Climbing is an exciting sport that allows you to test your skills against some of the most challenging environments available. Proper equipment and training are important to ensure the safety of the climber, but the work involved is often well worth the reward.
The best way to learn climbing is with an experienced guide. This can either be in one of the extensive indoor facilities across the country or on guided outdoor trips. Be sure to be honest about your ability level, for your safety and the safety of your fellow climbers. Getting in with a local climbing group can be a great way to break into the sport and benefit from other climbers' experience.
Some indoor facilities and guided tours will provide equipment you can use, but if you intend to buy your own, there are a few essentials. The first and most obvious is a rope. It should be sturdy, 11mm cord with about 200 ft of length to accommodate longer runs. You will also need anywhere from 12 to 25 quickdraws, pieces of webbing attached to carbiners that will anchor you to your rope. A good belay device, preferably a self-locking one is another essential. A lightweight harness will protect you and should have at least four gear loops to hold your quickdraws. A daisy chain, webbing with a series of loops that allow you to clip on, is also a good piece of safety equipment, although it is not strictly necessary. However, you will definitely need a quality pair of climbing shoes. A chalk bag may also be a good idea, to dry sweaty palms before you grab onto a surface.
Climbing is a challenging and sometimes dangerous sport. That being said, it is very rewarding. Make sure you have solid equipment and get training from a professional before trying anything on your own.