So you just started out rock climbing in the gym and now you are hooked. After you took the first lessons you quickly became more confident. Now you are bored by top roping the beginner routes in your boulder gym. Maybe you already tried intermediate routes or even some lead climbing. Quick and easy: If you want to find more rock climbing near you can either spend more time in the gym (which is good training), go outside and look for rocks to boulder on (pretty close to rock climbing), talk to your local climbing scene or learn traditional climbing.
You feel it’s time to get outside. That feeling of progress needs to be with you again. And start looking for spots to climb outside. I know I did the same when I started, and one of the big questions was how to find good rock climbing near me. No one wants to drive 3 hours during a weekday just to get a little session before dinner.
But you most likely don’t live in the European Alps or a place like Yosemite, with a lot of very accessible and easy to find spots. That’s why you will need some sort of written guide and or tips from your local climbers.
And maybe you are out of luck because you live in a place like the Netherlands: Where it’s flat and you have to look really hard to find a place to rock climb. No matter where you live, I have some tips for you. You can call it a go-to guide to help you get started.
Spend more time in the gym
This one sounds counter-intuitive but hear me out.There are only two skills I found that you cannot really train in the gym.
Number one is the training of your eye and brain to find holds and routes. It’s a difference if you have a rock wall in front of your face littered with possible and impossible holds or clearly marked colored plastic handles. But this is somewhat of a vague argument with all the chalk marks on frequented climbing spots.
Number two is the psychological effect climbing on real rocks has: It can be wet, dirty, humid, holds can break, anchors can be loose. It’s the real deal, and no amount of gym can make up for it and the situations you encounter.
But for everything else, you can use the gym. Even for training falls the gym is perfect. Gyms are where champions are made. Look at the current elite in climbing and they almost all started out in the gym. It’s the perfect place to train technique, strength, and endurance in a safe environment. So, don’t worry too much about being outside all the time if you are beginning. If you simply have no options to get near a good climbing spot you better spend your time training at the climbing gym than to sit at home.
Can’t find rock climbing spots near you? Find a huge rock instead. You won’t be training safety and belaying there. And neither will you fight your fear of falling at great heights. Other than that its a great way to training climbing skills. Bouldering is like taking the hardest part of your climbing route and training just that. It’s the number on the activity the really good climbers focus on to get even better. And when a climb gets really hard and physically challenging – it becomes a boulder. There is one downside: Bouldering is without a safety buddy while boulders still can get relatively high (around 3-5 meters or 9-15 feet). You must definitely learn to fall correctly and buy a crash-pad and possibly have a buddy to move the crash-pad under you if the boulder traverses etc. Other than that it’s big fun and you will become better at climbing quickly too when you spend a lot of time bouldering. And most areas have some sort of rocks where you can boulder . If you live near a forest, chances are high you can find a single large rock there somewhere.
Talk to the locals to find good rock climbing near you
Most places have some kind of climbing scene. Chances are high that these locals know if there is an option to climb outside at all or not. Get in touch with them. I know you love the internet, but the climbing community has a lot of individualists and free spirits. Some of them don’t like to share information with anyone on the internet. Usually, you won’t be told the best secret spots unless you build some rapport first with them. So go out, talk, and have fun. Climbing is more fun with a group anyway and you will learn a lot when you climb with people that climb harder and better than you.
Talking to the locals is also a great way to bond and build ride sharing groups if you need to drive a bit longer. If the next good climbing spot is 2 hours away, great. The long drive becomes way more fun in a group of friends plus you can share gas money too.
Buy a written guide
Something definitely to consider if you leave near a place with some climbing opportunities. I am from a part in Germany where we have hundreds of routes – so it’s to have a written guide to keep an overview and find good options for different weather conditions. There are tons of written guides for all kinds of locations out there, but generally, if there is a written guide it means there is a reasonable amount of climbing spots for the area. Otherwise, nobody would have to spend the time writing the guide.
Learn traditional climbing or trad (BE CAUTIOUS THOUGH)
If you have no sports routes near you (with bolted anchors and fixed bolts to use with your quickdraws) but generally live in an area with rock walls and mountains, you can also learn traditional climbing. This is the way people used to climb – using gear that they completely removed after the climb. Trad climbing is more complex than sports climbing though when it comes to personal safety as you need to know how to use slings, cams, and nuts safely. This is not something you should teach yourself! So if you want to learn it, take a course and some lessons – your life may depend on it.
I used to live at a place where I couldn’t find any rock climbing near me when I was in Florida. So I simply did what I would also recommend to any of you guys: Go and take a climbing vacation. That way you will practice what you learned in the gym in real. But don’t forget to connect to a local guide and even better: Take an outdoor rock climbing course before you wet your feet.
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Let me know if you have tips and tricks. How do you find rock climbing places near you? Make sure to also check out my other beginner article about building top rope anchors