Indoor climbing is an easily accessible activity which is fun and highly beneficial for experienced mountaineers and first-time climbers alike (whether you’re planning on eventually rock climbing in the great outdoors or not). Gareth Davidson from Snow+Rock tells us what to bring and what to expect from our first session on the indoor wall.

What are the Beneftis of Indoor Climbing?

Climbing has many mental and physical benefits. It’s also a great social activity. Indoors, you can climb no matter what the weather is outside. The holds are kinder to the hands compared to being outdoors, so it gives you a chance to strengthen and condition the body (mainly the fingers) for the rigours of outdoor climbing. Depending on your level of experience and reasons for climbing, most climbing centres cater for all climbing styles: top roping, lead climbing, bouldering, traversing and, in some cases, ice climbing.


Go in with an open mind and give it time – climbing has a lot of failure, but you will get better. To save energy, work out routes before you attempt them!

You can also gain instruction from the wall or from experienced climbers. The routes for indoor walls are created by experienced climbers (or ‘route setters’) simulating movements they’ve found when climbing outside. This helps beginners develop movement patterns in climbing, while it also benefits experienced climbers who are training for routes outdoors.

What do I Need for my First Session?

Wear shorts or tracksuit bottoms and a comfortable, loose tee. Climbing centres hire out shoes, harnesses and sometimes belay devices and carabiners. The only thing climbing centres do not have are chalk bags. Have some lessons with an experienced climber and watch how other climbers move on the wall.

What Climbing Shoes do I Need?

Before taking the plunge, hire the shoes. If you do want to buy some, go for basic entry-level shoes that fit. Climbing shop staff will be able to offer you advice as the sizing is very different from buying the normal shoes you walk around in every day.


Rory McCrea, from Snow+Rock Covent Garden, adds: “Be prepared for some early discomfort. Climbing shoes are supposed to be tight, but not painful. Don’t get too hung-up on shoes marketed as ‘indoor shoes’ or what you might have seen high-level climbers wearing – everyone’s feet are different. Try a couple of pairs on in-store and see what work best for you!”


What is the Best Way to Warm Up and Warm Down?

Mobilise the joints and raise your body temperature. Do small rotational movements for your joints – ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, elbows, wrists and neck. You can then either run on the spot or skip to raise your body temperature. After, choose easy routes to warm-up on before trying anything more demanding (you can even use the traverse wall for this). The warm-down with a few easy climbs and dedicate some time to stretching your muscles to help aid better recovery.

What Climbing Centres Would You Recommend in the UK?

Your local wall should be the first you approach! Ours is Craggy Island in Guildford.

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