of clove hitches to it. These cost around £8-12 for a basic screw gate model but if you want something with an auto locking gate (very useful if you’re prone to forget to screw yours shut) then can be more like £15-20.
They’re uncomfortable and you won’t look as cool as you would topless with a beanie on but they’re pretty essential. Helmets have a two fold role, they protect your head from impacts from falling, if you fall awkwardly on a route there is always chance you could invert and slam your head into a rock, and they protect you from rock fall – at single pitch gritstone crag this isn’t too much of a risk but when you start heading out to larger mountain crags you’d be surprised at the amount of loose rock. for example a falling rock that weighs 500g (not a very big rock) that falls 20m would accelerate and generate an impact force of just under 1kN, which is 100kg of force, enough to but a sizeable dent in your noggin.
Helmets start from £30 for a plastic moulded one but can be more expensive for lighter, injection moulded foam ones. Good for protecting your head when taking big whippers where you might bash your conk on the wall or if you’re belaying and your climber keeps pulling out big old chunks of limestone and dropping them on you. Wear one for you mum.
Bouldering is a style of climbing which involves climbing short but often intense routes on boulders or low lying crags protected by a crash pad to cushion falls. Bouldering requires very little equipment, simply shoes, chalk and a crash pad.
The university club owns plenty of bouldering pads so you won’t need your own for YUMC climbing trips but if you did want to buy your own pads start at about £100 and increase according to size.
A small brush can be useful for cleaning chalk and dirt off holds. The brush must be a dedicated climbing brush not a metal bristled brush as it destroys the rock.
Traditional climbing or trad climbing is a style of climbing which involves ‘leading’ up a climbing route, attached a rope and protecting yourself by placing protection as you climb up and clipping it into the rope. A second climber then follows you up ‘cleaning’ the protection.
Sport climbing is lead climbing where as one progresses up a route you clip into bolts which are glued into the wall (rather than placing your own protection in trad). As sport climbing is pre-protected a lot of the falling worries associated with trad climbing are removed allowing you to focus on harder climbing with less risk of hitting the ground.
The club is lucky enough to have a partnership with Nevis Sport, all members are offered a 10% discount code online, simply contact us through our email account to get a code