Rock Climbing

Scale new heights and have a great workout

April 14, 2014  |  By Joanna Stahl, United Kingdom

Rock Climbing

Photo : Joanna Stahl

Rock climbing is a fantastic sport that can be done all over the world. Not only is it great fun and different every time you do it, it is also the perfect workout.

A life-changing experience
When I first entered City Rock, a great place for indoor rock climbing in Cape Town, I was greeted with brightly coloured climbing walls, a relaxed atmosphere and very friendly staff. After a quick look around I could see there was a variety of different climbing walls and a bouldering section, all for various abilities. 

Bouldering is fairly different from regular rock climbing. The rock boulders used are 1–3m from the ground, no ropes are used and thick mats are placed underneath in case the climber falls. Bouldering is good to practise difficult moves for climbing safely and some people simply love bouldering as a sport itself. In fact, City Rock’s manager Tarryn MacLean describes the bouldering section as the most challenging area they have, ‘Many people have a walk past and think it looks so easy but it can be very challenging. Working against gravity and against yourself.’

Not only are the staff friendly and approachable, but they are also very knowledgeable and passionate about rock climbing. Tarryn started rock climbing as a hobby then found herself employed at City Rock. I personally enjoy climbing, as it is totally different every time I do it. Something Tarryn agrees with. ‘The key thing for people is it is something different to a regular activity, and it is entertaining and interesting. People give it a try and have a hell of a lot of fun and keep coming back for more’.

So where can you try it?
City Rock is located in Observatory, Cape Town and offers different courses depending on age. For adults they offer an introduction course, which teaches the basics of climbing and belaying. Belaying, in climbing is a simple procedure of holding the rope and the climber in the event of a fall. Children six years and older can learn to climb using their DIY courses where they can climb as long as they want, under the supervision of an adult. They also are able to use the automatic belay. This wall is where they are able to climb 8m with a harness and a rope, and the automatic belay system of the wall means they can come down whenever they want to. There is also the Test Drive option for children where one of the staff will belay the child on their climbing walls for an hour.

They also offer an option where you can book one of their staff to belay your child on their main climbing walls (i.e. we manage the safety rope). The course cost includes entrance, gear rental and a staff member for one hour.

How much of a workout?
Not only is rock climbing a fun and unique sport, it is also very healthy for you. It works out your forearms, upper body, lower body and core, so a full body work out. Best of all you do not even realise you’re doing it! You don’t even realise that you are working out as you’re having so much fun and challenging yourself. Not only this, but Tarryn also describes how it is a great way to distress as you leave ‘all your problems at the front door’.

Taking indoor climbing outdoors
Many people think of climbing as an indoor sport. However, starting indoors is a great way to start. As Tarryn explained it enables you to ‘get all the basics of your safety and a bit of experience and your confidence gets built up too’.Not only this, but starting indoors enables you to meet a variety of different people who are also practising indoors for outdoor purposes. So Indoor climbing is a great way to start off, if it is outdoor climbing you are interested in for the long run.

What better place to want to rock climb outdoors than Cape Town? Tarryn describes it perfectly, ‘You can climb every day of your life for the rest of your life and still wouldn’t have climbed everything, spoilt for choice’. Table Mountain is of course an obvious choice, but there are plenty of others. Check out There are 23 different areas provided for outdoor climbing and over 300 different routes.

However, it is important to point out that safety aspects do increase when climbing outdoors. Tarryn explained how it is down to a lot more variables. For example rocks falling down the mountain, weather, other climbers and wildlife. Nevertheless it is a smaller proportion of the climbing community who are injured. Tarryn went on to say how ironically it is hikers that get into more trouble than climbers as they underestimate how safe Table Mountain is. Nevertheless, even though outdoor climbing does have its risks, if well planned and organised, with proper safety equipment this most definitely lowers the risks.

It is also important when climbing outdoors to consider the environment that you are climbing in. ‘Clean climbing’ is a term used to describe both the equipment and techniques climbers adopts in order to avoid minimal damage to the environment, the rock in particular. There are many ways you can adopt clean climbing. For example, litter removal…

Climbing is clearly a sport that is different from the norm and offers lot of fun. So if you are after a challenge, change of scenery and a fun way to work out, why not give it a go.


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