If a pair of shoes and a chalk bag are enough to start bouldering, cliff climbing requires a little more equipment. Even if you start, like everyone else, with a top rope. That is to say, as a second. But at least you will be the first on the equipment.
So here are the few things you’ll need to buy and take with you for your first climb. “But be careful,” says Jérémy Bonder. “I also encourage people to bring the topo of the sector. It’s a book that lists all the routes and allows you to find your way. And of course, get in touch with professionals to start.
No, you won’t be able to afford a route in sneakers or barefoot. Slippers are essential and there are several families: velcro, lace-up, scratch and simple ballerinas.
So, now which ones to choose? First of all, note that experienced climbers will opt for very asymmetrical models, designed to give them better support on their big toes. If you are just starting out, we advise you to choose, first of all, shoes with a scratch that are rigid enough (while keeping a little bit of feeling for the foot placement) in which you don’t feel pain. It sounds obvious, but it’s crucial.
“Your feet are always a bit tight in a pair of slippers. But that’s normal, you have to accept it and they will relax,” explains Jeremy Bonder. “So you shouldn’t take them one size up in the shop, because they’ll be too big when you climb!”
2. A harness
It is also called a harness, and it will allow you to be roped up and is therefore essential. This is the harness, and we advise you to buy your own, as the models provided at the time of initiation are often of (very) limited comfort. And not necessarily adapted to your morphology.
If you climb on a cliff, think of taking a very comfortable model, the time of suspension of the body being longer than in room.
“The better you get, the lighter the harness,” adds Jérémy. “But to start out, they need to be comfortable and easily adjustable in the thighs and hips.”
3. A chalk bag
Magnesia is the white powder used by climbers, gymnasts and Lebron James to dry out their hands before exercise and get more grip. But while King Lebron could frankly do without it, you absolutely need it for climbing, and you’ll need to carry it in a mini-bag designed for that purpose. “It’s not very expensive, and it really makes a difference,” says Jeremy.
Be careful though, there is liquid magnesia containing alcohol, which you are advised to use during this pandemic period. You can never be too careful, even when climbing cliffs with your bare hands.
4. A rope
Single, double, twin, static or semi-static: there are many types of climbing ropes, and we’re not even talking about diameters. But if you start climbing at the top, you’ll need them very quickly.
So we’re going to make your life easier by advising you to opt for the one with the most reassuring name: the single rope. Rather used on a single length in cliff, it is especially easy to handle and perfectly indicated for the elementary courses. So go for a good length (between 70 and 80 mothers) and a large diameter (9.8 mm) for more peace of mind.
“You shouldn’t start with a rope that is too thin,” explains Jeremy. “Otherwise, you have to be very careful with the belay. I climb with 9.1 or 8.9 mm, but it’s really for experts.
Note also that a lanyard (a piece of dynamic rope) will also prove to be indispensable fairly quickly, especially to connect your harness to the belay. This is what we call, in the jargon, “vacher”. “The person who is going to go up to put the rope in the belay does not have a rope in place,” adds Jérémy. “To be safe during the manipulation, you need a lanyard.
No, a carabiner is not a little mosquito. It is, as you know, a small metal ring that can save your life when climbing.
“There are simple carabiners and screw-in carabiners, which make the attachment system even more secure,” explains Jérémy. “There are also automatic carabiners, but I don’t recommend them. Simply because the day you are given screw-in carabiners, you forget to screw them in. Which is a shame.
6. A set of quickdraws
Quickdraws are small carabiners connected by a strap that allow you to attach the rope to various anchor points and thus make the climb safer.
“I advise having between 12 and 15 of them and to play with different lengths to be able to go everywhere. And you can take entry-level models for beginners,” explains Jérémy.