Most people learn climbing in a gym. I learned in 40-degree rain on granite slabs in western North Carolina. I didn’t climb in a gym until after I’d done a few alpine ice climbs. Let me tell you one thing: It’s less-intimidating to get acquainted with the safety routines, lingo, and gear when climbing indoors. Still, it’s perfectly fine to start outdoors if you fall in with the right climbers or enroll in an American Mountain Guides Association-accredited course.
Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, you’re going to need some basic gear. I’m keeping it simple (and affordable) in this guide, as it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the jargon for technical gear. You’re also not going to be climbing lead until you’re more experienced, so I’m omitting items like rope and quickdraws, which your climb leader will have. You can get by with any flexible clothes (no jeans!), though I suggest you veer toward technical synthetic layers for climbing outside.
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