There are all kinds of different climbers. Indoor boulderers are often amongst the best technical climbers. However, they might have no intention to put on a harness and use a rope. Some top indoor lead climbers have no interest to get started outdoor climbing.
On the other end of the scale, many trad climbers are doing relatively easy routes. Only long-lasting, heavy rain will push them into an indoor gym, if that. (Trad climbing or traditional climbing is where you set your own protection, without any pre-existing bolts or anchors.)
NO ONE SAYS YOU HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO
GET STARTED OUTDOOR CLIMBING
It is perfectly fine to stay indoors for all your climbing activities. However, if, like me, you are planning on using your indoor gym experience as a stepping stone and training practice for the great outdoors, then you’ll probably ask yourself at some stage: How to get started outdoor climbing?
I’m a bad climber with very little experience and skills. I certainly hold no relevant qualifications of any kind. Nothing in this blog post should be relied upon, especially not, where relevant for your safety. It is simply a very short account of my journey. Plus: I’m passing on some advice that has been given to me along the way. There are plenty of omissions and much of the information may be inaccurate or entirely false. Who am I to tell, if I always listened to the right people and always understood everything correctly.
ALREADY AN INDOOR CLIMBER AND THINKING ABOUT GOING OUTDOORS?
THINKING ABOUT PICKING UP CLIMBING AS A NEW HOBBY? THIS POST IS FOR YOU.
My hope is that this write-up will get one or two indoor climbers to venture into the great outdoors. Who knows, maybe there will be someone out there, who has never done any climbing. Perhaps they read this post and realise that climbing might be their thing. Even if indoor gyms are not getting them excited. This blog shows that it is not as hard to get into outdoor climbing as some people think.
FOCUS HERE IS ON LEAD-CLIMBING ON OUTDOOR SPORT CLIMBING ROUTES
This blog post is about lead climbing on outdoor sport climbing routes. It does not cover how to get into trad climbing or outdoor bouldering or how to set up outdoor top-roping, etc.
HOW DO I GET INTO OUTDOOR CLIMBING WITHOUT AN INSTRUCTOR
Why the focus on “independently” climbing outdoors, without an instructor? Well, because at some stage, many climbers will want to be able to go climbing on their own. Just with one or more of their climbing buddies. Anyone and everyone, without any preparation, any skills, any gear of their own, can do a taster climbing course outdoors. (Which doesn’t make it a bad thing. Taster courses are very cool to whet your appetite and to learn some basic skills.)
YOU USUALLY START INDOORS
Most of the outdoor climbers I know, have started with indoor rock climbing. I have blogged about the journey up to the stage where you go outdoor rock-climbing WITH an instructor before, here. So the following few paragraphs are just a brief summary of that article.
INDOOR BOULDERING IS A GOOD WAY TO GET INTO THE SPIRIT
Indoor climbing usually starts with a bit of bouldering. It’s perfect, because you just borrow some climbing shoes and do not need any other gear. You can choose how high up the 5 to 7m tall walls you wish to proceed.
INDOOR TOP-ROPING IS OFTEN THE NEXT STEP
Many folk then move on to so-called top-roping. You guessed it. This type of climbing involves a rope that leads to an anchor at the top of the wall. And then back down. The climber ties into one end of the rope. At the same time, the belayer puts the rope through his belay device on the other end. As the climber climbs, the belayer takes in the rope. Should the climber ever fall, then he or she will fall no more than perhaps 20, 30 or 40cm. This is because there is next to no slack in the rope.
For this type of activity, you can still hire all gear you need each and every time you visit your gym. However, it’s much better value in the long run, to splash out on climbing shoes, a harness, a carabiner, and a belay device. There is no need for a rope, because the ropes have already been pulled through the anchor at the top and back down to the ground on each of the routes.
