Rock climbing for beginners


Have you seen people ascending steep rock faces or artificial rock walls that seem impossible to walk up? You probably wondered how they got up there. Maybe your curiosity elevated the urge to even try the sport, but perhaps you don't know where to start.  

Here is our basic guide with all the tips on exploring rock climbing as a newbie.

For a novice climber, it's best to start with bouldering and top-rope climbing as these will give you a foundation to later take on bigger challenges like lead climbing.

  • With top-rope climbing, a rope is initially anchored to a spot at the top of the route. The climber ascends towards this spot while another person (belayer) remains at the bottom of the rock face keeping the rope taut. 

   By having a taut rope and a firm anchor point, there is no chance of falling even when you slip off the rock. The belayer is usually a well-trained climber and can guide you as you go up.

  • Bouldering is a basic form of climbing which requires minimal gear. All you need is climbing shoes, a chalk bag and a crash pad to offer a safe landing in case you jump or fall off the rock. Bouldering walls tend to be shorter than other climbing walls or cliffs. The routes are usually identified by the colour of the holds.

What to wear

Clothes worn for hiking work perfectly for climbing too. They must fit in a way that won’t restrict your movement. The best climbing attire is breathable, sweat-wicking and quick-drying to keep you comfortable as you climb. 

Climbing gear

You need climbing gear majorly for top-rope climbing. As your skills and interest increase, so will your comprehension of what each piece of equipment accomplishes and how it serves your needs. Here are the basic items to get you started.

Climbing shoes

Climbing shoes protect your feet and provide the required friction between your feet and the rock. They are made of rubber and look like a combination of plimsolls and ballet shoes. Rock-climbing footwear is meant to fit snugly allowing you to better feel the holds as you climb.

NB: Rock climbing shoes are not suitable for long-distance walking and should be left for climbing only.


Always wear a helmet designed specifically for climbing when climbing outside. Climbing helmets are designed to cushion your head from falling rock and debris, as well as give protection in the event of a fall.

Climbing harness

A harness enables you to easily and securely attach to the rope.

It has two primary components:

Waist belt: The waist belt is wrapped around the waist to keep you comfortable, especially during the longest climbs where you might hang for long time.

Leg hoops: One loop is wrapped around each leg. Numerous harnesses provide leg loops that are adjustable. 


These durable lightweight metal rings are used to connect the climbing rope to climbing protection like bolts, nuts, and camming devices.

As a beginner climber, you need a locking carabiner which is designed for use with a belay device.

Belay device

This aids the belayer in maintaining control over the rope. Utilized properly, a belay device enhances friction, which aids the belayer in catching a fall, lowering a climber and paying out the rope progressively as the climber advances.

You may not need your own belay device the first few times you climb, but it is an essential piece of equipment that you will eventually want to own.

Climbing rope

The rope is the most critical piece of equipment for a climber. However, if you are just starting, you will likely be provided with one. As you get better at climbing, the best rope for you will depend on where and what you are climbing.


Chalk is used to improve a climber’s grip. It can absorb sweat from your hands. The chalk is kept in a small pouch that you hang from your waist with a thin belt.

Chalk bag

The chalk is placed here and used during a climb.


This one is a must for bouldering. These thick foam pads are placed at the bottom of the bouldering area to enable softer landing in case of a fall.

Where to go for rock climbing in Uganda.

The MCU quarry in Muyenga is a good place to start. 

This crag is located next to Clarke International University in Muyenga and features over 20 belay routes, with more being set up continuously. Sunny Outdoors Ug schedules climbing trips to the quarry on its yearly calendar. There are also social climbing days organised along with the Mountain Club of Uganda that manages the quarry. You can rent their gear in case you don't have your own. Please visit their website to find out more.

Cafe Roma

In the backyard of Cafe Roma lies a bouldering wall. The first of its kind in Uganda. This restaurant is situated along Tank hill road in Muyenga. The bouldering wall is owned and managed by the Mountain Club of Uganda.


The Mountain Club of Uganda occasionally organises climbing trips to Luwazi. The Luwazi rock is located about 40km out of Kampala in Kijjo village, near Kalagi along Gayaza road. The crag has a good number of top-rope climbing routes that work well for beginner climbers. For further information on the Luwazi crag, check the Mountain Club of Uganda website

Happy climbing!