20 things NOT to do on your first sport climbing holiday

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 12/09/2017
Don't mess it up and you could look like this. Photo: Shutterstock / Alex Brylov
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Pros from Steve McClure to Jim Pope and instructors including Jon Gupta and Rich Mayfield offer their top tips of what NOT to do on your first sport climbing holiday. Even sponsored heroes and mountain guides were beginners, once...

1. Avoid getting a guidebook in a foreign language. People have misinterpreted important details like how many quickdraws are needed for a route, or how long a rope to use with disastrous consequences.

2. On which note: don't forget to check that you have enough quickdraws and that your rope is long enough for your planned route!

3. Don't go all out on day one. You'll regret it for the rest of the trip!

4. Don't project just one route all holiday, or decide to work on your weaknesses. This is supposed to be fun, right?


Projecting one route could prove unproductive for you and your belayer...

5. Don't expect too much from yourself to begin with - a lot of people who climb hard inside expect to do the same when they transition outside, but it's another game really.

6. Don't skim read the guidebook and jump on – some European routes are only partly equipped and you could find yourself crying over a horrific 15m runout.

7. Don't put on loads of suncream at the crag and slide off every hold you pull on all day.

8. Equally, though, don't forget the suncream – a nice breeze on a walk-in can prove to have been deceptive when you arrive at the sun-trap crag.


Crags can be deceptive sun-traps. Photo: Shutterstock / lazyllama

9. You're not at the climbing wall... Don't forget to put quickdraws on your harness before setting off!

10. It's generally easy to remember the baguette and Brie but forget something important like your shoes or harness in all the excitement.


She's remembered the lunch at least... Photo: Mick Ryan

11. Start cautiously – a polished 6a can feel like a 7a.

12. Don't forget to research the area you're climbing at – some crags may require walking through a nudist beach or climbing on one, and you may be pressured to meet the dress code...


Do you meet the dress code? Photo: Shutterstock / Michel Piccaya

11. Don't forget to follow local crag etiquette – for example, abseiling down a multi-pitch sport route that is clearly marked 'walk off from top' may upset the locals and ensure a good blasting from any guides.

12. Don't leave all your climbing gear in the car at supermarket and have it stolen before you get to the hotel.

13. Try not to let the locals steal your lunch, either.


Not just a pretty good climber. Photo: Shutterstock / Zachary Garber

14. Don't drive the wrong way down the motorway and crash your car.

15. Don't break your arm on the first night when you get drunk and fall down the steps at the hotel. It's best not to fall off the pavement and break your ankle, either.

16. Don't think it is a good idea to drive your very small hire car down any of the tracks to Spanish crags.

17. Don't think it is a good idea to drive your large hire car up any steep and narrow roads to reach Italian crags.


Nope can't think what could go wrong here. Photo: Shutterstock / Jeni Photo


Or here... Photo: Shutterstock / Youproduction

20. Don't drive all the way to Morocco, only to be asked for your car documents, which you forgot to pack...

Thanks to Steve McClure, Jim Pope, Rich Mayfield, Matt Woodfield, Andy 'Ted' Davies, Sam Mayfield, Rich Mayfield, Nik Goile, Rebecca Coles, Jon Gupta, Matt Cooper and Chris Wyatt for letting us benefit from the wisdom of their experiences! We'll let you work out whose advice belongs to who! Answers in the thread?


As Europe is unlocked, BMC travel insurance is loaded with the essential cover that you need for adventure.  

From 10 July, many European destinations are opening up to UK travellers. This means that you can still have your summer adventure – from sport climbing in Spain to trekking in the Alps.

BMC travel insurance comes in five policies: Travel, Trek, Rock, Alpine and Ski and High Altitude.

All of our policies include the following Coronavirus cover:

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Please be aware that there is no cover for cancellation, curtailment, delays or journey disruption in any way caused by or resulting from coronavirus / Covid-19. Read more about the Covid-travel FAQs here


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