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A Beginner's Guide to Outdoor Rock Climbing - 5 Tips and Essential Gear

A Beginner's Guide to Outdoor Rock Climbing - 5 Tips and Essential Gear

By Karsten Delap


Rock climbing is an exhilarating activity that challenges both the body and mind, allowing you to immerse yourself in natural surroundings. If you're eager to embark on the thrilling and meditative journey of outdoor rock climbing, this comprehensive beginner's guide will equip you with the necessary steps to get started. Learn about the essential gear, find climbing partners, and develop fundamental skills to make the most of your climbing adventures.


  1.     Take a rock climbing class from AMGA certified instructors. 

To learn how to climb safely, it's best to take a class from American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) certified instructors. Look for climbing gyms or outdoor guide services that offer classes for beginners. The instructors will guide you through the basics of tying in, belaying, and what gear you might need or want to purchase. They will also help you develop a path to meet your climbing goals. 

  1.     Acquire high-quality outdoor climbing gear. 

Invest in reliable climbing gear tailored for outdoor climbing. Essential gear includes a climbing helmet, harness, climbing shoes, and a suitable belay device. Most climbing guide services provide gear for beginners to try out before purchasing, which can save you money in the long run.


  1.     Develop fundamental climbing skills at climbing gyms.

Climbing gyms are excellent places to practice and refine your climbing skills. The skills you learn there will reinforce the tools and techniques you'll use at outdoor climbing areas. Most climbing gyms will require you to pass a “belay test.” Your instructional day outside will teach you these skills.

  1.     Find climbing partners and mentors. 

Finding compatible climbing partners with similar risk management and climbing goals can be challenging. Climbing gyms often host social events that can help you connect with like-minded individuals. Joining national or local climbing clubs is another great way to meet other climbers and mentors. Remember that mentors may not be professionals and will not replace the experience and knowledge of a certified guide. However these mentor/mentee relationships can become lifelong friendships! 

  1.     Enjoy the experience and prioritize safety. 

Venturing into outdoor rock climbing offers exciting and rewarding experiences that can last a lifetime. Focus on developing foundational skills, learning safety protocols, connecting with the climbing community, and respecting the environment. Always prioritize safety, and with practice and perseverance, you'll continue to grow as a climber while discovering the beauty of natural rock formations. So gear up, explore, and let the world of outdoor rock climbing inspire you.


Karsten Delap is an accomplished professional mountain athlete and IFMGA Mountain Guide that has climbed and guided all over the world. Residing in North Carolina with his family, he  not only dedicates his time to teaching climbing for Pisgah Climbing School but also selflessly serving his community by volunteering on several rescue teams. You can follow his adventures on his website:

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