The best and relatively safest place to start is indoors. We recommend that you visit your local indoor climbing gym, most of which offer training courses. A few indoor lessons will teach you the basic climbing movements and skills which will provide you with a good starting point for your adventures outdoors on real rock.
The next step is to do a couple of outdoor climbing courses, in particular to learn and understand the safety issues involved. These are considerably different to those that you encounter in the gym.
You'll often find outdoor courses advertised in outdoor equipment shops. There is a cluster of these on Kent Street in the city (on the block between Bathurst and Druitt Streets, close to Town Hall). Some have branches in suburbs such as Chatswood, Parramatta and Ryde. If you can't see courses advertised, ask the staff. The outdoor businesses on the main street in Katoomba run courses throughout the year. The indoor gyms also occasionally run outdoor courses.
Here are some of the guiding companies that run courses.
Once you have done a few courses and got some basic climbing equipment (see question below) you should consider joining a climbing club such as the SRC. You can come along at any time to our free monthly meetings and get to meet and talk to the members. SRC members regularly visit the indoor gyms - we do this not only to keep climbing fit but also for the fun environment and social contact with other climbers. Outdoor climbing days and weekends for members are organised by individual members and registered with the club's Trip Convenor.
Once you become a regular attendee of monthly meetings and gym evenings and have become a familiar face - you'll soon find yourself out climbing most weekends along with the rest of the SRC.
When you are doing a climbing course the organisers will provide you with any necessary equipment. Indoor climbing gyms will also rent shoes and harnesses to you for use in their gym. Once you decide to get serious and start climbing properly then you need to consider what to buy and when to buy it.
Even if you are only going to climb regularly indoors, as many people choose to do, it soon becomes worth your while buying a comfortably fitting harness and a pair of climbing shoes (that haven't been on some else's smelly feet!). Climbing shoes and a harness will each cost you from A$150 upwards. Outdoor climbing involves yet more purchases to get into just the basic level of climbing (i.e. seconding a leader up a climb, or top roping).
Visit your local outdoor equipment shop and speak to them about the climbing equipment you'll need - be prepared to spend several hundred dollars to get into the basic level of climbing and over a thousand dollars if you want to get into traditional ("trad") lead climbing where you place removable protection devices as you climb.
Outdoor equipment shops:
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