Indoor Rock Climbing – Meet the World of Plastic

Indoor Rock Climbing — Climbing indoors is just what it sounds like—you simply are climbing indoors instead of climbing outdoors. Simple-sounding, but the term indoor climbing covers from closet and basement “woodies” to enormous and elaborate climbing walls in gyms.

You can build your own woodie with some plywood and screws, turning a room in your house or a wall in the attic or basement into your own training area. All indoor climbing is basically the same because you are climbing on manufactured holds bolted to plywood.

The plywood in gyms and home gyms alike are attached to a metal or wood frame and holds are bolted or screwed on. The holds can be turned or rotated to any which way desired, to turn a bucket hold into a sloper, or a crimper into an under cling.

The holds can be positioned to make a “route” which can be marked with tape to show which holds can be touched and which ones are off-limits. Textured paint is available to give the wall a sandstone appearance and allow smearing with your climbing shoes.

Routes are usually an arms-width wide and can run to the top of the wall or even traverse the entire length of the wall. A really neat feature of indoor climbing is that a route can be changed to make the climb as easy or as hard as you want it to be; the holds can even be put up to duplicate a tough route you may be working on outside. This allows you to practice inside when the weather turns sour, or if winter affects your neck of the woods.

Climbing gyms are fabulous places to start learning how to climb. Some gyms have classes you can take with qualified and sometimes even certified instructors. Gyms let you practice using climbing gear and learn proper technique in a safe environment.

Most climbing gyms have routes that are top roped, but some have walls you can practice leading on. Leading a route in a gym can be much less nerve-wracking than your first lead outside; there is a big difference between leading a route and top roping the same route.

You may notice that some climbing gyms have campus routes. Campus boards are thin slats of wood put up the wall in a ladder-like fashion. The climber grips the campus board with his finger tips and essentially pulls up to the next rung. No feet are used, so as a word of caution to the beginning climber—make sure you have adequate finger strength before you start on the campus boards. Finger injuries are all too common and irreversible nerve and tendon damage may occur. Taping finger joints can help prevent this, but avoiding campus boards for the first little while would be best.

Indoor climbing is its own sport in the vast world of climbing with many climbing competitions and even cash prizes. There are many climbers who don’t care to climb outside or live where boulders and cliffs don’t exist. Indoor climbing is a great way to practice tough moves or just hang out when the weather isn’t cooperating. Also, many hours of fun and learning are to be had climbing indoors. Enough said…to the plastic!!

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