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Climbing Rocks: A Beginner’s Guide

The Bat Cave ~ Flagstaff, AZ

The Bat Cave ~ Flagstaff, AZ

The bouldering to be had in Flagstaff, AZ was daunting, yet exquisite.

It was our first attempt at the art of “rock climbing,” a person moving their completely engaged, muscular body gracefully up and down one side of a cliff face. With or without ropes.

The climb itself was as revitalizing as it was terrifying. Our pal Knot was an excellent guide who knew (and owned) all the ropes. It’s great to have someone to yell bits of encouragement 20 ft. up at you and mention useful hand and foot holds (most of which are thumb-sized nubs or hair-line cracks).

Doin' the barefoot climb ~ at The Pit ~ Flagstaff, AZ

Doin’ the barefoot climb ~ at The Pit ~ Flagstaff, AZ

I was sweating profusely (that’s what the chalk is for!) but all smiles, and we all made it up and down a few runs before wiping out on those loveable, supportive rocks.

We were able to climb often here, as it seems like most climbers jump at the chance to take out and belay their friends! Two places I remember were the Bat Cave (bouldering) and the Pit (rope belays). I gained much respect for the art & sport of the climb. It truly is a mental sport of focus and will that challenges your fears, emotions and decision making process while you commune with the monumental elements of nature.

And while managing to do all my scrambling barefoot (big feet), I totally gained an affinity for the “climbing culture” itself. The people were cool, the music was chill (when they brought speakers) and the climber’s dogs were a wily riot. I vaguely grasped a sort of “climber’s code” carrying an aire of mutual respect for the land and others, with a well-kept leave no trace policy.

Sunset in Flagstaff

Sunset in Flagstaff

Except for those tell-tale metal bolts & hooks on any sexy rock face and the occasional smear of climber’s chalk, all of which I now frequently see on hikes. Climbers rule!

Travel Tip ~ When it comes to rock climbing, my advice is ~ keep it simple. I had always shied away from the sport due to my perception that a lot of expensive equipment was required. My experience now is that the community is eager to share their love of the climb & supplies with newbs, often willing to host excursions & belay friends. All you really need is yourself, any clothes you might be wearing, and your bare feet. And you’ll have a great time.

Here’s a link to a blog with actually safe rock climbing advice: Adrenaline Romance.

The Pit ~ Flagstaff, AZ

The Pit ~ Flagstaff, AZ

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