WHY NOT GIVE INDOOR LEAD-CLIMBING A SHOT
Indoor lead-climbing is usually the next step. Many climbers join a climbing club at this stage. I didn’t manage to find a climbing club that suits my needs, such as easy to reach from where I live, not too centred on outdoor or advanced technical climbing, etc. By way of background, at the time I did not have the intention to go climbing outdoors anytime soon. Instead, I was looking for a club that regularly met at an indoor gym, no matter how many trips they had planned outdoors (or not).
(c) Gilles Mathe
TWO-DAY INDOOR LEAD-CLIMBING COURSE AT THE CASTLE
This is why I chose to do the two-day lead climbing course at The Castle climbing gym in North London. It is really one day, split over either two weekend mornings or two weekend afternoons. It gives you a good understanding of the basics of lead climbing for £95.
TWO-DAY OUTDOOR LEAD-CLIMBING COURSE IN WALES
Initially I had planned to go outdoor lead-climbing directly, without doing an outdoor lead-climbing course first. My climbing buddy at the time (who I still occasionally climb with) was very experienced. This is why I felt comfortable relying on him to teach and supervise me. To make sure nothing could go wrong. In the end, my buddy wasn’t able to join me.
On short notice, I had to hire an instructor who coached me one-on-one for a whole two days in Wales. It was a super-steep learning curve, very intense, and worth every penny (£340 in total).
MAKE FRIENDS AT THE CLIMBING GYM AND ASK THEM QUESTIONS
Be humble, stay on a low profile, but try to make a few friends at the climbing gym. At my gym, The Castle, for example, there are social climbing evenings twice a week, where every competent climber on any skill level is welcome, including beginners. There will be one or more folk from the organisers, London Rock Climbers (LRC), at each event. They will pair you up with a climbing buddy of similar skill level and interest.
You climb for three hours, usually in larger groups, meaning several pairs of LRC climbers on adjacent routes on the same wall. Afterwards, if you’re in, you can join the majority of the group for drinks at a nearby pub. It is a great way to meet other climbers.
I also met new people by doing courses, joining other groups, and simply by getting involved in conversations with strangers at the gym.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CLIMBING BUDDY TO GO OUTDOOR CLIMBING ON YOUR OWN
When going outdoor climbing for the first time on your own, make sure your climbing buddy is experienced, including plenty of recent experience. They need to know exactly what they are doing.
YOU DON’T WANT TO BE TWO NEWBIES LEARNING BY TRIAL AND ERROR
You don’t want to be two newbies learning by trial and error, when one of you is 20 metres up a steep cliff side. My climbing partner Gilles does not, strictly speaking, meet the criteria mentioned. He had done a lot of pretty awesome multi-pitch routes in the French Alps, more than ten years ago. Since then, he had only ever climbed indoors.
YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO TRUST YOUR CLIMBING BUDDY
That said, considering that my friend’s outdoor climbing experience had been on such a high level over so many years, and that I had done two days one-on-one with instructor, it felt safe to make an exception.
We had also been going climbing indoors a lot over the previous months. As a consequence, we knew that we could trust each other. Neither of us had any doubt that the other one would make the effort it takes to ensure we’d stay safe. It was, of course, very nice of Gilles, to give me a chance to climb outdoors with him. He could have easily found someone more experienced and gone to a more interesting crag rather than the baby walls we climbed at. Good on him.
MAKE SURE YOU PREPARE WELL
Well ahead of time, the two of us started to practice rethreading at the different types of anchors our gym had set up at ground level for exactly this purpose. Rethreading refers to the techniques used to pull your rope through the anchor at the top while staying safe.
You can’t just untie the rope from your harness, then lead it through the anchor, then tie in again, because you’d be unsecured while you do it. None of this is rocket science. However, there are a number of different anchors requiring different rethreading techniques. Equally, there are safer and less safe ways of doing the rethreading. We always chose the safest way to do it. Or at least the second-safest way, if the safest way caused to many other problems, like rope and gear ‘traffic jams’ at the anchor or the like.
