Is it Okay to Only Climb Indoors?

Indoor climbing has seen a massive boom in the last couple of years. Commercial climbing facilities are popping up everywhere and climbing gyms are getting more crowded than ever. The age of old-school climbing gyms designed for off-season training is truly over.

Climbing gyms are getting more commercial, and cater more and more to the general public as opposed to hard-core climbers. As a side effect, many new indoor climbers have never gone outdoors. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Climbing is so much more than an outdoor sport now. Indoor climbing, and particularly, indoor bouldering has become a sport of its own.

it’s not weird to be a gym climber.

Gym climbers are still climbers. Plastic or real rock, gym climbers are still participating in the sport of climbing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Yes, there are some snobs out there who will refer to ‘rock climbing’ as the only ‘real’ climbing but what does their opinion really matter? I can guarantee you that if you ask any real climber worth their shit, they won’t look down upon gym climbing.

Many climbers live far removed from any real rock. Or don’t know anyone to help them safely get started with rock climbing. Should location and accessibility really have an impact on what you can call yourself? Of course not.

Continue what you are doing. You can call yourself a climber, even when you only boulder indoors.

you should still try outdoor climbing

…when you are ready.

Outdoor climbing is awesome (just like indoor climbing is!) and at some point, you will feel the itch to climb outside. I recommend that you try it should the opportunity arise.

Ensure that you can do it safely of course. Familiarise yourself with outdoor climbing ethics, have some climbing experience (6-12 months), and ideally, you’ll join someone who is familiar with outdoor climbing to help you out.


Is indoor climbing still considered rock climbing?

Indoor climbing (or gym climbing) is a form of rock climbing. As rock climbing is often seen as the umbrella term for every type of climbing, even ice climbing.

Can I call myself a rock climber if I only climb indoors?

Many will argue that you can’t call yourself a rock climber if you have never climbed on real rock. And I can understand that notion. You are, however, free to call yourself whatever you want. But if you are a gym-only climber then the term ‘climber’ is probably more applicable than ‘rock climber’.

How much time do I need to climb indoors to go outdoors?

You can start rock climbing whenever you want. After all, rock climbing has been practiced for way longer than gym climbing has. Many rock climbers started climbing on real rock before gyms even became a thing.

If you are a gym boulderer, I’d say that 6-12 months is a good time to start thinking about outdoor climbing. By then you should have a good basis for climbing technique sufficient to start on easy outdoor boulder problems.

It’s recommended to bring someone who knows their way around the crag and can help you get started safely.

More articles like this

Leave a Comment