‘I want to explain why the reasons you have not taken up climbing can be what motivates you to climb for many more years – once you’ve started.’

There’s an intense focus we experience when we climb, one that’s hard to compare with anything else. Being in that ‘zone’, feeling the texture of the rock under my finger-tips and listening to my feet as they transfer body weight between them. 10 minutes later I’m sat, feet over the cliff, looking out to sea and buzzing from my achievement, knowing that my friend on the other end of the rope is about to have just as great an experience.

After The Send

Photo by After The Send

My name is Tim, and I’m a rock climber and manager at Boulder Shack Climbing Gym. I have been asked to write a series of blogs that introduce novices to the basics of rock climbing, a simple how-to guide if you like. However in this first post it seems right to first explain ‘why’ we climb before we talk about the ‘how’.

More importantly I want to explain why the reasons you have not taken up climbing can be what motivates you to climb for many more years – once you’ve started.

You may not consider climbing to be your thing, or you may think it’s a bit too extreme. Well, here are the most common reasons that non-climbers have for talking themselves out of trying this amazing sport (and the exact same reasons why they should be picking up a harness!)

Tim Boulder Shack Climbing Gym

Pictured: Tim Miller, Climber & Manager at Boulder Shack Climbing Gym


“I don’t have anyone to climb with.”

You may have lots of friends, but maybe none that would want to give climbing a go with you! And this is the main barrier for a lot of people. This is easily solved at any indoor climbing wall in the country that runs an introduction/’learn to climb’ course, as almost all do.

These courses are filled on a 1:6 or 1:9 instructor – climber ratio, with people just like you who want to take up climbing and, most importantly,  meet other like-minded people to do it with. Climbers are a sociable bunch and I often see experienced climbers visiting indoor walls on their own and then climbing with regular members just 5 minutes later!

Boulder Shack Climbing Gym


“I don’t have the right body shape.”

You are never too unfit, too short or too wide to start climbing. Your hands are not too small and your feet are not too big. Just take a look in any climbing gym and you’ll see it’s packed with climbers (people) of every shape and size having a great time!

Climbing is SO much more than brute force, it’s about balance, movement and finesse. Sometimes it’s the most unsuspecting shapes that climb with relative ease. In fact, thinking about it, most of the world’s greatest climbers are shorter than you would imagine.

Boulder Shack Climbing Gym


“I’m too old to start that crazy stuff!”

Are you, really? I coerced my Dad, age 66, into a harness for the first time at a wall in London, and I know him well enough to see he was definitely nervous. More to amuse me I think, he agreed to have “just one” short climb. I kept the rope nice and tight for him as he made his way up, partly expecting him to decide that half way up was far enough (which would have been just fine).

But he flew to the top and as I lowered him down as he was smiling from ear to ear. He loved it and instantly wanted to go again. After 4 goes up the same route it was clear that he had forgotten his excuse of age. There was no over-exertion, no stresses or strains on his body, just great fun!



“I’m scared of heights.”

I could play on the pun of ‘harnessing your fears’, explaining how you will get over it. However, the reality is: a healthy fear of heights is almost impossible not to have – it’s self-preservation! I think if my heart-rate didn’t increase and my palms didn’t become clammy at height, then I would quite frankly find it all quite boring.

You don’t need to climb high to enjoy climbing. Many cities across the country are seeing the opening of bouldering centres such as Boulder Shack; low level climbing above padded mats, without the need for ropes.

This is a great way to enjoy the movement and feeling of climbing whist keeping well inside the height of your comfort zone. However, you may just find that without intending you’ll get a little higher up each time.

Boulder Shack


“There isn’t anywhere nearby for me to take up climbing.”

Entertain me… do a google search now for ‘climbing wall in <your nearest town/city>’.

There are around 350 climbing walls in the UK, so there is a very high chance that there is a wall near your home or work. You may have lived where you are for 20 years but if you’ve never actively looked then you may not have seen it.

The big cities tend to host large climbing centres and as you move into the smaller cities and towns you might start to find local walls inside leisure centres or collage halls. Almost all of these are open to public climbers and all of those would welcome the chance to show you the ropes!

Find your local wall, pop down to have a look and I am sure you will want to take up climbing!

In my next post I will start from the beginning of the ‘how’ we climb.

Boulder Shack