Climbing with beginners at the first time is one of the most interesting
experiences we normally have, because we can detect immediately who are
potential climbers, looking at their "monkey" instinct ! In fact, some children
almost act like an experienced climber with some level of concentration, calm,
and good doses of equilibrium.
Children are fantastic to see. They remember me those babies swimming
perfectly with only one year old. Shell the climbing instinct be with us when we
born ? Will we loose it with the age ? I'm sure we will. For those older, like
me, (57 years) I recommend to begin immediately and avoid to loose more ability
! ... I'm impoving and doing 6a! ...
Some parents are normally afraid of having their children climbing because
they think is dangerous. The first thing we do, is to take away this wrong
idea by inviting them to climb with us or, if they don't, they must see the
climbing activity . With this method parents can see that, in fact, top rope
is extremely secure and teachers are really concerned with security principles.
Teachers must demonstrate know how and confidence because they know their
limitations. In Portugal if you are alone on this sport and want to begin you
must look for a climbing course contacting some climbing shops or
2 - Materials
Basic equipment to begin climbing costs about
250 € about the same in USD and consists in
Harness (Baudrier) - This is like a complete belt that attaches your body to
the rope and suspends you comfortably in case of fall. In top rope there is no
fall! You must choose one harness smothly tighten . In Portugal one
Harness ( Baudrier) costs about 90 €
Climbing Shoes. Are a very important part of equipment, because with normal
tennis shoes or boots, a climb can be frustrating. Some low level adherence
routes are almost impossible to climb with normal shoes. For good sport practice
this shoes must bee very tighten - 2 numbers low or more. For a beginner,
you must choose one slightly tighten but, for children choose the feet number or
some slightly larger number. Feet deformations were detected in some climber
adults . Please be careful with this purchase. Climbing shoes in Portugal
costs about 70 €
A rope is about 150 €.
Chalk bag - This is a small bag you carry on your back to keep your hands
dried to mantain good adherence to the rock. It costs around 15 €
Climbing is one of those sports which requires lots of concentration, calm,
body control, balance and, quick movements for each obstacle. So, it is good
for body and psychic health . We normally climb with some young scouts in
Lisbon areas: Cascais, Sintra or Montejunto .
In the right photo you can see José Luis teaching security knots to
scouts. Generally, first teachings are about security and are to keep for all
In our scouting team we have done some special analysis with young people,
looking to their reaction in the wall and their comments but, mainly in the
aspect of how their ego feels, when climbing a route is well succeeded. This
information is passed to parents whose reaction we also register.
We believe this activity will prepare them to be more auto-confident in
their future life.
If you have experiences like these, please e-mail us.
Grading systems for climbing routes for normal non climber person
British American Alpine
Characteristics Numerical Yosemite UIAA
Easy( Like a vertical stone stair) Class1,2 I
Some difficult(Same but Bad stair) 1a,b,c Class3 II,III-,III
Difficult (without some steps) 2,a,b Class5.1, 5.2 III+
Very difficult ( no steps identified) 2c, 3a Class5.3, 5.4 IV,IV+
Severe ( Some technic required) 3b, 4a Class5.5, 5.6 V-,V
Very severe ( Technic required) 4b, 4c Class5.7, 5.8 V+,VI-
Hardly severe 5a, 5b Class5.9, 5.10a,b VI
Extremely severe (Sport climbers) 5c, 6a,b,c Class 5.10to 5.11 VII. VIII
Hard extremely severe (Sport climbers) 7a,b,c Class5,12a to c IX
Incredibly hard to do it ! 8a,b,c (Specialized climbers)
Unbelievable to do it ! 9a ... ? May be 3 in the world ...
There are other systems as the numerical Australian and another American the
NCCS. In Portugal we use the UIAA for low levels, to level IV, and for higher
levels we use the British numerical from 5a to 8b .... Opinion between
climbers about routes is sometimes frequent but the discussions are about small
differences between 6a or 6b. The general big level diference is normally
agreed. The numerical grades take account of technical difficulty and are
usually based on hard movements to do. Levels are also related with loose rock,
dangerous fall and so.
4 - Security
These are some primary rules for beginners security :
Learn the knot to attach your harness to the rope.
2 - If you can get one helmet use it always
Never begin to climb without advising your belayer
Advise your belayer whenever the rope is loose.
5 - Listen to your teacher very attentive . Do not
respond him ! ...