Focus PT - August 2017

When You Hit a Wall, Climb It How to Get Started in the Challenging World of Rock Climbing

legs and waist that has attachments to connect to a rope. Metal carabiners will link the rope to your harness. Then, you’ve got your ever-vital belay, a metal doohickey used in belaying — go figure — or rappelling. Belaying is the process of one climber securing the rope for another as they ascend. Rapelling is simply a fancy word for sliding carefully down the rope back to earth. Spend some time on the sidelines, observing the veteran climbers. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask anyone who might be around. The climbing community is well-known for being welcoming to new participants. They’ve all been where you are before. After many grueling, yet intensely rewarding, hours spent on a plastic climbing wall, you’re almost guaranteed to be itching to get outside. It’s important that you’ve all but mastered your technique indoors before attempting to tackle anything difficult, however. There is no denying that climbing out in the real world can be dangerous. Learn to tie your knots like a band of steel, and get in the habit of inspecting them. If you stick with a group that knows what they’re doing and keep responsible and level-headed, you’ll be summiting peaks in no time.

Rock climbing may be daunting, but you don’t have to have supernaturally chiseled back and arm muscles to do it. And you should do it: Research shows that far beyond being a prime tool for building muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance, climbing can improve your memory, reduce stress, and help your brain become more effective at solving problems. It would be unwise, however, to just pick a mountain and start clambering up. The first thing you’ll need is guidance. Somebody has to show you the ropes — literally. Whether that means a friend well-versed in the ways of ascension or a professional guide is up to you. The easiest way to get help is just to head over to your local indoor climbing gym, walk up to the front desk, and tell them you’re a newbie. They’ll be happy to set you up with some rental equipment and an experienced instructor. Indoor wall climbs are completely safe and relatively easy. They’ll have routes available for every skill level, allowing you to escalate difficulty at your own pace.

Let your trainer or friend give you the lowdown on climbing lingo. First, you’ve got your harness, a belt that loops around your


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