Rock climbing: Building muscles and trust


By Sharni Hamann

People rock climbing at Rockface

Sharni Hamann, Reporter

Staying fit is always a challenge and going to the gym is a popular choice. However, it can become tedious and it’s easy to lose motivation. Challenging yourself by trying rock climbing is an idea for thrill seekers who are looking for new ways to stay fit.

There are different types of indoor rock climbing. Beginners gravitate towards the most popular form, top roping. Top roping is when the climber, in a harness, is attached to a rope by two carabiners (ropes connected to a pulley at the top of the wall) that connects to the ground where a belayer (their partner) can hold the rope. The purpose of this is so that as the climber gradually moves up the wall the belayer takes the slack rope, the loose rope, making sure that there is enough tension in the rope so that if  the climber falls the rope above them is short enough to catch them.

Andy Philips who has been climbing at Rockface for 15 years and working there for three Rockface for three explained that the way you get down from the wall “is similar to abseiling but the belayer is in control, they control the descent.”

More experienced climbers try lead climbing in which the climber is in a harness with a rope and belayer, however they clip their rope to bolts on the wall as they go up. The most advanced indoor rock climbers try bouldering which has no rope or harness only padded mats at the base of the wall.

Rock climbing is an adventurous sport you might remember from school camp but there is more to it than team building skills, it is a full-body workout that tests you physically and mentally.

The physical test is greater than you would think. It is a form of strength building and cardio combined. You are working to reach and pull yourself up, also carrying the weight of the harness and rope. It’s also known to increase balance and flexibility. The mental test of rock climbing is good for sufferers of anxiety or stress. Many people find it exhilarating since they are overcoming a challenge, especially when it is a fear of heights. It can be also used as a trust-building exercise with your belayer, the person on the ground who pulls and holds the rope.

However, it can be challenging to overcome the fear of rock climbing initially and Phillips offers this advice: “Just go up, even a metre, just get used to sitting in a harness a couple of metres off the ground, if you can manage that, and then gradually increase it. Come with someone who you trust to hold the rope, that’s not going to drop you.”

It’s recommended you wear your normal workout clothes, something that is comfortable, and you have full mobility in.

Rock climbing caters to all ages and all levels of experience with beginners starting on easier courses.

The average price of rock climbing in Perth is $30 which includes entrance, renting of equipment and shoes. However, some places offer concessions for students and are cheaper at non-peak hours.

If conquering great heights sparks your interest the QV1 Descent is back on in Perth.  Held from 11 – 13 April, it’s an opportunity to abseil or zipline down one of Perth’s most iconic buildings. There are several groups participating to raise funds and awareness for groups like Lifeline and Fiona Stanley Hospital.

If you are nervous about the idea of rock climbing, Phillips says to face your fears, “Just try it, trust yourself. Just do it a little bit at a time.”