Get Inspired: How to get into climbing

Rock climbing: What to expect when you try the sport

How do I start?

British Mountaineering Councilexternal-link (BMC) will be able to help you find a club near you in England and Wales. If you live in Scotland, get in touch with Mountaineering Scotlandexternal-link and in Northern Ireland, try Mountaineering Ireland.external-link

What is climbing?

  • Rock climbing with ropes can be done indoors and outdoors. In indoor climbing you make your way up a wall by following a series of coloured grips, known as 'holds.' The colour of the holds usually indicate the route you can take. Sounds dangerous, but it's not - to stop you from falling and injuring yourself you are tied to a rope.
  • There are many different types of outdoor climbing where you can enjoy nature, such as bouldering, scrambling, sport climbing and trad climbing. The BMC websiteexternal-link has more information on what these are and how to get involved.
  • Bouldering is rock climbing without the ropes. The walls are lower off the ground and there are crash mats underneath in case you fall.

Is it for me?

It's a sociable sport and welcomes climbers of all levels. With hundreds of climbing walls around the UK - you don't need to live near mountains to get involved.

What to expect when I start?

  • To get started you'll need ropes, harnesses, a helmet and comfortable shoes. Most climbing centres have these available for hire or purchase.
  • Paraclimbing is an inclusive sport which caters for all abilities. The BMC host the National Paraclimbing Seriesexternal-link which is a competition open to any level of climber.
  • It's a perfect family activity because it's fun and it teaches teamwork and trust. The Youth Climbing Seriesexternal-link offers climbing competitions for young people.
  • Regular climbing can improve stamina and all the reaching and stretching for holds improves flexibility and agility.
  • The activity uses lots of muscle groups, both in the upper and lower body. Your arms, back and shoulders as well as abdominal and leg muscles all get exercised.

To get you in the mood…

Coxsey hoping to inspire next generation

Are you inspired to try climbing? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the activity by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired,external-link visiting us on Facebookexternal-link or email us on

All clubs need a chair, secretary and treasurer to help things run smoothly as well as officials, coaches and judges. Whatever role you're interested in, Join Inexternal-link has opportunities to volunteer in your area.