Get climbing

Climbing is defined as the activity of using one's hands, feet or any other part of the body to ascend a steep object. It is an exciting way to stay fit and build strength, and can be done indoors or out on a multitude of different surfaces.

Get climbing is a section intended to educate the reader about the sport of climbing. Rock climbing, wall climbing and abseiling are covered in addition to information about where to go, what to wear and what equipment is necessary.

Climbing girl 

Getting Started

There is plenty of information about climbing on the web. Follow the links below to find out more about climbing in the UK.

  • The British Mountaineering Council - A representative body that exists to protect the freedoms and promote the interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers, including ski-mountaineers.
  • - The latest climbing news, photos and videos, climbing destination guides, climbing gear and equipment reviews, climbing competitions and special offers.
  • UKClimbing - UK Climbing is the definitive source for all Climbing and Mountain-related activity. A central source of information for climbing in the UK, and the best place to start your climbing on the Internet.
  • Climb Magazine - Website of a popular UK climbing magazine with news, photos, videos and archived articles.

Types of climbing

Climbing is done for recreation, for sport, in trades that rely upon it and in vital emergency and rescue operations.

Your first experience of climbing was probably out of a cot or crib as a child. From there you may have ventured up a tree in your back garden, or up a rope in P.E. lessons, but for most people this is where it stops.

Bouldering, canyoning, ice climbing, indoor climbing, mountaineering, rock climbing, rope climbing and top roping are just a few climbing activities that are undertaken all over the world by enthusiasts of all ages and abilities.


Bouldering is climbing short routes over large boulders. No ropes and minimal equipment, but maximum effort.

The objective is to get up, around, or over the boulder simply without falling off. Once considered to be a playful alternative to 'real' climbing, the popularity of bouldering has skyrocketed in recent years, with new challenges and locations being found all over the country and the world!

Bouldering is a short and technical activity, usually undertaken with a friend and a crash mat. The only equipment necessary is said crash mat, some climbing shoes and some chalk with a chalk bag. Usually only one dip into the chalk is necessary since bouldering problems are short and communal chalk bags are left on the floor.

Traditional climbing

Traditional, or 'trad' climbing involves scaling a rock whilst placing removable metal protection into it, designed to arrest a fall.

This discipline's defining feature is the need to place and depend on your own protection on the way up. This makes trad climbing rather gear-focussed, and the climber needs to carry a rack with protection gadgets, carabiners, ropes and slings with them.

Because traditional climbers bring all their own equipment with them, they have the freedom and choice to climb almost anything they like! Trad climbs vary from short hustles up cliffs, to multi-day epic journeys up larger rock faces.

Sport climbing

Sport climbing involves scaling rock faces with pre-placed bolts for protection. This frees the climber from the burden of placing and relying upon their own protection.

This tends to be the discipline of choice for new and aspiring climbers because it allows the climber to experience the thrill of ascent without needing the technique, skill or experience to place traditional protection. However, sport climbing is just as popular with experienced climbers who are attracted by the prospect of pushing themselves and their skills to the limit within a predictable, controlled environment.

To start sport climbing, in addition to proper footwear you will need the following:

  • Rope
  • Harness
  • Belay
  • Carbiners, quickdraws and slings


Mountaineering is a term that covers rock climbing, trekking and camping rolled into one formidable package.

Whether it's a scramble up a local peak, or an extended three-month expedition, mountaineering is a challenge and a test of yourself and your team. Calling upon navigational abilities, teamwork strategies, weather forecasting skills and many other specialist skills not usually associated with climbing, mountaineering is uniquely demanding.

Not all mountaineering expeditions necessarily involve scaling the steep and technical rock faces common in other climbing disciplines, and many peaks can be conquered relatively easily without any specialist equipment. Other peaks can require significant climbing knowledge and experience as well as a large amount of specialist climbing and camping gear.

Preparedness is key, as is having a team you know you can rely on. Visit your local specialist to find out more.

Find your local shop

Visit our find a shop page and visit your local specialist for more information on climbing equipment.