The Hobby Hangar – Beginner Indoor Rock Climbing

The Hobby Hangar – Beginner Indoor Rock Climbing

It’s a beautiful Wednesday and the beginning of a new series of posts the Hobby Hangar!

In the Hobby Hangar I’ll be posting a small write up about a new hobby I’ve started. I’ll talk about why I started, my thoughts were after the first day, and tips for other new comers.

Having a load of hobbies is one reason why I started this blog. As such, I’ll likely be putting these up here and there as I start new hobbies. There definitely won’t be a set schedule since new hobbies will likely have some time in between.


Just last week I was invited out to go rock climbing with a few friends. I have always loved climbing things. My friends and I used to pretty consistently play games of Ground Stomp (*) when we were younger and it was one of my favorite ways to be active.

While indoor climbing is definitely way different, there are some inherent similarities so I figured I would enjoy it!

(*) I tried to look it up, but apparently it might not be known by this name. Ground Stomp is essentially a game of Marco Polo on a kids jungle gym. Dangerous, but fun!

A Bit About Indoor Climbing

The style of climbing we did was done without any ropes or harnesses. What I didn’t know was that this is actually called bouldering instead of rock climbing.

I think a lot of people, myself included, have a bit of a skewed idea of what climbing is. That there’s a wall and some rocks on it and you just have to climb up as high as you can. If you do this, you will definitely get some funny looks!

Each wall has a set of different rocks often sorted by colors with “start” and “finish” holds labeled. A run or “problem” is starting with both hands on the starting hold. A hold is what most non-climbers call a rock!

From there you’ll work your way up to the finish hold, but only using rocks of the same color. Again you’ll be ending with both hands on the same hold.

Every run is different, with different types of holds requiring a different plan of attack.

To help with figuring out how difficult a problem is the V-scale is used. The V-scale is a value given to each problem from V0-V8 with V0 being the easiest.

Thoughts and Tips from the End of my First Day

Limber Up

Holy cow, my arms were DEAD.

You never realize how untrained a certain muscle group really is until you’ve been forced to use it excessively. Even at the end of my first couple of attempts I could feel my forearms seizing up at the intense usage. It was brutal to say the least.

I’m pretty sure I was sore for the next 3-4 days. I’m just glad that I healed back up in time for the next week’s session. While this is partially due to a lack of usage, I should definitely look to warm up and stretch a bit more before getting straight into tougher problems.

Controlled Exertion

One of the tips I got from a friend who had been doing this for some time was this.

“When you’re on the wall, you want to spend 100% of your energy on the problem. When you’re on the ground you want to spend 100% of your energy resting.”

One of the biggest issues I faced was getting too antsy with re-trying a failed problem. I would still be fatigued from a previous attempt and make it even worse.

Try to be patient and…

Plan Ahead

If you go up and start climbing right away, you might be able to improv your way up to the finish. But if you’re inexperienced like myself, planning your holds and movements ahead of time plays a big part in being successful.

There’s no worse feeling than latching on to a hold and not knowing what your next move is. The less time you spend hanging and figuring things out, the better and easier your run will be.

Watch Your Head

Potential energy is a dangerous force.

Always be watching where you’re walking to ensure you won’t get clobbered by a falling climber. Keep a fair distance away from any walls you’re not climbing on and you should be fine.

Having Fun

I was anticipating enjoying my climbing experience, but I can’t say enough how excited I am to continue going and improving. When I play something like golf or am playing video games, I get extremely frustrated if I perform poorly.

When it comes to climbing, I’m not sure why, but I haven’t once felt like that after failing a problem. If anything it makes me want to try harder the next time to make sure I succeed.

The Community

Part of the enjoyment is the great atmosphere the climbing community has. Everyone is extremely respectful, friendly, and helpful. Additionally, experienced climbers are more than happy to share their advice and experience with new comers.

Honestly, it feels great to get compliments from another climber who you’ve never met before. Especially when you finish a particularly tough problem.

The Verdict

Right now, I am trying to go every Monday and am renting climbing shoes for a cost of about $15 total a session so about $60 a month. Previously, I’d been pretty wary about spending too much on things to a point where I felt I was spending too little.

I think this something I’ll find a lot of value in from multiple aspects.

Fun, exercise, and social interaction.

Because of this, I feel comfortable with having this as a monetary sink. I think as a hobby-ist who intends to retire early it will be really important to continue to weigh the costs of the hobbies I gain with the amount of value I receive from them.

It will all be a part of building a life to retire to that I enjoy.

Do you do any rock climbing or bouldering? Do you have any tips for a beginner that I may have missed here?

Here’s one of my (failed) runs where you can see some example holds and the V-labels!

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