So you’ve finally tried your hand at rock climbing and decided that you love it. The physical challenge, the social aspects, the problem solving, the feeling of defying grafity- you’ve been hooked by all that! Well there are some things you should know ahead of times and you need few pieces of gear.
Rock climbing is a quite extreme, usually outdoor, activity that sharpens the muscle strength and strategies to reach the top point. Hands are everything and if you hope to last more than 15 minutes consider purchasing a hand gripper. Work up to squeezing out about 50 reps daily. Then there is your core which actually does much of the work to keep your body close to the wall. Start incorporating planks, bridges into your regular gym routine.
Overall flexibility and mobility will give you a leg up when start climbing. For beginners, it’s good if you work on your hips. You can try as much to sit in butterfly pose or pigeon pose. Open hips mean you will be able to reach better tough foot hold and generate momentum from your lower body. And there is your cardio. It is common for new climbers without cardio base to get winded halfway up a route. Try to build a solid base either before or during the early stages of your climbing pursuits.
However, how you move your foot is often more important than where you place your hands. Good climbers probably spend 80% of the time looking at their feet . You can also do rock climbing on walls that provide fiber points for footing and grips. And of course you will need some help from gears such as harness, climbing rack, carabiners, mainly a 70m rope, chalk bags, helmet and for sure a pair of good rubber climbing shoes.
And finally there is the climbing attitude. Demonstrating basic climbing manners will make it easier for you to assimilate. A few things to avoid:
- Don’t start climbing a route in the exact same time as the person on the route next to you, even if your route don’t intersect, people need a little space on the wall. Let them at least a third of the way up before you start.
- Don’t step on the rope. It’s the thing that saves your life in a fall, so you don’t want to do anything that will wear it down faster. It’s not as big as a deal if you are indoors, but it is not a habit you want to get into.
- Don’t make a lot of noise, it is not that you are in a gym or tennis field. The vibe in climbing is more like in yoga.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. In the climbing gym, there is music blasting and a good amount of socializing. Outside, it’s much more tranquil. Pay attention.
Rock climbing in Bali is very much in its infancy but you can definitely find some nice spots to challenge most beginners up to advanced climbers looking for challenging routes. The best climbing in Bali is found in the Songan Village in Kintamani. It takes 20 minutes from Toyabungkah, 1 hour 30 minutes from Ubud and 2 hours from Denpasar. The rock hills here are the best in Bali and the highest wall goes up over 100 meters.
With dramatic views over to the mighty active volcano Mount Batur and being in the shade in afternoon makes this destination the perfect place to come, spend the night, climb and just hang out with the locals. However, the grade on these walls are surprisingly difficult and will challenge all levels of climbers.
The routes are fully bolted and looked after very well by the Bali climbers and you will definitely find some spot to suit your level. Due to its location and beauty, this Songan Rock Hill become a special attraction for rock climbing lovers. At least it had been used as venue for some Indonesian Rock Climbing Festival since 2015 and the latest one was held in June 2019 in Indonesia Climbing Festival.
I Komang Kertia, Head of both Banjar (village) Tabu in Songan said that it is the natural beauty of the cliff that attracts many climbers both Indonesian locals and abroad. Many climbers also said that Songan Cliff is the one and only high rock cliff that is perfect for rock climbing so there will be a potential to be developed into a tourist destination as well.
Kertia also said that this matter had been previously discussed along with the Tourism Awareness Group but the process of developing the area into tourist attraction/destination was hampered by several obstacles mainly the unsupporting community.
Songan Village itself is a very nice place with lots and lots of cool air with more or less 6000 inhabitants with the majority of them work as farmers. They farm some kettles but growing vegetables are the most they do. If you spend the night before or after you do your rock climbing in the village, you will have the opportunity to enjoy those vegetable farmlands and have some taste of their fresh harvest. Tomatoes, carrots and lettuces are among them. They have also delicious and juicy Jeruk Kintamani, give it a try, you won’t regret it.
It is quite easy to go to these cliff walls because its location is very close to Songan highways. It is also part of Mount Batur geopark caldera area. You can use private vehicles or public transportation to reach the location.
The local villagers are very friendly and if you go alone one of them can certainly belay for you. There was Indonesian climbing Jamboree being held here some years back so almost everybody in the village know all the routes and some basic skills like belaying. Trust them at your own discretion.
For beginners, there are some terms you’ll need to know and learn in rock climbing.
- Belaying : every climber on the wall has a partner standing on the ground with the other end of the climber’s rope tied into the partner’s harness. The partner, or belayer, is responsible for feeding out rope when needed, taking up slack when needed and “catching” the climber in case of fall by locking off the rope.
- The FEFT Knot : The Figure Eight Follow Through knot, more commonly known as the figure eight, is the first knot every climbers learns and the most important one in climbing because it is used to connect the rope to your harness – that is, tying in. It is simple to master, doesn’t require any backup knot and totally bomber. After a few tries, you will be able to do it in your sleep.
- Humility : climbing techniques can be surprisingly counterintuitive to execute. You won’t get it the first time, or the second, or even the third. In fact, climbing technique can take years to figure out, let alone master. The good new’s is that it is fun and interesting to practice and extremely gratifying when it starts to click.
All climbers must keep in mind is that rock climbing in a gym is completely different than climbing outside. Grades are going to feel a lot harder outside than inside. Plus you probably won’t have access to trained instructors and the outdoors is a less controlled environment – you are at the mercy of weather conditions and natural holds. But when the time comes and as long as you take the proper safety precautions and communicate well with your partner, heading out can be way more fun than climbing indoors.
Do not forget to learn about the code of ethics that climbers adhere to when climbing outdoors. A few principles include leave no trace, wait for your turn before climbing, don’t play loud music or be obknoxious, help with trail maintenance, brush your tickmarks, avoid spraying beta and respect routes or area closures.
It will also a good support if you attend climbing festivals to immerse yourself in all aspects of climbing culture. At festivals you often have a chance to participate in crag clean-ups, attend sweet climbing workshops, listen to slideshows, meet climbing gear vendors, get free stuff and make awesome connections.
So what are you waiting for? Prepare your gears, open and learn your google map on how to get to Songan Village Kintamani and enjoy your climbing!