DON’T BE THAT ONE GUY THAT GETS CLOCKED FOR BEING UNPREPARED
Once you’re 10, 20, or even 30m above the ground dangling from an anchor on the top of a cliff, it’s not a good point in time to get your head around this. Even though this is exactly what you can see happening at the crag. There will always be one or two beginners, who haven’t practiced rethreading enough, before they went out. Where they are lucky, there is not too much wind and they’ll be able to communicate with their belayer, who, hopefully, is more experienced.
SHOUTING MATCHES IN WINDY CONDITIONS
It will then be twenty or more minutes of back-and-forth. “Are you still tied into your harness?” – “Yes.” – “Stay tied in until I tell you to untie.” – “What?” – “Stay tied in until I tell you to untie.” – “I thought I’d untie NOW, because I’m clipped into the left bolt separately from my belay loop, the two bolts are connected, and the rope is clipped to the right bolt with a quickdraw.” – “No, you stay tied in for now.” – “What do I do next, then?” – “Ok. I’ll give you about 1.5m of slack. You pull it up towards you, past the last quickdraw on the right bolt.” – etc. etc. It can be hugely entertaining with a lot of unintentional humour, tension, suspense, and surprise effects.
EVERYONE AT THE CRAG IS USUALLY VERY FRIENDLY
We found the climbing community to be super easy-going, supportive, and pretending not to hear the back-and-forth right next to their routes. Some were offering advice, where they felt something didn’t go quite the right way.
WATCH YOUTUBE VIDEOS
Over the weeks leading to our trip, I must have watched at least 24 hours of YouTube videos about all kinds of aspects of outdoor lead-climbing and about other things that are relevant for the trip. I learned that new ropes often feel very different when belaying. That for beginners it is better to buy a standard 10mm rope, not a thinner rope like the ones used by the pros. I learned about how resilient my equipment, including my rope, is. What type of action to avoid in order to keep the gear from getting damaged. For example, you are supposed to make sure that no pressure is put onto any carabiner by a protruding rock. Despite already having used my Grigri for lead-belaying indoors, I watched even more videos to be absolutely certain, that my technique was as safe as it could get.
NEVER GO OFF-BELAY ON A SINGLE-PITCH
As with many things, I often learn the most from mistakes, in this case, mistakes, others have made. There are some great videos, that go through mistakes that have killed people or led to injury. Often they have to do with miscommunication or simply too much and too unstructured communication. Some climbers, for example, wrongly shout down “Off-Belay” when they have secured their harness directly to the anchor. However, this can lead to the belayer literally TAKING THE CLIMBER OFF-BELAY, i.e. no longer belaying them from below. On single-pitch climbs (and you probably don’t want to do double- or multi-pitches on your first outing) the climber should NEVER go off-belay.
SIMPLE, STRAIGHT-FORWARD, PRE-AGREED COMMANDS
Gilles and I agreed a few very simple, straight-forward commands, such as “take”, “tight”, “slack”, “clipping”, “clipped”, “watch me”, “falling”, “rock”, “above”, “stop”, and “lower.” The last thing you need is someone starting to fill the conversation with anecdotes or banter, while your life is on the line. So much depends on communication.
Even where weather conditions make it impossible to hear your partner, whatever you guys have agreed for such a situation beforehand, will be vital. Again, it’s communication. You should avoid longer routes whenever there are strong winds. This will ensure that you should be able to communicate with your partner throughout the climb.
BELAY CARABINERS TO AVOID WITH GRIGRI, TRAD VS SPORT GEAR
I realised I needed to avoid certain belay carabiners, as they can, in a worst case, break a Grigri. Even though I was going to do sport climbing for now, I watched a lot of trad videos, in order to determine where I should buy trad gear rather than sport gear. You want to get into trad climbing via sport climbing? That means you might want to buy trad gear right away, where possible, so you don’t have to buy two separate sets of gear. One for sport climbing, one for trad.
PICK THE RIGHT CLIMBING REGION AND CRAG AND WALL
Everyone will have slightly or even dramatically different preferences here. For Gilles and me, it was clear very early on that we’d go to the Isle of Portland.
