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Climbing for Beginners

A word of warning - Don't do it! Seriously, climbing is dangerous and you shouldn't take it up unless you are prepared for the risk. There is a great deal to learn and there is no quick fix. If you don't want to risk getting injured, don't take up climbing - it's that simple.

If you are interested, then there are a few ways to find out more about climbing, listed below. We have relied heavily on the British Mountaineering Council's website at www.thebmc.co.uk The BMC are the main association for climbers, hillwalkers and mountaineers in the UK, and as they've done all the work and produced the information it seems pointless to duplicate it! Please join the BMC as this helps all hill users

Clubs - find your local climbing club and go along. These are generally for over 18s and will meet in the local pub, so aren't always suitable for young new members. However, clubs sometimes also have junior sections and meets or special events for under 18s so it is worth calling the Club Secretary. There's a list of clubs affiliated to the British Mountaineering Council at: http://www.thebmc.co.uk/Pages.aspx?page=204  - this isn't every club, but there are 300 of them. You could also look in the back of most monthly climbing magazines where many clubs are listed or have ads. Try the imaginatively named 'Climb' or 'Climber' magazines. 

The Traditional Method - In days of lore young people would go to the rocks and contact climbers, then become 'apprentices' - this method is generally out of currency nowadays, although it could be useful to befriend people at the local wall. Hopefully they'll invite you on their climbing trips and you can gain experience that way.

The Climbing Wall - in the last decade or so climbing walls have grown very fast, and many people spend most of their climbing career in the wall. Some have no desire to climb outside at all, seeing the wall as a leisure pursuit in itself. Walls originated as a training method only, and many still use them mainly in the winter as preparation. You can find a list of walls and search by area at:  http://www.thebmc.co.uk/Feature.aspx?id=2234 There's also a Beginner's Guide to Climbing Walls at:  http://www.thebmc.co.uk/Feature.aspx?id=2309

Courses - One good way to learn to climb is to take part in a course. This will cost money, but often a course can teach you in a short period much more than you'd learn from friends in years. Professional instructors are just that - their work is dedicated to teaching people to climb, so they're pretty good at it. One often overlooked benefit of a course is that the advice you get can save you a fortune in equipment - they'll teach you what not to buy, and save you a fortune. 


The main professional organisation for climbing instructors is the Association of Mountaineering Instructors, at: www.ami.org.uk and  almost all of these will run courses.

The main centre for courses in England and Wales is the excellent Plas y Brenin, the National Centre for Mountain Activities, at www.pyb.co.uk 

In Scotland, the equivalent is at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore at: www.glenmorelodge.org.uk 

Don't be put off by the very professional nature of these places or the names - the instruction is absolutely superb, with really friendly and approachable instructors. They're not for highly experienced climbers only; they run courses for everyone and the professionalism and quality is quite amazing. 

More technical info about climbing - The Basics