If you’re not having fun when you’re rock climbing then you’re doing it wrong. That being said, we’re no strangers to the fact that the same old gym routes week after week can lose their allure and the need to spice up your gym session becomes more and more necessary. Rather than wait around for better weather to go outside or for your gym’s setter to grace you with some new routes, adding some rock climbing games into your session is a great way to reinject the fun into climbing! We have compiled a list of the best rock climbing games ranging in experience needed with great games for beginner boulders to expert sport climbers.
Our Absolute Favorite Rock Climbing Games to Play
Add-on is a classic indoor rock climbing game that we would be remiss to not mention. You need at least two people to get started but there is no limit on how many can participate. Add-on is very malleable to the experience level of the participants so it is one of the best climbing games for beginner and expert climbers alike.
How to Play: Start by picking a wall and a starting hold for the game to start. The starting hold is usually a two-handed hold with your feet off the ground. Add-on works best on bouldering walls because of the on and off the wall nature of the game. The first player begins at the decided starting hold, makes one move and then comes off the wall. The next player starts in the same place makes the first move the first player came up with and then adds a move of their own. Keep going until you finish the route or you cannot progress any further.
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Just like when we were all little kids except more rock climbing! Start by picking a bouldering wall or sport climbing route and gathering at least three people to play. If you are playing on a sport climbing wall you need enough people to belay and climb or have sufficient auto-belays. The childhood classic is perfect for your fun climbing games fix.
How to Play: It’s simple! The people on the wall do whatever the designated Simon says to do as long as they say “Simon says” before the action. The actions can range from what type of hold to grab next or stay true to the classic Simon says actions like patting your head all while the players are trying to finish their routes. If a player does an action without “Simon says” being said first then they are out!
Eliminator is similar to add-on but in the opposite direction. Rather than adding moves to the route, you take them away as you go. You can play this game by yourself or with friends! This game is great for improving your route finding skills needed for onsighting.
How to Play: Climbers start by picking a route within their ability level, the longer the route the better the gameplay. Player one climbs the route once through and then chooses one hold to eliminate. The next player must then climb the route without using the hold that was eliminated. Once they are finished they then choose a hold to eliminate. This continues until either player can no longer finish the route or you run out of holds.
Any opportunity to be competitive with your friends breeds fun. Drag Race is our favorite indoor climbing game for climbers with a need for speed. This game helps improve climbers’ speed and strategy all while having fun with friends.
How to Play: Decide first if you want to boulder or top rope. If you decide you want to top rope, look for walls with auto belays as the elimination of switching belays will help keep up the speed of the game. After choosing what style of climbing you want to do, set a timer for around 15 -30 minutes. Bouldering needs less time than sport climbing because it eliminates the time needed for switching belays. The object now is to climb and top out on as many routes as possible in the allotted time. The climber with the most routes finished wins.
Around the World
This is one of our best climbing games for a day you are alone and bored while bouldering and want to make your solo session fun, even though you can also play this on routes with friends. Around the World is also a great warm-up tool to use when gym climbing to make sure your muscles are warmed up for your more difficult projects.
How to Play: Start by finding the lowest graded route your gym has, like a V0, and climb every route of that grade. Then move up a grade and do the same thing. Keep going until you feel sufficiently warmed up or completely exhausted. This game is a great opportunity to try new routes you may not normally climb and get a lot of variety in your session.
Test the limits of your trust with this bouldering game designed for teamwork. Tag team is our favorite and most hilarious game that focuses on you and your partners’ communication and strategy to get you up the wall all while holding hands.
How to Play: Find a partner and a wall with enough space for both of you. Decide on a route or at the very least a starting hold. Then while holding hands you and your partner must make your way up the wall. If you fall off or break the handhold you lose!
The Best Rock Climbing Games to Improve Your Bouldering
Back to the style of bringing childhood classics into the rock gym, twister is an excellent game to bring to the rock wall. Though a seemingly silly game choice we find that combining difficult moves with awkward proximity to your friends makes twister an awesome rock climbing game to increase stamina and strength!
How to Play: A twister spinner from the original game is ideal but if you do not have one you can either make one or use online versions, like this one: Bouldering Twister Spinner. The game works just like it did when you were a kid, one person is the caller who yells out colors and body parts and the people who are on the wall have to move that limb to a hold of that color. The last climber left on the wall is the winner!
