Free climbing is both the best and the worst way to introduce yourself to the sport. It all depends on what you mean by free. One type of free is without having to spend money, which is an excellent way to try something for the first time and see if you like it without investing anything beyond your time.
The other kind of free climbing is climbing without aids like pegs and pitons, which is something that complete newbies should definitely avoid. Rest assured we’re talking about the type where your wallet stays in your trousers throughout.
Global Climbing Day falls on 18th August and to celebrate the occasion The North Face is putting on free climbing events all over the world. Last year 20,000 people took part in The North Face’s Global Climbing Day events, and this year the outdoor gear brand is hoping that 100,000 people will join in as part of its Walls Are Meant For Climbing campaign.
For every person that registers to climb at one of the 150 centres in the campaign The North Face will donate $1 to Khumbu Climbing Center in Nepal (up to $100,000), an institution that promotes safe climbing and offers vocational training for the people who live there. So even if you don’t enjoy climbing at all you can at least go home safe in the knowledge that you helped contribute to a charitable cause.
In the UK there are five confirmed climbing centres participating: in London, Stronghold Climbing in Tottenham Hale, Barbers Climbing Gym in Hackney and Hackney Wick Boulder Project will have free entry all day, while Harrow Wall is free from 2-6pm; and in Manchester, Rock Over Climbing is offering free entrance from 2-7pm.
All the centres will have experts on hand to help get you set up and ready to climb, and if you opt to go bouldering you won’t need to learn the ins and outs of ropes and harnesses because it doesn’t use them. Not because everyone who does bouldering is a daredevil, but because you don’t go high enough to need them, making it perfect for beginner climbers.
Register for one of the limited spots as quickly as you can at The North Face website.