Rock climbing and bouldering are typically not the first things that pop into someone’s head when they hear the word “date”. This is unfortunate because climbing can be an excellent date for some people. For others, it could end up being one of the worst date activities of their life.
In general, rock climbing and bouldering are excellent dates for people who enjoy being active and having a laugh. Rock climbing is not a good date for germaphobes, people deathly afraid of heights, or someone who is injured. Being lighthearted and supportive will ensure your climbing date goes well.
As mentioned above, climbing dates have the potential to be amazing but can also be disasters. This article gives 8 reasons why rock climbing and bouldering are excellent date ideas, 6 potential drawbacks of climbing dates that you should be aware of, and 9 helpful tips to make your date be as good as possible.
8 Reasons Why Rock Climbing and Bouldering Are Good Dates
As a climber who has gone on multiple successful climbing dates myself, I have to admit that my viewpoint on this may be a bit biased. That said, there are certain undeniable factors that make climbing dates awesome. Eight of these factors are detailed below.
1. Going Climbing Is Unique And Memorable
Everyone has gone on generic dates to grab a drink, sip on some coffee, grab dinner, or go to the movies. While these are tried and true, there is nothing really special about them. They are safe choices that have a high probability of being a somewhat fun but ultimately a very mediocre date.
Rock climbing with your date is a great way to get out of these dating norms and do something a bit more unique. Not everyone has been rock climbing before and trying it out on a date will be a very memorable first experience. Climbing dates are a good way to stand out from the crowd.
If you have never been climbing before, I recommend checking out my article that details what you can expect your first climbing gym experience will be like.
2. You Automatically Will Have Something To Talk About
If the relationship is still somewhat new, you may not know exactly what you will be talking about on your date. Sometimes, the conversation just doesn’t feel all that natural and it can come off as more of a job interview than anything (this is painfully obvious on first dates).
Climbing on a date provides you both with something to talk about from the get go. You both will be trying the problems/routes and will likely have your fair share of comments on them. Also, if you both are trying the same route/problem you may want to bounce ideas off each other to see if you can figure it out together. Climbing problems/routes are kind of like large puzzles that require your body to solve.
3. Climbing Is A Very Fun Activity
Rock climbing and bouldering are awesome exercises and can be fantastic workouts if you want them to be. (I don’t suggest taking it too seriously and trying to get an actual workout in while on your climbing date as that may come off as weird depending on the situation).
To quote Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t have bad rock climbing dates, they just don’t… okay so I may have changed the last sentence a little bit but the point still stands. Being active and getting your blood pumping a little bit generally gives people energy and puts them in a better mood.
Better moods = better dates.
4. Climbing Gyms and Crags Are Friendly Social Atmospheres
Climbers are typically a very welcoming and friendly crowd. Of course there are the exceptions to this rule but for the most part everyone is there to have a good time. This allows you to feel comfortable talking to and getting to know your date and not like you are in a library with everyone eavesdropping on your conversation. Plus, if you are the outgoing type, it is super easy to talk to other climbers there and make yourself more comfortable.
It is common for bouldering to be a more social experience than top rope or sport climbing. This is because bouldering typically has everyone kind of hanging out in the same area when they are resting in between attempts. Top rope and sport climbing on the other hand require one climber to climb the wall and be far off the ground. (It’s hard to have a casual conversation when you are holding onto the wall 20 feet above your partner).
5. You Will Get An Idea Of Your Date’s Natural Personality
It is hard to get a read on what someone is normally like just from a date or two, especially if you are in the interview/getting to know you stage. Typically each person is trying to put their best foot forward and show the best sides of them at all times. Climbing together can be a good way to break down some of these walls and really give you a chance to get to know their natural personality.
If your date is nervous and timid to start climbing then they may tend to be a bit more reserved in their everyday life and may not be used to doing such physical activities. On the other hand, if your date is excited, loud, and competitive then you can expect them to be a little more intense and outgoing in their daily life.
Keep in mind that climbing should not be some test that you are putting your date through to see how they really are. It is a fun experience that will allow you to break down some of those getting to know you walls.
6. Climbing Dates Typically Have Less Awkward Pauses
We have all gone on dates with too many awkward pauses to count. Even some of the really good dates have a few awkward pauses sprinkled in. It is just the nature of the game. Climbing provides you and your date with natural breaks in the conversation when either of you start your next go on the wall. This will give you time to process what is going on and allow you to think about what you want to talk about next.
