One of the best parts about being a regular at a climbing gym is the community. You start to climb with the same people and before long, you’ve made a bunch of new friends. But what about your existing crew? How do you share your passion for climbing in a way that hooks your friend instead of scaring her away? Here are a few tips.
1. Start slow.
You might be able to boulder or climb for a couple hours or more, but chances are, your friend won’t. Start with an hour and see how she feels. Encourage her to take breaks and pace herself, even if she says she feels fine.
2. Be there for her.
Of course you can show off your skills a little, and, by all means, work on your project when your friend is taking a break, but don’t plan on your regular workout for at least the first couple of joint climbing ventures. Stick together! Remember, the goal is to keep your friend coming back, and she likely won’t if you ditch her to fend for herself.
3. Set her up for success.
Lots of new climbers get started on a V0 or somewhere in the 5.4-5.6 range on flat wall or slab, so start there. Take the pressure off by reminding her that simply getting up the wall is an accomplishment; there’s no need to follow the set routes early on and she should feel free to use whatever holds she wants. Make a big deal of her sends. Put her on a kids’ route if you have to (just don’t tell her it’s a kids’ route). Confidence is key.
4. Be generous with your chalk.
And no, we're not just saying that because we're a chalk company. Someone new to climbing may not understand what a difference chalk can make and how to use it. Share your chalk and spread the love (plus, nobody else wants to climb after someone’s sweaty hands glommed all over the holds).
5. Go out with a group.
Encourage your friend to take a class or join a group heading outside for the day. Meeting other new climbers, making friends, and being in a fun setting will give her another reason to come back for more!
6. Send her some sick climbing videos.
Nothing gets your hands sweating like a good climbing clip, so send some along to your friend.
The Insiders and Climbing the Nose are excellent places to start. Show her what is (theoretically) possible if she keeps coming to the gym with you!
7. Go to a climbing comp together.Even if you aren’t seriously competing, a climbing comp is fun. You get to push yourself, climb with friends, and see some really strong climbers crush. It’s a great way to build up some psych.
You don’t have to get super technical and try to get your friend into an iron cross, but maybe explaining how to use a backstep or a drop knee could be helpful and make things a little easier. Check out our Climbing 101 guides for some helpful techniques. Climbing.com is another great resource.
8. Share basic techniques.
Your friend will enjoy herself much more if she’s not getting crushed by a descending climber, or yelled at for jumping on a problem that someone else was waiting to try. Explain the importance of looking around the wall to see where problems or routes lead so that she doesn’t get in the way of a climber already on the wall. Read more tips for being a courteous member of the climbing gym community.
9. Emphasize common climbing courtesy.
10. And most importantly...invite her back for more!
Don’t wait for her to ask you if she can tag along next time—make it easy by extending the invitation.
We hope these tips work for you and help you share the love and grow our great community.
If you have any other tips for people, please share them in the comments!