Advanced class members, from left, Boris Minot, Kurtis Wall, Aaron Phillips and Stephanie Phillips, listen to instructor Ben Jensen during the members-only training session at Summit rock climbing gym in Dallas on March 26, 2015. 

Advanced class members, from left, Boris Minot, Kurtis Wall, Aaron Phillips and Stephanie Phillips, listen to instructor Ben Jensen during the members-only training session at Summit rock climbing gym in Dallas on March 26, 2015. 

Robert W. Hart/Special Contributor

Need a break from the sweaty gym or your usual routine? If you're looking for a fun way to stay active or step outside of your comfort zone, rock climbing can build muscle and endurance. Bragging rights are just a bonus.

Anthony Rodriguez, an avid rock climber in Dallas, picked up the sport two years ago. He and his girlfriend Tara McCrory were "hooked on that first day," he says.

Boris Minot gets climbing tips from instructor Ben Jensen during a members-only training session at Summit rock climbing gym in Dallas.

Boris Minot gets climbing tips from instructor Ben Jensen during a members-only training session at Summit rock climbing gym in Dallas.

Robert W. Hart/Special Contributor

He has a gymnastics background and said the problem-solving aspect of rock climbing appeals to him. "The sense of accomplishment when I get to the top is amazing," he says. But active people of all kinds are welcome members of the local rock climbing community.

"There's not a specific type of person that rock climbs in Dallas," Rodriguez says. "Everyone gets along because they have that one thing in common."

Before you grab a harness and get to climbing, review our beginner's guide to navigating rock climbing in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Types of climbs

Indoor: A place that has artificial hand and footholds perfect for beginners

Outdoor: This is where it gets more complicated.

  • Bouldering: Climbing close to the ground without a rope.
  • Sport climbing: Climbing with a rope and pre-placed anchors so the climber can clip in carabiners as they go.
  • Traditional climbing: Involves two climbers. The first climber places protection such as nuts or camming devices into cracks in the rocks and loops rope as they go; the second climber follows and removes the protections.
Instructor Ben Jensen watches as Stephanie Phillips rolls up her rope. There's a lot more to rock climbing than just ropes.

Instructor Ben Jensen watches as Stephanie Phillips rolls up her rope. There's a lot more to rock climbing than just ropes.

Robert W. Hart/Special Contributor

Gear

Before your first climb, make sure you have the right gear. If you're climbing indoors, you won't need a helmet or belay device but you will need a harness and climbing shoes. Most gyms should offer harnesses and shoes for rent; they also provide ropes at no additional cost. For outdoor climbs, it is crucial to wear a helmet, and you'll need to purchase that beforehand. Here's a quick checklist of the essentials:

  • Rock climbing shoes: They protect your feet and help you get a good grip on footholds. Note: The harder the climb, the more snug your shoes should be.
  • Helmet: Necessary for all outdoor climbs.
  • Harness: Unless you're bouldering, you need a harness. Features a waist belt for ropes and leg loops.
  • Climbing ropes: Your lifeline during a climb.
  • Carabiners: Strong metal rings that connect your rope to bolts, nuts or camming devices for added protection to catch you if you fall.
  • Belay device: A second climber uses this to control your rope as you climb; they can brake the rope if you fall or loosen it as you climb.
  • Chalk: Helps improve your grip.

Buzz words

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  • Crux: The hard part/sequence of a climb (i.e. a problem)
  • Project: A climb at the top of your skill that you're working on, usually for a couple days.
  • Send: When you're finishing a climb. Use it in a sentence? "I just sent my project."
  • Beta: Tips on how to finish a climb. You usually "give beta" when someone asks for it because they're stuck on a crux. It refers to watching old betamax tapes of climbers finishing problems to see how they finished.
  • Traversing: Climbing horizontally instead of vertically.
  • Top roping: When your rope is anchored from above while a partner belays for you on the ground or base. Great for beginners since you don't have to worry about clipping bolts or placing protection; you can focus solely on hand and foot placement.

Tips

Don't hold yourself up by your arms when climbing. Use the power from your legs instead. This will help you not tire out as easily.

Part of the fun of rock climbing is figuring out how to finish a challenging climb.

Part of the fun of rock climbing is figuring out how to finish a challenging climb.

Robert W. Hart/Special Contributor

Keep your heels lower than your toes.

Use your hands for balance.

Don't be afraid to ask for help! The climbing community is welcoming and willing to help beginners.

Don't get frustrated. No one could crush it on Day One.

D-FW rock climbing locations

  • Summit Gym (indoor facility), Dallas, Grapevine, Carrollton and Denton
  • Eisenhower State Park (outdoor facility), 50 Park Road 20, Denison      
  • The North Texas Outdoor Pursuit (indoor and outdoor facility), 1003 4th Ave., Carrollton    
  • Dyno-Rock Climbing Center, 608 East Front St., Arlington
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