Anybody who scales cliffs is probably an adrenaline junkie, but be careful how you
get your fix. “The rookie mistake is not taking safety seriously,” says Stork. “I was climbing with a friend, and he didn’t finish his own knot, because he was so intent on tying his girlfriend’s knot. His knot came undone. He fell over 12m and fractured his back.”
Don’t be that guy.
When top-rope climbing (the beginner technique that requires a belay partner), you should always run the rope through two carabiners, both attached to the anchor as backup. And if you’re climbing in an area with loose rock, wear a helmet. If you find yourself falling, assume this position, devised by German researchers: extend your arms forward at shoulder level. Just before you hit the rock face, swing your feet towards it so they absorb the shock when you make contact. Once you land – no earlier – grab the rope just above the knot to avoid flipping. That’s the scary stuff. More likely are overuse injuries, like tendinitis in your fingers. “Keep your centre of gravity close to the wall. New climbers often swing their hips back. That strains your upper extremities,” says Stauffer. “Climbing shouldn’t feel like a series of pull-ups. Your legs should drive you.”
Know This Knot
If you learn to tie only one climbing knot, make it this one
The figure-eight follow-through is the gold standard knot in the climbing world. That’s because it creates a no-slip loop that you can attach to carabiners without placing a lot of stress on the rope, says Stauffer.