Essential Rock Climbing Gear

Congrats, you’ve drank the climbing kool-aid.

climbing gear2Once you’ve decided you want to invest your money into the sport of climbing, and already scoped out the local indoor climbing gym, you’re probably ready to commit to purchasing a few items to gear yourself up instead of renting the gear each time.

Climbing Shoes

katana miuraYour rock climbing shoes should be well-fitted. Any climber you ask will be opinionated on what type of shoes work best (for them). For the most part climbing shoes will be uncomfortable and snug. For instance, mine are 2.5 sizes smaller than my street shoe, with my toes curled up so much I have to walk on the sides of my feet when walking around the gym. It’s the way I feel confident and secure on the wall. On the other hand, my climbing partner doesn’t like her feet mangled up in climbing shoes and prefers to have a snug fit, with her feet flat.

After 19 years of climbing, I’ve only bought 3 pairs of climbing shoes, and never resoled a pair. My first pair of climbing shoes were 5.10 Anasazi MoccAsym’s, a comfortable slipper. My second pair, were a unisex shoe at the time, now marketed as men’s, was the La Sportiva Miura’s (shown above in lime green), which is much more of a high performance technical shoe, with crisp edges for stepping on tiny micro crimpy holds, or sustaining your foot holds on overhanging boulder problems: these shoes were/are my favourite. Last year I purchased another pair, this time the La Sportiva Katana’s women shoe (shown with the Mirua’s in baby blue). Less technical than the miura’s but also a great shoe for bouldering, doing heel hooks and smearing.

Price range for climbing shoes: $50-$170


harness checksI will continue to support my Canadian companies, and currently I’m using the Arc’teryx Targa men’s harness. I decided to put my climbing harness into permanent retirement after putting in a few good years of use. I’m onto using my husbands brand new climbing harness that has been sitting around unused for a couple of years. Even that needs to be replaced within the next year, as the webbing on the harness deteriorates after time.

Again, climbing harnesses are all personal preference. Head into a gear shop and try on a couple. You may prefer a minimalistic climbing harness with less padding, or you may enjoy one that is more substantial and has a ton more padding. It should be comfortable. I haven’t a clue what type of harness I’m going to try on when I buy one within the next little while. Anyone have suggestions? What are your favourites?

Price range for harnesses: $60-$130

Chalk + Chalk bag

Half way up the wall with some sweaty hands? Dip your hands in a bit of chalk to dry them off. Chalk bags are meant to tie around your waist as you climb up the wall. But they also make a bit of a statement. There isn’t any specific type of chalk bag I’d recommend to anyone, as it’s all about personal preference on how it looks. For the most part, chalk bags are relatively the same size if you’re tying it around your waist while you climb. Usually chalk bags get a lot of wear and tear, but I like to be relatively careful with mine as I’ve had mine for almost as long as I’ve been climbing. The climbing gym owner back home in Newfoundland made, and sold a bunch in the first few years.

old yeller chalk bagI have a bit of a soft spot for my ol’ yeller chalk bag.

Bouldering chalk bags are different. They’re more bucket style to accommodate both hands fitting into the bucket completely and is designed to stay on the ground while you boulder.

Unicorn Dust by Friction LabsAs for chalk, there are two options for what you can use: loose chalk, or a ball of chalk. I prefer using a ball of chalk in its own sack inside my chalk bag bag so it doesn’t spill out if I drop  it on the ground. I refill my chalk ball with this new brand I found through instagram. This is a sample of Unicorn Dust (awesome name by the way) by Friction Labs. I’m one of those weird climbers who rarely refill my chalk ball, because I don’t feel it’s necessary for myself to have chalked up arms all the way to my elbows. I only need to dry off my hands with a bit of a flick to the chalk bag. A bag of chalk will literally last me an insanely long time. I’d like to give this chalk its own blog post, or talking more about climbing gear in another post, because I don’t want to get into a full review of it, as I’m simply discussing essential rock climbing gear today. I do have to mention it’s pretty sweet, has both chunky and extra fine pieces of chalk in the bag. Best of both worlds.

Price range for chalk + chalk bags: $10-$20

Choice in clothing

climbingWhen I take first timers to a climbing gym, I advise them to wear comfortable yet durable workout clothes. I prefer to wear longer pants as I like to use my knees and legs against the rough walls when climbing. The climbing walls surface is unforgiving, feeling a bit like sand paper, which can tear lightweight fabrics. I’ve seen some people wear jeans but I like to have a larger range of motion and find that jeans are more constricting. When I head in for a climb I opt for a tank top and yoga pants.

You can find rock climbing gear at places like Mountain Equipment Co-Op (Canada), REI (USA), or Amazon.

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Climbing at Planet Granite

Plante-GraniteClimb number two is complete. I mentioned last week I was heading out to Planet Granite to climb with my new buddy, Ellen.

