Climbing in Cardiff: A Beginner's Guide To Scaling The City's Best Climbing Walls & Rock Faces
Are you ready to take your climbing skills to the next level?
Cardiff and its surrounding area offers a unique landscape of technical crags and exciting rock faces which provides the perfect opportunity for rock climbers of all levels.
Whether you're an experienced climber looking for a new challenge, or just starting out and wanting to learn the basics, this guide has you covered.
Let’s get started!
What Are The Different Types Of Climbing?
There are four main types of free rock climbing, these are known as Traditional Climbing, Bouldering, Sport Climbing and Free Solo Climbing.
What Is Traditional Climbing?
Traditional climbing is a type of free climbing in rock climbing where the lead climber places the protection equipment while ascending the climbing route.
The leader will look for cracks, pockets and other scars in the rock to place protection which can be used to arrest a fall; when the lead climber has completed the route or pitch, the second climber then removes the protection equipment as they climb the route.
Traditional climbing is often seen as far more mentally taxing than sport climbing and bouldering as it relys on the leader finding and placing adequate protection to ensure their safety.
It can also often take climbers to far more remote and serious locations than other forms of climbing, for example big mountains and difficult to access sea cliffs.
What Is Bouldering?
Bouldering is a form of free climbing that is performed on small rock formations or artificial rock walls without the use of ropes or harnesses.
The walls climbed are typically less than 5m high although there can be exceptions known as ‘highballs’.
To stop a climber from being injured during a fall climbers will use crash matts and employ spotting techniques to ensure a climber lands on the crash mat.
Bouldering is often very physically demanding as climbs are very short, so it can require high levels of technique, strength and power.
What Is Sport Climbing?
Sport climbing is a popular form of free climbing that typically involves scaling an artificial wall, quarry or natural cliff. It can be done on indoor or outdoor walls with bolted routes.
Sport climbing involves a climber ‘leading’ a route. Which means they tie into the rope at the bottom of the crag and then clip into bolts as they ascend the wall, the bolts are not used to assist the climber's ascent, they are simply there to arrest a fall.
Sport climbing usually focuses on physical performance and so is generally done on short and intense rock climbs.
Climbing In And Near Cardiff
Cardiff is home to some of the UK's best climbing walls and cliffs, with options for all levels.
If you're a beginner climber, there are plenty of easy routes available to help get your feet off the ground. Whatever your skill level, there is no shortage of challenging walls and crags near Cardiff.
Whether you're looking to conquer a new challenge or take on some of the iconic climbing locations, there is something for everyone.
Top Climbing Venues In Cardiff From Indoors To Outdoors
Witches Point And Ogmore
Witches Point is located on Dunraven bay, it offers a vast amount of sport climbing for all abilities.
The setting is breathtaking as you can climb almost right off the beach, on a warm summer's day it is great cooling off in the sea after a hard climbing session.
Ogmore is one of the more serious traditional climbing areas near Cardiff and offers a vast array of quite adventurous trad routes. It also offers a large amount of Bouldering.
When climbing at both Witches Point and Ogmore you must be very aware of tides as many climbers have been caught out by incoming tides.
The area around Dinas Rock is a great spot for climbers of all abilities from total beginners to climbers pushing their limits, Dinas Rock offers both quarried routes and natural routes on carboniferous limestone.
Sport climbing routes as well as bouldering routes are on offer and the setting is truly beautiful. When taking a break in between your climbing projects why not take a stroll down one of the many footpaths and catch a glimpse of the beautiful waterfalls.
South Wales Sandstone Quarries
The collection of sandstone quarries near Cardiff are brilliant outdoor venues for mainly sport climbing however they also offer Bouldering and Traditional climbing routes.
With many locations and routes to choose from there's something for everyone. Some of our favourite locations include the technical slabs of navigation quarry and the finger searing routes located at the gap.
This award-winning indoor wall is perfect for those just starting out or wanting to improve their skills.
With a range of overhangs and walls, it’s a great place to hone your technique.
This climbing centre has some of the tallest indoor walls in south wales featuring striking overhangs and roof climbing in addition to textured walls and technical slabs, an auto belay and over 120 routes that are regularly refreshed.
Located in Freemans Parc in Cardiff, this indoor climbing centre caters to climbers of all abilities.
For those new to climbing they also offer socials to share tips and advice from fellow climbers.
Preparing For The Climb - Necessary Equipment, Safety Guidelines
Before embarking on your climbing adventure, it is important to ensure you have all the necessary safety equipment and clothing.
A good pair of climbing shoes, a helmet, a harness, and belay device are all essential items for indoor and outdoor climbing. It’s also important to remember that walls may have different rules and regulations in place so be sure to check with the venue before beginning your climb.
In addition to the necessary equipment, there are some important safety guidelines that should always be followed when wall climbing. Always double check any knots, harnesses and belay set ups. Make sure you understand how to belay correctly, as this is essential for keeping you and your partner safe.
These are just the very broad basics for starting out and climbing indoors. you should seek proper tuition from a qualified instructor to learn any climbing skill, especially more advanced skills associated with outdoor sport climbing and traditional climbing.
Tips For Beginners To Build Confidence On The Wall
Rock climbing can seem daunting, but with the right knowledge and preparation you'll be able to conquer any wall. Some tips for beginners include:
Start On An Easier Route
Don’t push yourself too hard. Take your time and choose a route that suits your skill level. In time you will learn technique and be able to push onto harder routes.
Be Aware Of Your Body
Try and move efficiently by using your feet effectively on the wall. Learning climbing technique can take time and is best learnt by just getting on the wall and seeing how your body moves. You will quickly learn how movement can be both efficient and inefficient. Watching and getting advice off advanced climbers can help this process.
Most importantly, remember to enjoy yourself! Rock climbing is a great way to challenge yourself and have fun in the process.
Regardless of your experience level, rock climbing in Cardiff has something for everyone. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, head out and explore some of Cardiff’s most iconic walls for a thrilling day out!
Learning the Basics - Knots And Techniques
Once you’ve gathered the necessary equipment, it is important to learn some basic climbing knots and techniques.
The figure of eight knot is a common knot used in climbing and is essential for securing the harness. Other basic knots include the clove hitch, bowline, and overhand knot.
When it comes to techniques, it is important to learn the proper way to belay.
Belaying is a safety technique used by climbers to ensure their partner does not hit the ground. It is critically important to understand how to belay correctly as this will keep you and your partner safe while climbing at the wall.
There are a number of resources available to help teach yourself the basics. Online tutorials, books, and climbing classes are all great options for those looking to learn more about wall climbing.
At Ty Coppi Adventures we teach the basic rope and safety skills on our rock climbing experience and for those more experienced we also offer a learn to lead climb course.
By arming yourself with knowledge and taking the time to practise knots and techniques, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable climbing experience.
Keeping It Fun – Ideas For Making The Most Of Your Climbing Adventures
Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to get creative and find ways to make your climbing adventures even more fun.
Why not try out a few different routes or challenge yourself by attempting harder climbs?
If you book a climbing experience with us we will tailor the experience to your ability and also aim to take you to a venue that is new to you and that will offer challenges and fun routes based on your climbing abilities.
No matter what you choose to do, make sure that safety is your number one priority. Take frequent breaks, warm up beforehand, and bring plenty of water. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy your climb worry free and have a day full of adventure!