Don’t be fooled into thinking that all you need to rock climb is a few ropes and a rock face. It’s a very kit-intensive sport and can cost substantial amounts to purchase all the gear you need. Until you are really sure it’s the sport for you, it may be worth joining a climbing club and borrowing some kit.
One of the best bits of advice is to ‘try before you buy’ because there is a lot of choice out there. Ask advice from other climbers and do your research to find out what will suit your needs as a new climber. The number of different items of climbing gear, and the names, can be pretty puzzling. Here is a list of some of the items and what they do ...
Climbing harness: This secures the climber into a seated position. It is where all the ropes are attached, to take the strain of weight and keep the climber in a vertical position.
Climbing helmet: Vital bit of safety kit for all levels of climbers. Not only do helmets protect you from injury in falls, it will also prevent falling debris from hitting you.
Rock climbing shoes: Flexible shoes with excellent rubber grip. It’s important to find the right type and size of shoe. Seek advice and shop around.
Ropes for climbing: Probably the most important bit of kit for climbing. Make sure you know the types you need and what you should be looking out for.
Belay device: The belay device is a mechanical system, which is used to hold the climber’s rope in place. Again, there are a number of different varieties of these.
Cam: Cam is a common name for a spring-loaded camming device, which is used as an anchor in the cracks between rocks. To use the cams, you need to pull on the handle to make the head narrow, to be placed into the crack. There are lots of different types of cam units out there, so again seek specialist advice.
Carabiner: You need a carabiner for just about everything in climbing. It’s mainly used for securing the climber when top roping and also for belaying. These large, strong clips snap close and the screw is tightened closed to secure them.
Draws or slings for climbing: These are used to carry gear if the gear loops on your harness are not sufficient anymore. Draws and slings can also be used as extenders.
Hexes: These are another type of anchor. Hexes are mainly used for large cracks and are placed in sideways and moved around until secured.
Climbing nuts: These are one of the cheapest styles of anchors. These are put into the rock in a similar way to hexes.