Too Old for Climbing? – Start Climbing at Age 30 | 40 | 50+

too old for climbing age 40

Climbing is only for young people… This misconception still exists – even though climbing offers several benefits for people of all ages.  

Can you start climbing at age 30 and 40?

Yes, you can start climbing at age 30 and 40 and still become a pretty good climber. In rock climbing, each route is graded, so you start out easy and progress to more challenging routes. I know of many climbers who started late and were able to improve fast.  

Can you start Climbing in your 50s and 60s?

Yes, you can start climbing at age 50 and 60. Climbing is a great full-body workout, and it does not put much strain on your spine or joints. In climbing, strength, endurance, balance, and coordination are trained – using only your body weight as resistance. Climbing is a great sport also for older people. 

In the following chapters, I will explain why it is possible to start climbing – even at a mature age.

Climbing at an “older” age

Climbing combines, like hardly any other sport, physical and mental fitness. Strength, endurance balance, flexibility, and concentration are challenged and improved through practice. 

However, that doesn’t mean you have to be in top shape to start climbing.

Start Climbing at age 50
At the Indoor Climbing Gym

Different levels of difficulty – Grading

Each climbing route is graded. The grading system includes routes from absolute beginner up to super difficult expert routes.

Climbing at age 30 and 40
Different degrees of difficulty

Easier climbing routes are angled and have bigger holds, making them accessible for any age and almost any fitness level. If you can climb a ladder, you can go rock climbing. 

As a beginner, you can climb more accessible routes all day long and still get the benefits of a full climbing workout.   

10 Benefits of climbing in old Age

  1. Easy on the joints and spine
  2. Promotes strength, technique, concentration Balance, and flexibility
  3. Steady building of muscles
  4. Full Body Workout
  5. Travel the world if you want (Climbing sport all over the world)
  6. Social activity and climbing community
  7. Gain confidence (because of the typically fast improvements)
  8. Lots of variety (infinite choice of different routes)
  9. Independent on Weather and Season – (Outdoor and Indoor climbing)
  10. Achieving Goals (feeling of achievement, increases the quality of life)

Climbing and Age – Benefits on the body

  • Climbing is a full-body workout.
    Did I mention that climbing is fun – it is nothing like training in the gym. You climb and enjoy – the strengthening of your body happens as a positive side effect. 
  • You train strength and endurance. 
  • Climbing is easy on the joints:
    There are no hard impacts on knees and hips (compared to tennis, running) because you pull yourself up using only your body weight. 
  • Climbing builds muscles and supports a good posture – even at age 50 plus.
start climbing at age 50

Climbing keeps you healthy and prevents the following issues

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Heart attack
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer
  • Obesity, overweight
  • Sarcopenia (Muscle Loss Due to Ageing)

Climbing – Mental Health Benefits

We all know that physical activity (of any kind) helps us to stay centered and positive. Numerous studies show that rock climbing (and bouldering) are an effective antidote against depression and other mental health issues. 

  • Climbing can regulate emotional disorders such as bipolar disorder. (read the study)
  • Bouldering can treat symptoms of depression (read study)
  • Sport climbing help combat anxiety and improve self-confidence (read study)

Why is rock climbing so effective?

Physical activity
In climbing is a whole-body workout; you train strength and endurance. 

Mental activity, concentration, and focus
When climbing 10 m above the ground, an insane level of attention and focus kicks in. It is easy to enter the so-called “flow state” – a state of total peace and focus. I suppose it has something to do with height and our innate fear of falling. 

After a good climbing session, you will feel exhausted but also happy.  

Benefits of the Outdoors
When climbing outdoors, it feels like all the benefits are multiplied. Many climbing areas are of great beauty and if you spend even just 2-3 hours outdoor climbing it will make you feel better – I guarantee.

Social Health – Climbing as a bonding experience.

start climbing old age

You can not climb alone – and neither can your climbing partners. It is a great way to spend time with friends and family. It is also a great way to get to know people and share a common interest. 

If you go climbing with someone, you put your life in their hands and vice versa. Climbing will connect and bond you deeper and faster than any superficial chit-chat at a social gathering will ever be able to do.

Have a great day of climbing outdoors (or indoors) and spend some time with friends or like-minded people – this will boost your health and improve your overall quality of life. 

How to start climbing at age 30, 40, 50 plus

1. Start in a Climbing Gym

It is the easiest, fastest and safest way to learn rock climbing. Except you know someone who really knows about climbing and belaying – I recommend you seek professional instruction. 

how to start Climbing
Climbing Gym – the best way to learn

Beginner course

A beginner course will teach you all the basics of climbing and belaying. It is also a great way to get to know some new and like-minded people. 

  • You will learn how to use the rope and belay your climbing partner. 
  • You will practice the correct climbing technique. 

Become a Better Climber / Boulderer

  • Improve your Footwork
  • Improve Positioning
  • Improve overall Technique

25 Tipps to improve Climbing Technique (fast)

Climbing and bouldering Technique 25 tips
Level up your climbing skills

Personal climbing coach
Another option is to hire a personal climbing coach – a great idea if you are two or more people. This way you can learn how to climb with your friends.  

First Step – Top rope climbing

The first thing you will learn is Top Rope Climbing,  the most accessible form of climbing. In Top rope climbing, you are tied into a rope anchored at the top of the route. 

