Rocking Out in SB

Imagine you are hundreds of feet off the ground, clinging onto sheer rock surface with nothing but a rope keeping you from plummeting to the ground. Or imagine climbing with nothing but the strength in your fingers and toes digging into the crevices of the towering cliff holding you up. The adrenaline rush is like nothing else in the world – and the sense of empowerment cannot be topped, unless of course, you make it to the top of a higher, tougher, rougher peak.


This scene of course is rock-climbing, and even though we Santa Barbarians don’t have Half Dome in our back yard, the hills and mountains we face to the north are an excellent substitute. Santa Barbara is full of rock-climbing opportunities waiting to push you to your limit and whip you into shape.

The sport oLa Sportiva Cliff Rock Shoef rock-climbing is like none other. It attracts the thrill-seeking rugged type that can’t be satisfied by just scoring a touchdown or hitting the game-winning homerun on land. Adrenaline-seeking rock climbers are prepared to harness themselves in, wear special shoes, (like La Sportiva Cliff Rock Shoe ) and climb up a mountain just to throw them self back down, and trust their lives to a mere piece of rope. Not to mention, rock climbers need to be prepared for some of the most physically and mentally challenging workouts out there. Training your muscles to hold you up, and teaching your mind to push you forward and upward, even when you feel like your only option is giving up, are only two of the difficulties that rock-climbers endure.

If you’ve ever daydreamed about ‘rocking’ six pack abs hard as ‘rock,’ and tight, sculpted quads, rock climbing just might be your sport. Robert Spedding, a climbing staff member of the Adventure Climbing Center at the UCSB Recreation Center explains that rock climbing is great exercise, especially for your core. “It is a straight core workout. You can absolutely perfect your core by rock climbing,” Spedding says. Climbing may not get you the cardio benefits that running or swimming would, but it is a great core strengthening and toning workout that will burn major calories. A 140 pound woman can burn up to 700 calories an hour, and a 190 pound man can burn up to 974 calories and hour by climbing and pushing themselves to the top. This is a great way to sculpt those sexy muscles.

Rock climbing can exercise almost every muscle group, and even many muscles you didn’t even know were there. Did you know you can work the muscles in your fingers? That’s right, rock climbing is one of the best ways to strengthen and tone all five fingers. Strong fingers become extremely important when you’re hanging 200 feet off the ground! However, if your butt or thighs happen to more so be your problem area, rock climbing will definitely help develop strong and lean lower body muscles as well, and help you look amazing in your bathing suit.


To prepare your body for climbing, you want to work on strengthening your quadriceps, claves, forearms and biceps, as well as improving your flexibility. Squats and lunges are great ways to work your legs, and bicep curls with barbells and wrist curls will get your arms ready for a big climb. Spedding explains that your forearms are the key to a great climb, so preparing those muscles are essential. However, be prepared to have a rough time getting out of bed the morning after your first climbing session! The muscles worked during rock climbing are so diverse and wide-spread that no matter how many squats you do, you cannot be completely prepared. To avoid extreme muscle soreness and to alleviate the pain of tight muscles the next day, make sure to include stretching along with muscle training when you prepare for a climb. Your body will surely thank you the next morning for taking the time to stretch before and after your climb.

So will your thrill seeking alter ego. Spedding encourages everyone to try climbing and to not be afraid of it. “You have to have fun with it,” he says. “You shouldn’t compare yourself to anyone else,” he stressed. Instead focus on pushing yourself beyond your own limits.

If the great outdoors is not exactly your thing, Santa Barbara offers many other options to get your rock-climbing fix. Indoor rock walls are hidden in many buildings all over the community and offer the same thrill, work out, and fun as outdoor rock-climbing, but without all the dirt, dust, and sun. It can also alleviate some of the fear, knowing that trained professionals are watching your every move and motivating you to make it to the top.

Through the 2005 Recreation Center addition at UCSB, a 30-foot, indoor state-of-the-art climbing facility is available for free to University students and to the general public for a fee of ten dollars. Climbing equipment can be rented at the facility. Many private and semi-private classes in climbing practices from belaying to self-rescue are offered through the Recreation Center for University students. Other walls and climbing instruction are available at the Santa Barbara Athletic Club and Santa Barbara Adventure Club, which offer climbing lessons for beginners and intermediate climbers.

You may want to get in a few practice sessions with a professional at one of the indoor climbing walls before you tackle the real-deal rock surfaces outside. But if you are up for an adventure-packed challenge, all you have to do is head out the door. Santa Barbara is a climber’s paradise as it offers some of California’s best natural climbing spots with unbeatable ocean views. Up past the Mission and off of Highway 154 are some of the most popular rock climbing spots in town. Gibraltar Rock, Cathedral Peak, Lizards Mouth, and The Brickyard are some of the best places to rock climb in Santa Barbara. Gibraltar is definitely an adventure, as the main rock face plunges over 150 feet into Rattlesnake Canyon. To get there, take Los Olivos past the Santa Barbara Mission to Mountain Drive, and then take the first right after the fork. The Brickyard is a good place to climb, relax and get away from the crowds. From Highway 154, take West Camino Cielo for 3.4 miles and park. The boulders are about a five-minute walk downhill on the trail towards the ocean. Lizards Mouth is right past The Brickyard and is one of the most well known climbing spots in Santa Barbara as it also a grat hang out spot.

Petzl Meteor III Helmet Rock climbing is a great way to test your strength and improve your physical abilities, but does need to be taken seriously. Before heading out, especially if you are going for the outdoor real-deal, make sure you have appropriate training and gear. A fun day in the sun may not turn out as planned if you don’t. Once properly fitted for gear and DMM Eclipse Carabinerstrained, the sky is the limit. Santa Barbara is full of climbing spots and they are awaiting your arrival. With the warm sun shining down on you and the view of the Pacific pressing you on you won’t be able to wait to yell, “I made it to the top! “

Visit or to get more information on climbing lessons or how to prepare for your first climb

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