SPORT CLIMBING IN PORTLAND
Portland is by far the most popular sport climbing region in Southern England. 95% of the routes are sport climbing. There are more than a thousand routes spread over the whole island. For beginners like me and for experienced climbers with no recent outdoor experience, the obvious choice is The Cuttings. The name derives from the fact that the mining company which operated the quarries in this area, had to cut through the rock in order to make space for railway tracks. In a next step, the railway was then used to transport the Portland Stone away from the quarries.
THE CUTTINGS, BONSAI, THE BOWER
This area has by far the largest number of easy routes. Within The Cuttings, we decided to start with a wall called Bonsai, which is widely known to be the beginners’ wall. On the second day, Sunday, we did The Bower, a mere five minutes’ walk from Bonsai. It’s easy to miss the short, steep, tiny, grown-over path up over a rock that leads to a ledge a little bit further down on the other side. This ledge is half-way up a sea-facing rock-cliff and reaches into the cliff for about one third of the width.
A THREE IS A THREE, A SIX IS A SIX, OR ISN’T IT
Portland has a reputation for its sandbagged routes. You can speak with pretty much any climber you’ll meet at the crag. They will all agree. A Portland 3B feels more like a 4A or even 4B somewhere else. A Portland 5C feels more like a 6B elsewhere. This makes it even more impressive that there are a good many 8s in Portland, and elite climbers who actually work their way up those routes.
Bear in mind that the currently most difficult route in the world, is a 9C. The most difficult route in Portland is a – possibly slightly sandbagged – 8B (Vespasian, Coastguards North). With a bit of luck, you’ll spot some top talent in Dorset, that’s for sure. Personally, I was shocked how very few easy routes there are in comparison to high 6s and 7s. The vast majority of routes are for advanced (or elite) climbers.
GEAR YOU NEED TO GET STARTED OUTDOOR CLIMBING
Outdoor sport climbing requires a lot more gear than indoor sport climbing, even indoor lead climbing (as opposed to bouldering or top-roping).
The rope you might have purchased for indoor lead climbing? It is likely to be too short for many or at least some outdoor climbs. Indoors, you’re usually good to go with as little as 30 metres. Outdoors, you should have at least 50 metres. I initially planned to get 70 metres, just to be able to do even the longest routes. In the end I settled for 60 metres, because I found a deal with a 40% discount. This brought the price down to about £130.
Now I’m thinking that 70 metres would have been better, as there are plenty of routes longer than 30 metres. The rope will go up to the anchor and back down to the ground when you’re being lowered by your belayer.
QUICKDRAWS COME IN ALL SHAPES AND FORMS
Next, I purchased about 20 quickdraws. The longest routes in Portland currently require 18 quickdraws. Many of the beginner routes only require 4, 5 or 6 quickdraws. I decided to go for the significantly lighter trad quick draws. This is because in the long run I want to switch from sport to trad climbing. Personally, I went for quickdraws in different lengths. In hindsight, alpine draws (with slings that allow you to adjust the length) would have been the best choice, at least for half the draws or so.
GET MAILLONS, IN CASE YOU HAVE TO ABORT AN ATTEMPT
Several climbers I consulted told me to get a few maillons, also called quick links. Those tiny no-frills quasi-carabiners do not have a gate, only a gap. You screw the lock or threaded sleeve open wide enough to slip a rope or bolt through. Then close it again. Most importantly, maillons sell for under £3. You see yourself forced to abandon a route, i.e. do a U-turn half way up the wall? Rather than leaving a quickdraw (£9 to £20) dangling from the uppermost bolt, you leave the maillon behind as an anchor.
SLINGS AND SLINGERS
Slings are useful to have, which is why I purchased a couple of them. I went for two 120cm (meaning length of the 0-shaped sling, the actual linear length of cord is twice this: 240cm) slings. Instead I should have gone for one 120cm and one 60cm sling, I think, but never mind.
