As a beginner, you’re not going to have the skills and specialized techniques that’ll help you climb safely and efficiently. Climbers have to be able to manage their climbing gear, know how to tie climbing knots properly, and safely rappel.
Let’s not forget to mention that you also have to have good judgement when it comes to knowing where to climb, navigate risky challenges and make safe choices.
In this guide, we’re going to talk about common rock climbing mistakes that beginners tend to make. While it’s true that novice climbers tend to be more careful than their more experienced brethren, they can still make mistakes.
Here’s a list of 10 of the most common climbing mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Not Double Checking Knots
One of the biggest rock climbing mistakes people make is not checking the knots. Even if you’re belaying, you’ll want to double check to make sure the rope has been threaded correctly through the belay device and all locking carabiners are securely locked in place.
As a climber, check to see if the knot has been tied correctly, it’s tightened and threaded through the harness correctly. You also want to make sure the tail is long enough, too.
2. Not Wearing A Helmet
When you’re climbing, you never know what could happen. You could lose your footing and you could slam into the wall. Rocks could fall on your head. You could even flip upside down and hit your head! That’s what it’s important to wear a helmet and keep your noggin protected.
3. Climbing With Bent Arms
Although climbing with bent arms will give you a minor boost in power, but as a beginner climbing with bent, strained arms, you’re putting yourself at risk of your forearms getting swollen due to exhaustion.
We recommend that you focus on keeping your arms straight as you climb. You’ll want to keep your weight hanging down, thus allowing you to use your body’s weight as pressure on the handholds.
4. Only Looking Upward As You Climb
Many beginners often make the mistake of only looking up at where the next handhold is and they fail to consider where they’ll put their feet. This is a big mistake because by not looking at your feet for placement, you could be missing out on a resting position or you could force yourself to overexert yourself because your feet are improperly placed.
You can avoid this imagining there’s a 6-foot bubble around your body as you climb. You’ll want to pay attention to where the handholds are within that bubble, but you also will want to pay attention to the holds surrounding you.
5. Climbing Over Your Skill Level
It’s easy to feel like you can accomplish anything when you master a challenging climb. You may feel like you’re ready to join your more experienced friends on difficult challenges but we say you need to realistically look at your climbing ability and skills.
Don’t be afraid to say “no” to someone if they want you to go on a different climbing route. Listen to your gut. If you feel uneasy about the climb, then it’s probably a good idea to stay away until your climbing abilities improve.
6. Feeling Like You Can’t Turn Back
One of the easiest climbing mistakes you can avoid is knowing when to turn back. You’d be surprised by how many beginners feel like they have to push through a climb, even though they have some reservations.
There are some situations where turning back and rappelling is the wisest choice. When you’re climbing, as yourself if you feel safe climbing a particular route. If you don’t feel safe, go ahead and retreat. There’s absolutely no shame in putting safety first!
7. Poor Communication
When you’re climbing with your friends, it’s important that everyone uses proper climbing communication signals and language when climbing. You and your climbing partner should be on the same page so that you can safely communicate to one another.
In situations where there’s a lot of noise, make sure you both understand non-verbal commands such as tugging on the rope in a certain pattern.
8. Not Looking At Bolts Before Climbing
Novice climbers often blindly trust the bolts when they climb without realizing that sometimes bolts will fail – especially if you’re climbing a seaside crag. The salt water can rust or corrode the bolts, making them unsafe to use. Look at the bolts while your climbing. If they look suspicious, don’t be afraid to find a safer route with newer, safer hardware.
9. Having Poor Hip Technique
One of the best climbing tips we have for beginners is to not climb as though you’re climbing a ladder. What we mean by this is by climbing with your rear end sticking out, your hips are square with the rock, and your feet are facing forward. Instead, you should keep your hips close to the wall.
More importantly, keep the hip of the arm your reaching with against the wall. This will give you a little more stability and it’ll also extend your reach a little bit too.
10. Beta Spraying
Beta spraying is a term used when someone is telling a climber where to move next and how they should move. While you may think that you’re offering useful advice, it could be distracting to the climber and they could make a mistake.
Or, you could just annoy them because they’d prefer to plan their moves on their own. We recommend only offering advice to someone if they ask for it.
Climbing is a great activity that is challenging both your mind and your body. With that said, it is not a sport that you’ll want to go into blindly because a simple mistake like a loose knot could be disaster if the climber falls.
We hope this list of common rock climbing mistakes was useful to you and if you have any questions, concerns, or even a few beginner climbing tips, please leave a comment below!