Progression #1 First Time Climber

Beginner climbers on auto belays

So, you want to try rock climbing? Perfect, when you climb with Vertical Endeavors in the Twin Cities you have four facilities to choose from: VE St. Paul, VE Minneapolis, VE Bloomington, and VE Twin Cities Bouldering. Another gym in Duluth, and one more in Glendale Heights (Chicagoland). So how do you decide where to go? Do you want to go bouldering? Rope Climb? Are you fearless and want to climb to dizzying heights? Scared of heights and want to stay close to the ground? All of our Twin Cities locations have a mix of bouldering and rope climbing, except Twin Cities Bouldering, which is a bouldering only facility.  Duluth and Glendale Heights have both rope and bouldering walls.

If you can climb a ladder, you can rock climb

Assuming it’s your first time and you are coming in with zero climbing experience we won’t be top roping quite yet, we will stick to the auto belay systems. Whether you are coming in alone or with friends, auto belays and bouldering will be our go to activities. Auto belays allow us to climb to the top of the wall with no partner. You clip in, ascend the wall, and when you are ready to come down the auto belay will gently lower you. All you have to do is clip in and climb up!  Bloomington has 27 auto belays, Minneapolis has 24, St. Paul, has 15, Duluth has 12, and Glendale Heights has 35. Auto belays feature routes geared to climbers with little to no experience. The perfect place to start your indoor rock climbing journey.

All of these facilities offer bouldering walls as well. Bouldering is climbing with no ropes above a padded surface. If you are seeking a bouldering only experience, and know ropes aren’t for you, check out Twin Cities Bouldering. Featuring 18,000 square feet of bouldering terrain, a yoga studio, and full fitness area. TCB isn’t just the ultimate bouldering experience, it’s a one stop shop for a full day of fun. Pair your climbing session with a yoga class, or a full work out.

Now that you’ve decided where to climb, let’s get you prepared to climb. You’ll want to wear comfortable clothing you can move around in. Clothing that doesn’t impede movement is best. You will need to sign a liability waiver, do it online before your visit or at one of our waiver stations in the gym. Once that is complete, you will do a short facility orientation, and then your climbing journey begins! Your last decision will be to get rental shoes or not. While you can climb in sneakers, we recommend climbing shoes. They will give you a better grip on the holds, and let you stand on smaller foot holds. If you have sweaty hands consider grabbing chalk too, it can help improve your grip, which can help improve your confidence on the wall.

Now you are ready to find your first climb. Where will you go? What will you climb? Start easy, look for something with large easy to grab (positive) holds, routes marked with a 5.6 (rope) or V0 (boulder) tag. If you are starting on the auto belays, an easier route with good holds is a good way to start moving your body and getting used to heights. If you can climb a ladder, you can rock climb. We recommend getting several easier routes under your belt before you start working up the grades. Once you feel comfortable seek out the next level. Climbing is about having fun and challenging yourself. Falling is okay and encouraged. Have a positive mindset, if you have never climbed before it’s going to feel a little weird at first, moving smoothly and confidently high off the ground is a rare skill to have when first starting out. Have fun, climbing is supposed to be fun, if you are climbing with a group encourage each other, talk about the moves, and strategize for success.

Are you hooked yet? Climbing is addicting, if you’ve caught the climbing bug and know you want to come back here are your next steps to consider. Climb more regularly, climbing two to four times a week is a great way to build the strength and technique to start progressing to more challenging climbs. Get top rope belay certified, this will dramatically increase the number of routes available to you and expose you to more wall angles. You will also be able to more effectively work and project challenging climbs, instead of falling and lowering immediately on a climb, you can hang out, rest, and try the moves over and over again.   

We look forward to meeting you and seeing the start of your climbing journey! See you on the wall!

Climbing is dangerous, it involves inherent and other risks and cannot be eliminated. The information presented here does not describe all of the risks associated with climbing and is not intended to replace or supersede expert instruction and training.

© 2024 Vertical Endeavors, Inc. All rights reserved. The contents of this article, photographs, and graphical representations are protected by U.S. and International copyright laws. Reproduction and distribution, in part or whole, without written permission from Vertical Endeavors are prohibited. The opinions and information contained in this article are for entertainment and informative purposes. They are those of the author and may not represent those of Vertical Endeavors, and do not necessarily reflect the ideas, ideologies, opinions, or points of view of the organization, affiliates, owners, stockholders, partners, suppliers, licensors, or staff. Under no circumstances shall Vertical Endeavors or any entity that is, has been, or will be affiliated be liable for any indirect, incidental, consequential, special, or exemplary damages arising out of or in connection with the information contained in this article.

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