Are you an indoor climbing enthusiast looking to take your skills to the great outdoors? The Southampton and Bournemouth area offers a wide range of fantastic outdoor climbing opportunities, with stunning locations like Swanage and Portland right at your doorstep. We have decades of experience climbing the Jurassic coast, and can provide a tailored experience if you have only climbed indoor walls. We have produced a guide to help you make a smooth transition from climbing indoors to experiencing the thrill of outdoor climbing safely and responsibly.

Be Prepared

Depending on which route you choose, outdoor climbing can be more physically demanding than indoor climbing. Focus on building your endurance, and make sure you are comfortable with different climbing techniques. Outdoor climbing is not all about the physical, however. You should develop your mental resilience as outdoor climbing tests your route-finding, decision-making, and self-reliance. Be prepared for the challenges. Check out forums such as UK Climbing to find the best routes, or send us an email and we’d be happy to help out!

Choose the Right Gear

Invest in appropriate outdoor climbing gear, including a helmet, harness, climbing shoes, belay device, and carabiners. There are plenty of online climbing forums where you can ask fellow climbers for advice on the best equipment. Locally, there is also The Project Climbing Centre who offer great advice and would be a good starting point. Don’t forget essentials like a chalk bag, slings, and quickdraws for clipping into bolts.

Gain Basic Outdoor Climbing Skills

At Youngs Adventure Solutions, we provide several courses for different skill levels. If it’s your first time climbing outdoors, we recommend our indoor to outdoor course, which will build on the skills you’ve learnt from indoor walls and apply outdoor-specific techniques, safety protocols, and rope management.

Select Your Climbing Location

The Southampton and Bournemouth areas have some great outdoor climbing spots, not just for different skill levels but also with amazing views. Swanage and Portland are not far to travel and offer plenty of climbing routes. Research these areas and choose routes suitable for your skill level. Take into account access restrictions and seasonal closures. Respect the environment and follow Leave No Trace principles.

Climbing Ethics

Outdoor climbing often involves traditional climbing, which means placing your own protection gear. Learn about local ethics, and always be considerate of the environment and other climbers.

Safety First

Always prioritise safety. Buddy check with your partner, double-check knots, harnesses, and belay setups. Communicate clearly with your partner, and establish a set of hand signals. Wear a helmet to protect against falling rocks and potential head injuries. Don’t feel pressured to try to complete climbs you’re not comfortable with – remember there’s always another day. Make sure you have an Emergency Climbing Plan and have this on you, either printed or on your phone.

Climbing Partners

Climbing with an experienced partner is recommended, especially for your first few outdoor climbs. Develop trust and open communication with your climbing partner. If you go solo, then let someone know where you’ll be climbing and set a time to contact them.

Local Resources

Take advantage of the many local resources available to you before going on a climbing route for the first time. Join local climbing clubs or forums to connect with other climbers, and keep up-to-date with route information and conditions from the climbing community, and get the most up-to-date guide book.

Weather Conditions

The weather is never 100% predictable. Check forecasts before heading out, and have a contingency plan for sudden unexpected changes in weather.

Enjoy the Experience

Make sure to enjoy your time climbing! The areas around the south coast offer some of the most stunning views and unique challenges. Take time to appreciate the experience and the beauty of the outdoors.

Climbing is a lifelong journey. Continue honing your skills, gaining experience, and seeking new challenges.

By following this guide, your transition from indoor to outdoor climbing will be smooth sailing. With proper preparation, safety precautions, and respect for the environment, you can enjoy the thrill of scaling natural rock formations whilst appreciating the stunning landscapes these locations have to offer.

If you are based in the Southampton and Dorset area and looking for training or a guide to take you outdoor climbing, get in touch with us to ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor climbing experience.