To the Top

Cabin fever can be all too real during Maine’s long winters. One of the best ways to combat a snowy slump and stimulate your mind and body is with indoor rock climbing.

We asked climbing instructors at Salt Pump Climbing Company in Scarborough and Evo Rock and Fitness in Portland for their best tips and tricks. Here’s what they said:

Climbing is for Everyone

“Don’t be intimidated,” says Chris Pert of Evo Rock and Fitness. Climbing routes can be as easy as going up a step ladder, or they can present a true physical and mental challenge. Any climber, from young to elderly, is capable of finding a route. “We’ve had young climbers who just started walking, and a woman who came to celebrate her hundredth birthday by climbing one of our walls,” says Pert. Climbing is also an extremely social activity, says William Wild of Salt Pump Climbing Company. “We all support each other because we were all beginners once.”

Start Slow and Steady

“The best thing you can do as a beginner is find a friend to go to the gym with,” says Wild. The earlier you seek instruction, the better. Climbing can be dangerous, so it’s important to learn navigation skills and the risks involved as soon as you can.

Climbing is mental, physical, and emotional: approaching a climb with fear or anxiety can cause you to work harder than necessary. Increased heart rate, gripping hand-holds too tightly, and holding your breath will tire you out quickly, says Pert. “Often, you can outsmart a particular climb to find a more efficient approach.” A relaxed attitude is essential.

Use Your Feet

The best climbers put a lot of pressure on their feet to help push them up the wall, reducing strain and increasing efficiency. The more you climb, the stronger you become, and the easier it gets. Practice truly does make perfect.

Getting Started

For less than $20, you can start with a day pass or a class best suited to your skill level. Classes and passes are available at Evo Rock and Fitness in Portland and Salt Pump Climbing Company in Scarborough.

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