In addition to this, if you ever feel like you don’t have a good response to something, you can give yourself a moment and go climb the wall to prevent an awkward pause from happening. Keep in mind that awkward pauses are likely to happen at some point or another so if one does happen don’t be too worried about it. You don’t have to be dodging them like the plague.
7. You Can Show Off Your Fitness A Bit Without It Being Weird
Climbing is a physical activity and as such it can highlight your fitness level to your date in a natural way. For you guys outs there, climbing hard routes shows your date that you are strong and capable. For you girls, climbing will show your date your flexibility. Actively showing off in front of your date is rarely a great idea, climbing gives you an opportunity to showcase your physical abilities and assets without having to do that.
In addition to this, you will likely be wearing some sort of athletic/athleisure type of clothing. If you want to take this opportunity to wear something a little bit more revealing or form fitting then go right ahead. Keep in mind that it is a family friendly atmosphere and you don’t want to show up naked. T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, and leggings are popular to see in climbing gyms.
8. Climbing Gyms Are Relatively Inexpensive
While climbing isn’t the cheapest date option by any means, it certainly is not the most expensive. It will likely be cheaper than the classic dinner and a movie but more expensive then just going to grab a coffee. If you’re curious as to how much it actually costs, check out my article that details the complete list of expenses associated with going to an indoor climbing gym.
6 Drawbacks Of Rock Climbing and Bouldering Dates
Like everything else in the world, climbing dates are not perfect. There are a few things that you need to be aware of that some people classify as “drawbacks” to climbing dates. Six of these are discussed further below.
1. Climbing Will Likely Get You Sweaty and Dirty
As mentioned above, climbing is a great exercise. Even just going up and down the wall a few times can get you a little sweaty (especially if you are not used to it). On top of this, climbing gyms will typically have chalk everywhere. Chalk gets on literally everything and you should expect for it to get on you as well.
Most climbing gyms will have a bathroom/locker room area that you will be able to wash off and change into a different pair of clothes if you have them with you. If you are climbing outside then you can expect to get a little bit more dirty as you will be in close contact with the nature around you.
2. You and Your Date Will Fall
This isn’t a matter of if you will fall but rather when you will fall. Everyone who goes climbing will eventually lose hold of the wall/rock and fall. If you are on the climbing wall, then you will either be caught by the auto belay machine (top roping indoors) or your partner belaying you. If you are bouldering then you will be falling onto the very soft padded floor (indoors) or the crash pad (outdoors) below you.
It is good not to take this too seriously and laugh about it. Just be sure that when you are falling you are doing it safely. If you have already lost your grip and began falling, do not try to reach out and grab anything to try and stop your fall, this is where injuries can happen. Trust the gear and your partner to catch you (on the climbing wall) or try to focus on the landing area and landing soft (bouldering).
3. Climbing Will Be Rough On Your Hands
Grabbing onto all of the climbing holds will eventually start to wear down your hands. They may become tender and red depending on how much climbing you are doing. This is because your hands are not used to all of the climbing and do not have the necessary callouses built up yet. This will not be a major issue if you are just doing a standard climbing session for your date (45 minutes to an hour).
But if you two end up spending a lot of time climbing, you likely will feel your hands starting to get “raw”. You may even catch a “flapper” (peeled off piece of skin) if you climb for long enough. If this happens then I suggest you let your date know, wash it out, put a bandaid on it, and move onto the next part of the date if there is one.
4. You May Be Sore The Next Day
Climbing works a lot of muscles that the average person does not use heavily in their everyday life. Notably, your forearms will likely get tired and “pumped” from grabbing onto the holds. Even people who exercise and workout frequently will likely get sore as their bodies are not used to the climbing movements yet.
While I do not think this is a reason that should stop you from going climbing, it is something to be mindful of. A way to keep the soreness down the next day is to take it a little easier and have ample time for breaks and talking in-between your goes.
5. The Climbing Wall May Be Too High For Someone Scared of Heights
Climbing walls can get to be pretty high depending on the gym. For some people even just being 12 feet off the ground can be scary. If you or your date are deathly afraid of heights, it would probably be better to do an activity closer to the ground. This does not mean you can’t still go climbing.
If the climbing wall is too high, you and your date can opt to boulder instead. Bouldering walls are much shorter than the top rope/sport climbing walls and do not even require a harness to use. Bouldering will still give you a great climbing experience without the fear of heights. Plus, it is typically easier to talk and get to know each other while bouldering anyways.
