It's natural. You're tied into the rope and staring up the wall to the top. The adrenaline starts to pump as you wrap your fingers around the first hold and before you know it you're scaling up the wall. Like many newbies, you'll find yourself loving the sport, but committed a plethora of mistakes as you go. Check out the top six mistakes below so you don't stand out as a noob the next time you're climbing.
1. Climbing too hard too soon
You'll see it at every wall you go to. A newbie climber tied in to a 6B+ and falling just a couple of moves in. I'm not saying you shouldn't push yourself, but it's fair to say you should learn to walk before you run. Many new climbers get shut down on harder routes that 'look simple' and soon become disheartened. The best thing to do at the start of your climbing adventure is to build your confidence on attainable climbs and master the basics before attempting bigger and bolder moves. The harder stuff will come naturally once you've got the fundamentals nailed.
2. Stepping midfoot
This is a natural instinct. Logic tells us that if we have the middle of our soles planted on a hold, we're more likely to be stable. It will take a while to get past this. In actuality you're much better off stepping on your toes. Not only will it mean your weight is driving into the rubber grip of your climbing shoe more concisely, but you'll have an extra inch or two of reach which will become paramount when you're stretching to reach that hand hold just out of reach. You also get a better push through your feet if you engage the whole foot, making dyno movements that little bit easier.
3. climbing with their arms
Give it a few minutes of scaling the wall and it will soon become obvious if you're climbing with your arms. Yes, all climbing requires adequate grip strength, and yes some moves will require you to pull up on your arms and fingers. That said the majority of movement on the wall should derive from your legs. As a rule of thumb (excuse the pun) you should use your legs to move up the wall and using your hands to keep yourself from peeling away from the wall. Your quads and hamstrings are the strongest muscles in your body, much much stronger than those in your forearms so put them into good use and save yourself from getting pumped early on in the climb.
4. 'flat' climbing
This comes from a mixture of mistakes 2 and 3. New climbers tend to forget to move their hips to realign their centre of gravity. Instead they climb flat to the wall in a frog-like shape. Moving and twisting your hips can open up a few extra options when on the wall, such as step-throughs or different holds. Not only that but you'll feel much smoother on the climb and your movement will become much more fluid. And don't forget the options of 'bridging' and 'flagging' too!
5. Too much chalk
This is my personal favourite and I was a prime example of it (Maybe I still am?). It's a general faux pas to use too much chalk, and it becomes less of a help and more of a hinderance. It might look like all the pro's are covered in chalk but really they only use the amount they need it and when they need it. Use chalk sparingly to soak up any moisture on sweaty palms, or to help with silky sloper holds, but remember - too much chalk will reduce your grip!
6. Erratic movement
Famous climbers throughout history have compared climbing to dancing: Smooth, steady and nice to watch. That's worth bearing in mind when you're on the wall. Not only will smooth climbing make your movements easier on your arms and legs, but it will also help your belay keep with the pace of your climbing. Moving too fast means that there may be too much slack in the rope if you take a fall and moving erratically makes it hard for the belay to anticipate your next move and if they may need to brace for your fall. Take it easy on the wall, and it will make your climbing career much nicer. So are you guilty of any of these mistakes? Believe me I have been! Let us know in the comments section. And if you know of any other mistakes that newbie climbers make then get in touch and we can share with the community in the near future!