Fun fact: the local residents of Portland used to be called ‘slingers’ by those from other parts of the country. This is because in the olden days some Portlanders used slings to throw stones at unwelcome visitors. When we visited, we always found the locals very friendly and there certainly have not been any slinging incidents in recent decades, as far as I know.
A GUIDE BOOK IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL
You’ll need a guide book. For many climbing areas, including Portland, there are several options available. I opted for the Rockfax guide book for £33, which also covers Swanage, Isle of White, and Lulworth.
HELMET, EXTRA CARABINERS, LANYARD, CLIPPING STICK
Like many people, I already owned a helmet. You’ll need a few extra carabiners. Many people also purchase a lanyard or cowstail. A rope tarp is very useful, or you could use an IKEA bag (they seem very popular). On this occasion, I tried to use a garbage picker (a stick with a ‘gun handle’ grip on one end and a ‘grabbing mechanism’ on the other end) as clipping stick.
However, it turned out to be entirely useless. Might be worth investing in an actual clipping stick, even though they are rather pricey at around £60 to £85. They enable you to place your rope, already clipped into a quickdraw, onto a bolt further up. Most people only use them for the first two bolts. Some use them for bolts further up.
HOW TO GET TO PORTLAND FROM LONDON
For us, the trip started after work last Friday night at 7:00 at a car rental firm at Heathrow. Choosing this pick-up location enabled us to return the car on a Sunday evening and to avoid the inner-city traffic. Splashing out for an extra day might have been worth it, in hindsight. Now we had to leave Portland by 3pm in order to make it safely back to Heathrow by the drop-off deadline of 7:00pm, allowing for heavy traffic.
In the past we had often been downgraded (we don’t usually mention our blog). On this occasion, we were upgraded two levels to a full-size SUV. Perhaps not ideal for the environment or the gas bill, but certainly fun and a good omen.
From London you can expect the car ride to take about 2h45m to 5 hours, depending on traffic. Public transport is shockingly convenient. There are frequent direct trains from Waterloo to Weymouth, which take between 2h40m and 2h55m. From Weymouth there are bus services to next-door Portland, simply across Chesil Beach.
MORE THINGS TO DO IN POOLE OR BOURNEMOUTH
We didn’t want to arrive too late on a Friday night. Also, as mentioned above, Ellie wanted to be close to an attractive bigger town. This is why we decided to stay in Sandbanks, an hour closer to London. The hotel was not cheap. Would Gilles and I have been going on our own, we would have booked ourselves dormitory beds on the Isle of Portland itself.
TWO FULL DAYS FOR THE BOYZ
THREE HOURS WITH INSTRUCTOR FOR THE LADY
Gilles & I did the full two days. Ellie spent most of the time in and around Sandbanks, Studland Beach, and Lulworth Cove, walking along the beaches, taking pictures, eating cake. On Sunday morning, my wife came with Gilles and me to have three hours with an instructor.
This meant that Gilles and I could do some climbing of our own on routes nearby, while the instructor taught Ellie the basics of outdoor sport climbing. Hayden, from Southside Climbing (Wakeham, Portland), turned out to be great at teaching at beginner level. We also found him to be extremely good value for money at £75 for three hours. We might use him again in London, where he occasionally offers sessions at Vauxwall East bouldering gym.
BEGINNERS’ BIDS AT BONSAI
Finally, we arrived in Portland on Saturday morning. It immediately wiped any worries from our minds when all the other climbers at the crag we had chosen (Bonsai) were super-friendly. We soon got chatting with them. About the different routes, cruxes, difficulty, grading, the weather, where everyone travelled from, and so on.
A SURPRISE ENCOUNTER
It was a very pleasant surprise, that Hayden happened to be at ‘our’ wall with other clients. He gave us several valuable pointers and also set us up on top rope on one of the routes. This meant that we wouldn’t have to dive into lead climbing straight away. Top roping is so much easier than lead climbing, even more so outdoors, where most of us try to avoid falls like the devil avoids holy water.