6. Germaphobes Will Struggle In The Atmosphere
While climbing gyms take some precautions to keep things clean such as spraying the rental climbing shoes between each rental, they are not a spotless setting by any means. Climbers will be using the same holds and equipment as the other sweaty climbers. This may be a bit too much for someone who has a hard time handling germs.
9 Helpful Tips For Going On A Rock Climbing or Bouldering Date
There are a few things you can do to make sure your date goes as well as possible and minimize the “drawbacks” of climbing discussed above. Below are 9 helpful tips for going on rock climbing and bouldering dates.
1. Check With Your Date Beforehand If They Want To Go Climbing
This should be a given but for those of you out there looking to make this a surprise/spontaneous date, then I do not recommend going climbing for that. Some people may have pre-existing injuries or fears that you do not know about. On a less serious note, some people just don’t want to get sweaty and dirty in front of their date (especially in newer relationships). These reasons can prevent your date from climbing and truly enjoying the experience.
In addition to this, because climbing is so physically involved, your date may not have dressed appropriately for it. Having long acrylic nails or wearing a dress are common dress code issues that come up for girls that prevent them from being able to have a good time on a climbing date. For guys, wearing something nice that they wouldn’t want to get dirty/sweated up is also a hindrance.
Being upfront about what you plan to do for your date will be the best approach to making sure everyone has a good time.
2. Make Sure Your Nails Are Short
If you are someone who typically has long nails then you will want to consider addressing this before climbing. While I personally have not had to deal with this, climbing has been known to wreak havoc on long and fake nails. Check out my article that discusses how climbing affects your nails and what you can do to prevent this from being an issue.
3. Pick A Climbing Gym That Has Both Bouldering and Rock Climbing Walls
If you do not know your date all that well yet, going to a gym that offers both bouldering and rock climbing walls will be the best route to go. That way if your date has a fear of heights you can stick to the bouldering wall and still have a good time. If they don’t have a fear of heights, then going to a gym with both will give you more variety and the ability to experience both types of climbing.
When in doubt, picking a bouldering gym will be a safer route to go then picking a climbing gym that does not offer bouldering (this is rare, but there are gyms like that out there).
4. Use Your Legs To Climb The Wall
If you have never been climbing before, you may be surprised at how quickly your forearms will get tired. To help with this, it is best if you focus on using your legs by pushing off of your feet to propel yourself up the wall rather than constantly pulling yourself up with your arms. This will allow you to climb better and for longer.
5. Start Easy And Work Your Way Up
Starting easy will not only allow your bodies to get loose and warmed up, but it will also get you and your date to start feeling more comfortable. This keeps you from getting too tired really early on and will allow you to spend more time together on your climbing date. Going on a climbing date with someone who ends up red in the face, out of breath, and drenched in sweat within 10 minutes of being there doesn’t sound fun for anyone.
6. Keep It Lighthearted And Supportive
Climbing is supposed to be fun and so are dates. Try not to take things too seriously and just have a good time with it. Cheering on your date and being supportive will allow both of you to have a nice time. Being a stickler to the “proper climbing rules” or trying too hard to impress them will end up just making the date a downer.
7. Don’t Force Your Date To Do Something They Aren’t Comfortable With
While this holds true for a lot of dating situations, this is very important when climbing. If your date has a deathly fear of heights, sticking to the bouldering wall is probably the best course of action. Dating can put people under a bit of pressure already, don’t add to their stress by trying to make them do something they really don’t want to do.
8. Have An Idea Of What To Do After Climbing
Because climbing can be a good workout and wear down newer climbers’ hands relatively quickly, climbing dates typically don’t last very long (about an hour on average). If you are looking to spend a few hours together then I recommend having something lined up for after climbing. Whatever that may be is up to you but it is a good idea to be prepared for the date after climbing. I always enjoy going to get ice cream or a smoothie after a climbing session (the cold can feel good on your hands).
9. Have A Change Of Clothes Ready If You Plans Before/After Climbing
This is going off of the previous tip as well. If you or your date are looking to do something in addition to climbing, it will be helpful to bring a change of clothes along. The last thing you want is to be caught sitting in dried up sweaty clothes for a few hours. Bringing some deodorant and cologne/perfume along too won’t hurt.