Get Inspired: How to get into Climbing

Fast Answers

Why get into climbing?

It's a sociable sport and with hundreds of climbing walls around the UK, you don't need to live near mountains to get involved.

Who is it for?

There's something for everyone within the sport, be it indoors, outdoors, roped or non-roped (bouldering.)

Is there a cheap option?

Contact your local climbing wall as many offer equipment hire and introductory lessons so you can learn the basics safely.

What if I want a proper workout?

Climbing is a full-body workout, so it's great for improving muscle-tone as well as sharpening your brain.

Can I take it to another level?

Climbing has three competitive disciplines: speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing.

Is there a disability option?

Paraclimbing is growing in popularity and the Great Britain team has been very successful on the world stage.

Is there a family option?

Climbing is a perfect family activity because it's fun and it teaches team work and trust.

Climbing continues to grow in popularity. Many people enjoy it because it allows them to escape everyday worries and feel a great sense of achievement.

The activity is incredibly physical and uses lots of muscle groups, both in the upper and lower body. Your fingers, arms, back and shoulders as well as abdominal muscles and leg muscles in particular all get exercised. Regular climbing can improve stamina and endurance as well as muscle strength. In addition, all the reaching and stretching for holds improves flexibility and agility.

Pre-planning routes and mental preparation are key to mastering climbing, as Molly Thompson-Smith, world number one in her age group, describes here .

The British Mountaineering Council  will be able to help you find a club near you in England and Wales. If you live in Scotland, get in touch with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland.  In Ireland and Northern Ireland, try Mountaineering Ireland. 

Types of Climbing

British Bouldering Championships 2011

There are different types of activities within the sport of climbing including; bouldering, rock climbing, ice-climbing and competition climbing. Bouldering is a form of climbing usually practised on small rocks and boulders, rock climbing with ropes usually involves two people or a bigger group and for ice climbing, you should be prepared to climb on snow or ice. All of the activities can be done indoors or outside, but nothing beats mixing sport and our natural surroundings.

Indoor Climbing

Indoor climbing

With over 500 hundred indoor climbing walls across the UK and Ireland, it couldn't be easier to get started. Many offer instruction and essential equipment hire. It's also warm and dry indoors when it might be wet and windy outside! You can find your local indoor climbing wall  in Scotland via the Mountaineering Council of Scotland. In England and Wales, the BMC Climbing Wall directory  is a good place to start and if you live in Ireland or Northern Ireland, Mountaineering Ireland  will be able to help.

Mountain Climbing

Three people mountain climbing

If you fancy taking it outside, there are around 300 climbing, hill walking and mountaineering clubs in England and Wales affiliated to the BMC. Find a club near you in England and Wales on the British Mountaineering Council website  . For Scottish clubs see the Mountaineering Council of Scotland  and for clubs in Ireland see Mountaineering Ireland  .

Paraclimbing

Disability rock climbers go out on a limb to promote new paraclimbing opportunities in Scotland.

Paraclimbing is entirely inclusive and it's continually developing as a sport. Many paraclimbers can compensate for their disabilities through ingenuity and gutsy determination but there are also adaptive devices available such as special harnesses and pulley systems. The number of domestic and international competitions for athletes with disabilities is also on the rise. Contact your local club or the BMC for more information.

Climbing for kids

Edinburgh International Climbing Arena Ratho

Many climbing walls have children's and young people's clubs while some schools take pupils climbing as part of their P.E. curriculum or after-school activities. The Youth Climbing Series  offers fun climbing competitions for young people. There's also a handy Parent's Guide to Climbing  produced by the BMC.

Competition climbing

Competition climbing

If you want to climb competitively, then competition climbing is for you. Contests are held on artificial structures and climbing walls. In the UK and Ireland, most competitions involve indoor forms of bouldering or rock climbing. However, ice climbing competitions are becoming popular abroad. A good way to start competition climbing is by contacting your nearest climbing wall and getting involved in local competitions.

Coaching and Volunteering

Volunteering and coaching

For volunteering opportunities near you contact your local climbing wall. If you are an accomplished climber, you could also look into working as a guide for visually impaired climbers. You can also find out about volunteering opportunities with JoinInUK. 

The BMC is always on the look out for volunteers  and provides more details about getting into coaching.  If you want to start coaching in Scotland, contact the Mountaineering Council of Scotland.  You can also try Sports Coach UK. 

Aspire to be like: Kevin Jorgeson

Kevin Jorgeson

What Next?

1. Go to our Activity Finder to get into climbing near you.

2. Find a club near you in England and Wales via the British Mountaineering Council.  In Scotland, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland  will be able to help and if you live in Ireland or Northern Ireland then get in touch with Mountaineering Ireland  .

3. Share your story  and inspire others.

Are you inspired to try climbing? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the sport by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired,  visiting us on Facebook  or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.