Try to be considerate towards the other climbers and local residents. For example, don’t put up one or more top ropes on the most interesting routes on the wall and then stay there for hours. Other climbers are likely to want to climb those routes too. When setting up top ropes, use two quickdraws, not the metal ring of the existing anchor.
Try to avoid doing a Number Two at or near the crag. Use the toilets in the nearby villages. The one at the Portland Museum, right next to Church Ope Cove Car Park, ten minutes’ walk from Bonsai, was closed when we visited. We asked the friendly barlady at the local pub if we could use her guest toilet instead, and she didn’t mind. We left £2 at the counter to say thank you. The guide book contains more guidance on rules and etiquette.
Don’t take these things light-hearted. In the past, some crags had been closed to climbers, because locals had been unhappy with some climbers’ behaviour. It took a lot of effort to win the residents’ trust back.
GET STARTED OUTDOOR CLIMBING – OUTDOOR VS INDOOR CLIMBING
Everyone seems to agree that outdoor lead climbing is so much harder than indoor lead climbing. I know climbers who confidently climb 7Bs indoors, but won’t touch any 6s outdoors. Others climb all types of 6s indoors without issues, but stick with 3s and 4s on the crag. Most routes at The Cuttings are reasonably well set and protected. A local charity regularly replaces older bolts with new ones (donate to them, if you can). There are a few nasty ledges you should avoid when falling, but the risk of hitting the deck at this crag, seems low.
Despite this relatively high level of safety, most climbers still don’t want to push it too hard. You are aiming for a higher level of control than you would indoors.
(c) Gilles Mathe
(NOT) IN IT TO WIN IT
My climbing over the weekend was very enjoyable and a whole lot of fun, but it was extremely unambitious. Top-roping, of which I did quite a bit, was easier. But when lead climbing, I often didn’t manage to get up all the way to the anchor on this trip. It was a great experience placing quickdraws out there, ‘in the wild.’ Finding holds on real rock. Holds, that weren’t colour-coded. That didn’t allow you to cheat by ‘rainbowing’ or using holds of other colours. I believe I learned a lot in terms of climbing, and even more so, belaying. [UPDATE 24/03/23 – Was diagnosed with a broken rib and tissue inflammation earlier today. Due to an incident prior to this trip. Kind of explains why a bad climber like myself produces atrocious climbing results. Not bad ones, as you would expect. Lol.]
NO NEED FOR MAILLONS WHEN YOU GET STARTED OUTDOOR CLIMBING
Being a much better, much more experienced climber, Gilles made sure we never had to leave any gear on a wall, that we cleaned everything up. He also climbed some more difficult routes, which was a steep learning curve as a belayer.
CHALLENGING LEAD-BELAYING WHEN YOU GET STARTED OUTDOOR CLIMBING
I vividly remember one occasion, where my buddy’s last quickdraw was about two metres above a vicious, wide rock ledge. While he was trying to place the next quickdraw, perhaps another two metres higher, he started to run into trouble. I could tell, that his hands’ grip of the crimpy holds was loosening and he was tensing up, shaking a bit.
BETTER A HARD CATCH THAN HITTING THE LEDGE
In my mind I ran through the procedures: Should Gilles slip and fall, then I’d do the opposite of what I’d do indoors. Instead of ‘providing a soft fall’ I’d very quickly step away from the wall and take in as much slack as possible. This should ensure that his feet would not hit the ledge at great speed. Instead, my friend would have decelerated and the impact force should be minimal.
BALANCING ‘A FAIRLY TIGHT ROPE’ WITH ENOUGH SLACK TO ALLOW MOVEMENT
There were various other tricky belaying situations. For example, your climbing buddy might ask you to keep a fairly tight rope along a risky section of the route, because they want to make sure they won’t fall far. At the same time, you, as a belayer, will still have to make sure that the climber always has enough slack to make his way up the wall. If there is not enough slack, the climber will be pulled back, off the wall and almost certainly fall. The exact outcome to be avoided.
