A common question that many beginner rock climbers have is: how much does it cost to buy all my own climbing gear? There is a bit of a perception out there that rock climbing is an expensive sport.
It’s easiest to answer this question if we consider climbing as a sport with “tiers.” One enters at the lowest tier, and then ascends by buying more gear and acquiring more technical knowledge. Each tier is additive, building upon skills and equipment obtained in the last tier.
The simplest form of climbing, Bouldering involves short routes of five to fifteen feet, which are climbed without the use of a rope. Bouldering can be practiced either indoors at a climbing gym, or can be done outdoors, on actual boulder.
Bouldering is the climbing discipline with the lowest barrier to entry.
Those looking to equip themselves for bouldering need to only buy a pair of rock climbing shoes. A decent starter pair of climbing shoes can be bought for as little as 60 or 70 dollars.
Most boulderers also use chalk and a chalk bag. Although these are not necessary, you will probably find yourself wanting them.
For bouldering outdoors, a crash pad can provide some extra security, although again, one is not necessary.
Cost to get into bouldering: $60—$200
Climbing in a dedicated climbing gym is far and away the most popular form of rock climbing today. Thousands of people across the nations learn to climb in gyms every day, and most will never venture out to real rock.
Buying equipment for gym climbing is really easy. All outdoors retailers will sell a “beginner’s climbing package” consisting of a harness, a locking carabiner, and a belay device. Usually, you can get this package with a chalk bag, or without, depending on your preference.
Here’s a popular beginner climbing package, including chalk and chalk bag.
After that, all you need is a pair of rock shoes, and you’re set to climb at the gym. No more rental shoes for you!
Cost to get into Gym climbing: $150-$200
This is where things start to get more expensive.
Sport climbing is outdoor climbing on pre-installed routes. Sport climbers can only climb on cliffs where other climbers have installed permanent bolts and anchors. Luckily, there are plenty of these bolted routes around the world. You can check out MountainProject.com for a comprehensive, searchable database of sport climbing routes.
A sport climber needs, at minimum: all the gear for gym climbing, plus a climbing rope, and ten quickdraws. A Personal Anchor System for cleaning routes is also recommended.
The rope is the big ticket item here. A good climbing cord will usually cost from $150 to $250, although there are occasionally good sales (check out this Edelrid rope for $115). A 60-meter rope is the modern standard. Some sport climbers prefer 70 meter ropes for longer routes.
Quickdraws, used for catching lead climbing falls, usually cost about $60 for 5.
Additional cost to get into sport climbing: $250+
This is where things start to get really painful.
Trad climbing is an advanced form of rock climbing where climbers place and remove their own equipment in the rock, allowing them to climb on non-bolted routes. This allows for a properly-equipped climber to venture almost anywhere she wants, but at added risk.
By the time you start buying trad gear, you should be totally consumed by climbing.
You can, of course, buy trad gear whenever you want. But the high cost and the increased possibility for serious harm if the equipment is misused usually keeps most people sport climbing for a year or two before they start getting an itch to buy trad gear.
Trad climbing gear is varied, and every climber’s needs will be dependent upon the area they climb most frequently. That said, a “standard rack” as referred to in most climbing guidebooks usually includes the following:
- One set of Black Diamond Stoppers (Nuts) #4-13 ($80)
- One set of Black Diamond Cams, sizes .3-3 ($400)
- One set of microcams (Metolious TCU or similar) ($150-$300)
- 4-6 Quickdraws ($40-$60)
- 8 “Alpine Draws” (extendable quickdraws) (variable price… say around $160)
- One Nut Tool (for cleaning gear) ($10-$20)
- One or two Cordelettes (for building anchors) ($20-$40)
- At least a dozen nonlocking carabiners ($60-$100)
And that’s really only a starting point. As you climb more and learn more, you will understand what gear you. need and what gear you don’t need. That’s why, if possible, most trad climbers learn what types of pieces they like by using a partner’s rack, before they start purchasing their own. We recommend this.
Bottom line, additional cost to get into trad climbing buying all that equipment new: $500—$1,000
The good news is, all that climbing equipment costs a lot, but it lasts a long time.
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One thought on “How Much Does it Cost to Get Into Rock Climbing?”
This is very enlightening. I wrote an article on how to rock climb but I never thought about how much it would cost to do so. I never realized how much it could potentially add up. Thank you for the insights.