Because of this super save setup, you will be able to climb up the wall without the risk of ever falling. It is ideal for beginners to learn and improve their climbing and belaying skills. 

Sport climbing
Top Rope Climbing

As soon as you have mastered Top rope climbing, you will move on to “Lead-Climbing” For more information on how to start climbing, read “How to Start Rock Climbing – 5 Step Guide

For older people – Climbing or Bouldering?

The short answer is: Climbing.
The older you get, the more you will favor climbing over bouldering. I would say if you are in your mid-40s, you will probably prefer climbing over bouldering. 

Of course, it’s best to try both and see which one you like better. 
But…in general, older people tend more towards climbing while younger people are more attracted to bouldering. Why?

Climbing typically requires more endurance.  
Climbing requires not only brute strength but also a lot of technique and balance. The movements are smooth, elegant, and controlled. The routes are long and require not only strength but also endurance. When properly belayed, even falls have almost no impact on the body. Climbing is therefore ideal for older people.

rock climbing outdoors
Rock Climbing

Bouldering is dynamic and requires more maximum strength.
The routes (called Boulder-problems) are shorter and require lots of maximum power and less endurance. Falling is a big part of bouldering, and even though the landing is cushioned with thick mats, the impact force is considerable. Which naturally older people are not so crazy about.

bouldering outdoors

Therefore bouldering is better suited for people till age 40-50. From then on, most of us will prefer climbing. 

Trad and Multi-pitch climbing 
Trad and multi-pitch climbing are perfect for older people because it requires physical and mental strength.

Additionally, some planning and exploration are necessary, as you often have to build your own route by placing the protection devices in cracks and crevices on the rock.

You certainly need some experience to climb a multi-pitch route – but especially older people enjoy the challenges of this type of climbing. 

Trad and mutlipitch climbing
Multi-pitch climbing

Essential Climbing Gear – For All Ages

For your first climbing attempts, you do not need to buy any gear.
All gear required you can rent at the climbing gym.

What to wear?
All you need is some clothing that is not restrictive and won’t get in the way of you or the rope. Some everyday sportswear will usually do the job just fine – no need for any specialized climbing pants or clothing.

What to wear Climbing / Bouldering?
As long as your movements are not restricted – pretty much everything goes. Click for further information and a couple of real-life examples of what climbers like to wear. 

What to wear bouldering climbing
Tips and Examples

Essential Climbing Gear

  • Climbing in the gym: The average price for all the climbing gear you need is around $400. 
  • Rock climbing outdoors: the essential equipment will cost around $550 – this includes an additional set of quickdraws (12 pieces) which cost around $150. 
Climbing essential gear
Essential gear
Essential Gym Climbing Gear:
Climbing shoes$  80
Climbing harness$  60  
Climbing rope $170
Belay device + Karabiner$  60
Chalk + Chalk bag$  30
Total Cost for the Gym= $ 400 
Additional Cost (Outdoor)
12 Quickdraws$ 150
Total cost – sport climbing= $ 550 

Climbing shoes

Climbing shoes are the first piece of equipment you will want to buy.
Rental shoes are what one might expect of rental shoes – typically worn ut and sweaty. Fine for the first few days of climbing – but after that, save some money on the rental and get your own climbing shoes. 

Climbing shoe test Scarpa3

I recommend you go with a tight but comfortable beginner model. For more my specific recommendations, check out our latest review: 

We Tested Rock Climbing Shoes.

Take a look at the 9 Best climbing shoes.

  • Beginner
  • Advanced
  • Expert
Best climbing shoes Review

Climbing harness

Usually, the second piece of gear – every climber needs a climbing harness. 

A good climbing harness is:

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Durable

We tested 14 climbing harnesses – take a look at the 6 Best Climbing Harnesses.

Best Rock Climbing Harness
Climbing Harness – Top 6

Climbing rope

Another essential part of the climbing gear. 

The Top 5 Climbing Ropes

  • Super save and durable
  • Soft catch
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Best bang for the buck
Best Climbing Ropes

Belay device and Carabiner

I recommend so-called “Assisted breaking Devices”. These belay devices add an extra layer of security over a tube-style device and are the gold standard for sport climbing. 

Belay device climbing grigri
GriGri – Bely Device

My personal favorite is the Petzl – GriGri; it is more expensive though and costs around $100.

For beginners, I recommend something like the Black diamond ATC Pilot or the Mammut Smart. These kinds of devices cost around $45. 

ATC Pilot – Belay Device

How to prevent injuries

The prerequisite for safe climbing is a flawless belay technique. Any mistake can lead to fatal injuries and even death. Therefore, it is the top priority for any beginner of any age to learn and master belaying skills. 

Once you have learned the proper belay technique and rope management, climbing is not dangerous in terms of injuries. 

Provided your belayer knows what he/she is doing, falling is not dangerous at all. The entire belay system is set up to give a soft and safe catch for the climber. 

Some common climbing injuries are merely minor injuries like bruises and abrasions.

falling practic lead climbing
When belayed correctly – falling is not dangerous

Tendons and ligaments
In most cases, tendonitis and torn ligaments are the results of overuse, so you should be aware of your limits. The ligaments of fingers and shoulders can be particularly affected – if you feel any pain whatsoever, it’s best to stop climbing and give your body some rest. 

It goes without saying that a proper warm-up is mandatory and will save you from most of the possible injuries mentioned above.