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Safety is your responsibility. This article is not a substitute for qualified in-person training.


  • Climbing shoes
  • Crash pad(s)
  • Chalk
  • Brush
  • Guidebook
  • Water
  • Food
  • Bags for garbage
  • If no toilets are available, “toilet kit” (TP, wipes, trowel, zip-lock bags for used TP and wipes). Wag bag(s) if going to an area where human waste must be packed out.
  • Extra clothing, rain jacket, sun hat, sunscreen, etc.
  • Firts-aid kit


Read the guidebook, talk to other climbers, consult online resources, and choose your warm-up area—ideally a place with several easy boulder problems. A long traverse makes a great warm-up.

Find and follow existing trails—read the guidebook, look for signs and clearly marked paths, and don’t be afraid to ask for directions!

Unlike in an urban environment, it is customary to make eye contact and say hello when encountering other humans in an outdoor recreation area. Most climbers will be friendly and helpful if you slow down and say hi. This makes it easy to ask for directions and route recommendations.

Upon arriving at a climbing area, choose a spot to put your gear. Don’t “explode” your packs all over the place—this tends to result in other climbers’ stuff getting mixed in with yours, and then you or someone else is likely to leave something behind and not realize it until later. Even if you’re the only ones there, keep your stuff contained in case more people arrive.

Don’t sit or put packs on top of vegetation—stick to durable and previously-impacted surfaces.

Do your pre-climbing warm-ups—arm circles, finger warm-ups, etc.

Position crash pads under your warm-up problem(s). Ask for spotters as needed.

Figure out the descent before you climb to the top of anything!

Start slowly. Jumping on a hard move right away is a great way to tweak a tendon. Listen to your body!

move on to harder problems Again, use established trails—read the guidebook and ask for directions as needed.

Each time you get ready to leave an area, “sweep” the area to make sure you’re not forgetting anything. Pick up trash and chunks of chalk, even if they’re not yours. Try to leave this shared space better than you found it! If you “ticked” any holds, please brush away the tick marks so the next climber has the fun of figuring it out for him/herself.

Be safe, be respectful of other visitors, drink water, wear sunscreen, have fun!

At the end of the day, it’s a good idea to spend at least 10-20 minutes stretching so that you don’t wake up super tight and sore the next day. It will also lengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility.

Note: Bouldering tends to be the most “front-country” form of climbing, meaning you’re not usually in a wilderness area (if you are in the wilderness, behave accordingly). You may be in a city park or other urban environment. Dogs, music and large groups of people are fairly normal in many bouldering areas. Still, before bringing your dogs, make sure dogs are allowed, keep your dogs under control, and pick up after them! Ask other climbers if they’d like you to turn your music down or off. If a bouldering area is near a hiking trail, be aware that hikers generally are seeking peace and quiet, so don’t listen to music there. Thanks for being a good member of the community and helping preserve climber access!

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