She’s the blog reader turned friend, who contacted me out of the blue to see if I wanted to meet up for a climb last month. Of course I said yes.Ellen-Nancy

It makes me incredibly happy to get a few hours of climbing in, and I’m hoping to become a regular at some point, as the gym isn’t too far from our house. I’m thinking of getting either a 10 clip pass or a monthly membership to the gym, since it includes CrossFit, Yoga, and Climbing. I’ve only climbed in a handful of gyms in Newfoundland and Ontario, but Planet Granite is the biggest climbing gym I’ve ever been at.

Given the fact it’s 25,000 square feet with tons of bouldering, 60 foot walls, 110+ top ropes, there are so many areas and “rooms”. This is one of the areas where we like to climb a few easy routes to warm up our muscles. It’s also where you can purely crack climb or get claustrophobic and climb into a closed space as you can see in the left picture below. Not for me, especially if it’s rated harder.crack-climbing

I couldn’t capture the essence on how huge the place was. They have a spot off to the side with a yoga room, an area for weights, treadmills and even a decent sized gear shop. Plus the staff are super friendly — which is pretty even across the board. Every climbing gym I’ve been to, staff have been awesome.

Notice how there isn’t any tape on top rope climbs? I found it a little strange at first, but you simply follow the colour of the holds rather than the tape. They tape the routes for boulder problems, though. Plante-Granite-gym

Can’t believe we managed to climb for a solid three hours. My hands were only beginning to get sore by the time we were done, which I’m surprised considering how long it’s been since I’ve pulled on plastic.

It’s great that Ellen and I are on the same level of climbing, where we both can easily climb 5.10’s. I attempted the yellow 5.11b in the picture below, getting a few moves up and failing miserably. I might give it another go on fresh hands next time.

Here I am below, deciding to get out of my comfort zone and getting ready to climb a very stemmy 5.9. 59-climb

Those routes scare me a little, since your legs and arms are sprawled openly like you’re climbing up a chimney. I don’t trust my arms mantling (even though those are some of my favourite moves) feel like I’m going to fall and scrape my face off the wall.stemming

For my birthday last year, Scott got me a pair of Lasportiva Katana’s, which I’ve still yet to break in. When I headed to the gym late last week, I made sure to wear them for a few routes.

There’s even a freakin’ slackline set up in the back of the building which Ellen and I had a go at. The ground was covered in rubber bits to soften your falls.Slack-lineI haven’t been on a slackline in a few years, and never been good at it. However it was fun to give it another go. Justin did a great post last year on 5 reasons you should slackline, I agree 100% on all the points he makes.

Hoping to meet up with Carla after school’s out to have a climb at the Planet Granite SF location, which overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge on some routes. Crazy!?!

Have you ever climbed?
If you live around the Bay Area, I’d love to take you!

Are you afraid of heights?
After all these years of climbing, I am still terrified of heights.

When climbing, do you like to boulder, or top route (or something else?)
I love top roping since I’m more of a technical climber than a powerful one. I reserve bouldering for when I don’t have a climbing buddy.

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Climbing in Newfoundland

The next few posts on my blog are going to be quite photo heavy. I’m about to bombard you with pictures from my trip back home to Newfoundland.

Let’s dive right on in b’ys! The first day that I was home I didn’t do too much besides hang out with family, especially my little nephews. That night I got a text from one of my climbing buddies asking me to go outdoor climbing with them by the Manuel’s River. I had never been there before, so I decided to go out for a climb!

I’m not one for outdoor climbing. I don’t have any certification to set up lead or anchors. But I’ll gladly top rope. So that’s exactly what I did.

Lori, me and Kerry getting ready to hike in.


We hiked in the trail about 30 minutes or so, along this muddy, overflown trail. I borrowed some shoes from Lori ;) since I didn’t bring any hikers home. Thanks buddyhiking the trail

This was Lori’s second climb of the day and I wanted to belay her on lead. Chalking up to top rope.climb5 climb7 climb10

High fives throughout the day for the awesome climbing day!climb12

I went up after Lori lead the climb and set the anchors. It was my first time ‘cleaning’ the route, which meant taking off all the quick draws so you’re only left with an anchor at the top for top roping.

Tyin’ in and making faces.IMG_0025

 Sweet moses. It’s been YEARS since I climbed outside. Over 8…climb1

Here we go, cleaning the route:


Apparently it was only a 5.6 but I made it much more difficult, haha.


Scared here.climb13 climb14

Almost to the top. 60 feet.climb16 climb15 climb13

Hellooooo up there!climb17  All the gear safe back on my harness. IMG_0055

I climbed twice more (or maybe just once?) after that climb. One was a 5.9 which I really liked because sections of it were difficult, and others were quite nice and ‘easy’.

Someone brought a dog. I’m obsessed with dogs.lol2

So that’s that! An outdoor climbing adventure a few days before Canada Day. Such a fun (and scary) time. climb20 Tomorrow I’ll be back with more photos from my vacation.

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