New To Climbing?

If you are new to climbing, there is no doubt you will have many questions about this activity.

At Prairie Walls we pay special attention to our new climbers as they take their first steps into the vertical world of rock climbing. Training new climbers is one of the primary services we offer. Our goal is to provide a safe and positive experience to clients of all ages and ability levels. Remember even the most competent and experienced climbers at one time we were all beginners!

Why would anyone want to climb a wall?

Beside the fact that it’s just almost too much fun, there are many other reasons why so many people from very diverse backgrounds dedicate so much effort to climbing. A few of the most common reasons are listed below. As a workout, climbing is great for building strength and flexibility. Since the complexity of climbing movement is almost infinite and much of the challenge involves problem solving, you tend not to get bored with your workout. You will be flexing your mind as well as your muscles and learning teamwork. Roped climbing requires the coordinated effort of two people.

Learning trust. Trust of your partner, your ability, the safety systems and equipment used in climbing. Goal setting and positive reinforcement when goals are achieved. There are always climbs that will be above your ability, so there is always another challenge. When you complete a climb you have been working you know it was your personal effort that made it possible. Climbing promotes positive self esteem. Camaraderie, very close bonds are formed between climbing partners and since the climbing community is so diverse you meet some very interesting people. Stick with climbing, hone your skills and it can take you to some of the most incredibly beautiful and wild places on this earth.

Is climbing safe?

A better question might be “is climbing dangerous.” The answer to that question would of course be yes. Falling from high places is bad for your health. This is why proper training and equipment are of utmost importance. At Prairie Walls you are climbing in a controlled and supervised environment. We strictly enforce our safety rules to assure everyone will have safe and enjoyable time. We can not eliminate all the risks we face in life. By not climbing you would eliminate the risk of being injured in a climbing accident, but you would also eliminate the many positive aspects of the experience. If you are still unsure, then we invite you to stop out to Prairie Walls. We will give you a tour and explain how the safety systems work. Just be careful on the drive out to Prairie Walls.

I have a fear of heights.

Good! We are not birds, falling and hitting the earth can be very bad for your prolonged well-being. Having a healthy appreciation for the fact that gravity works really well keeps us safe. When you start climbing the first thing you learn is the safety systems used in climbing. Once you understand how the systems work most people file away their fear of heights in the appropriate place and concentrate on the challenge, exhilaration and movement of climbing.

I am too old, climbing is something just for young people.

Many of our climbers are more than a few miles on them. Climbing well is not just a function of being young and strong. You are never too old to learn and in climbing technique and problem solving ability are more important attributes than strength. Besides climbing is a very personal experience and the pure joy and exhilaration of making it to the top of a climb that was beyond what you imagined you could do is the same for a beginner or expert climber.

I am not strong enough to “pull” myself up the wall.

Not a problem. Climbers with good technique don’t “pull” themselves up the wall either. The first thing that you will learn about vertical movement is that it is all about using your feet and legs. There are many very good climbers who can not do a single pull up.

Strange new words:

Yes climbers do have a vocabulary all of there own. While it may not be important for you at this time to know why the mere mention of a “12C off-width” will bring a look of terror to the face of most climbers or understand the joy of a climber describing “sticking a huge dyno to a nasty sloper,” there are a few terms you should know.

  • Belaying: This is what holding the rope for a climber is called. The person holding the rope is a belayer. When you are belaying you use a device that creates friction. This allows you to safely catch and hold a falling climber. A safe belay is the foundation of safe rock climbing.
  • Top Rope Climbing: This is the type of climbing you will be learning when you start out. In top rope climbing the rope is tied to the climbers harness and runs up to the top of the wall through an anchor point and then down to the belayer. As the climber moves up the wall the belayer pulls the rope up with them. When you fall the rope is right there to catch you. You just sit back in your harness.
  • Bouldering: In bouldering you do not use a rope, but you never climb very high. Bouldering is a more gymnastic form of rock climbing, emphasizing short, steep and difficult climbs or long low traverses. Bouldering is also a great workout. At Prairie Walls we have a bouldering cave and boulders that “top out”, just like outdoors. Like roped climbing there are safety skills you need to learn to keep yourself safe when bouldering and the Prairie Walls staff will show you how to boulder safe.
  • Lead Climbing: Lead climbing and lead belaying are skills that require a more advanced level of experience. In lead climbing the climber, belayer and the rope all start on the ground. As the climber moves up the wall they take the rope with them. The belayer feeds the rope out to the climber and the climber clips the rope into safety anchors on the wall. This protects the lead climber in the event they would fall.