CLIMBING AT THE CUTTINGS FELT SAFE AT ALL TIMES
Since we had come to Portland, reasonably well-prepared, climbing without an instructor never felt unsafe or risky or awkward. Gilles and I had every confidence in each other’s belaying skills and our own rethreading skills. We also made sure we didn’t take any silly risks, such as pushing ourselves too hard in terms of difficulty of the climbs. Luckily we did not encounter any badly bolted routes. However, should we have come across one, then we would have ruled it out straight away.
Ellie enjoyed her three-hour climbing course. Sunday’s location was much more exciting than the previous day’s: The Bower.
The Bower is about a five minutes’ walk or less away from Bonsai, and also forms part of The Cuttings. It is reasonably easy to spot the big bump on the water-facing side of the track. The bump is the top of The Bower, a 20m tall vertical cliff. There are routes all the way from the bottom to the top. We decided to go for the shorter routes that start from a wide ledge that reaches into the cliff from the left-hand side (if you’re looking at the cliff from the sea) for about 8 metres.
GET STARTED OUTDOOR CLIMBING: GOOD PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES
It’s known to be good for photos, because even though you might be climbing just a metre off the ledge, if your camera has the right angle, no one will see the ledge. Even if you’re a very unskilled climber like me, you’ll be able to take cool pictures. It will look like you have already climbed up 10 metres of a scary-looking 20-metre cliff.
PORTLAND TOTALLY ROCKS – WE’LL BE BACK FOR MORE CLIMBING SOON
We are already planning our next visit to the Isle of Portland for some more climbing. Chances are, we will be a bigger group, then, and Ellie will join us again.
Looking for more outdoor adventures? Check out my blog posts about jetskiing, skiing, jetlevving, flyboarding, caving, open-water swimming, running, packrafting, canoeing, ocean rowing, quad-biking, motocrossing, and mountain-biking.
All are great tips Stefan because I wondered what it took to get going with climbing. Starting indoors builds confidence. Picking a partner and prepping thoroughly also makes perfect sense because people and prep-work dissolve some fears associated with….falling LOL.
I gazed at some cliffs yesterday here in Turkey. Ample opportunities here on the Mediterranean but more for experts I believe.
Cheers, Ryan. I’m guessing you should definitely give climbing a shot, if you’re that close to such a beautiful climbing location, no? There is this thing called Deep Sea Soloing where you don’t even need any gear, because as long as you’re climbing sea cliffs and the water below you is deep enough, you’ll stay safe, even if you fall.
(For the avoidance of doubt: lots of preparation and detailed information is required before any attempt; currents can be very dangerous, the tides may reduce the depth of the water to unsafe levels, there may be ledges in the cliffs onto which you can fall etc. etc., just thought I’d mention this climbing technique, in case you might be interested.)
…and it’s DWS, deep WATER soloing, not Deep Sea Soloing haha… I’m very much a novice myself lol..
Really enjoyed reading this post. It had loads of great advice for the novice climber, especially the steps for getting started and then making progress. It’s lovely that the climbing community is so supportive and friendly and it sounds as though you and Gilles developed a system that was practical, sensible and safe. Portland looks like a fantastic place to go climbing and the weather looked absolutely perfect! So glad you enjoyed your weekend, we’ll look forward to reading about your further Portland adventures.
Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Mitch. Yes, Gilles & I had a great time and are already planning to return to the island with two further climbing buddies. That time around, we will stay in bunk beds in a bunk house on the island, so much cheaper and convenient. 🙂
You know I have done all kinds of adventurous things. And rock climbing has been on my list for a long time. But sadly I am not past the fitness and strength level to take it up. But I love to watch and read about the thrill of clinging to rock and scaling the heights. A great post to help people get started if they want to try this new adventure activity. Glad you had a great trip to try outdoor climbing. And were encouraged enough to be planning another trip.
Cheers, Linda. Yes, it really is quite a thrill to climb up those cliffs. I was so impressed with Ellie, too, because she had only been climbing twice in her whole life, and only ever indoors. I enjoyed following your adventures around the southern tip of South America and beyond, recently. What an amazing trip.