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Training yourself to be as quiet as possible on the bouldering wall in a world full of gym grunters and moaners can be a difficult task, but don’t worry we believe in you! Silent feet is one of the best rock climbing games to challenge your gym grunting ways!
How to play: You need at least two players to get started. One person stays on the mat blindfolded and is armed with soft some soft things to throw, like hacky sacks or coiled prussicks. The climber must then try and climb past their blindfolded buddy without being detected. If the blindfolded player thinks they know where their friend is they throw their hacky sacks in that direction. If the climber is hit they are out and the players switch roles.
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Tag is a great bouldering game because it forces players to traverse across the wall building strength while also boosting your problem-solving skills as you try and escape your buddies. Beginners and experts alike can enjoy the mayhem and pure fun that is bouldering tag.
How to Play: Gather three or more people, choose a wall and begin traversing. Select one climber to start as “it”, their job is to tag any other players while staying on the wall. The only important rules are that you can not tag someone who was it last and if you fall off the wall then you are automatically it. Mayhem ensues.
Golf on a bouldering wall takes the general system of scoring from regular golf and applies it to bouldering routes. This is one of the bouldering games that is geared a bit more towards the intermediate climber but can still be attempted by the beginner. Golf forces climbers to be creative with their moves and improvise.
How to Play: To play golf you can play by yourself or with friends. Pick a route and count how many holds it contains. Each hold counts as a stroke and just like in golf you want the lowest score possible. If your route has 12 holds then it is a par 12, and the idea is to try and climb it using as few of the holds as possible to achieve a low score.
Trust in your partner is key when playing pointer. Similar to add-on, pointer begins with no route in mind and is made up on the go. Beginner boulderers can learn a lot about communication in climbing and trusting your climbing partners as well as practice dead-pointing and improving their balance from playing pointer.
How to Play: To begin you have one person on the wall and the other on the mat. The climber waits for their partner on the mat to call out the next hold. This keeps the route challenging and dynamic. Listening to your partner is key in this game and can make for some very fun and creative routes.
The Best Rock Climbing Games to Improve Your Sport Climbing
Similar to Sprint in its need for speed, Route Racing focuses on how quickly you and your friends can get up a route. We enjoy the quick climbing aspect of this rock climbing game for its ability to improve your ability to problem solve on the fly and boosts stamina for longer routes.
How to play: Pick a route within you and your friends’ ability. Time each person’s ascent up the route and whoever can climb the route the fastest wins!
We know it doesn’t sound fun but making a game out of falling is a great way to get more comfortable with taking falls on climbs. You’re going to fall eventually, might as well make a game out of it!
How to Play: Choose a route that you and your belayer are pretty comfortable with. Climb up the route normally, and whenever the belayer yells “fall” you just let go right there. Not a whole lot to this game but it is a valuable tool to use in making something that can seem scary more fun and controlled.
One Arm or Leg
Sure you can climb that route, but can you climb it with only one arm? One Arm takes a route you know decently well and makes it instantly more difficult by forcing you to climb it in a completely new way, without one of your limbs. This is one of our best rock climbing games for increasing your creative thinking when route finding as well as pushes you to move your body more dynamically than usual.
How to Play: Pick a route you and your partner know decently well and can climb easily. Decide which arm or leg you want to climb without and send it. Whoever can get the highest without that limb wins!
Pretty straightforward, high point is the game in which you compete with your climbing partner for points. This game can be played for your whole session and add a fun element to your regular climbing regime. High point is a great wall climbing game.
How to Play: Each route you climb earns you points based on its level of difficulty. A 5.9 is 9 points, 5.10 is 10 points and so on. You can lose points by falling or having to ask your partner to take so you can rest. At the end of the session, you count up all your points and see who won!
The Best Rock Climbing Games For Building Endurance and Conditioning
Boost your trust in your climbing partners and your spatial awareness by trying your favorite routes blind. Feeling your way across a wall rather than relying on sight to help you up the wall increases your touch awareness and emphasizes your body control to get to the top.
How to Play: Decide on a wall for your blindfolded climber to attempt, this can be top-roped or on the bouldering wall. The goal is to see who can climb the farthest without falling off the wall.
Creating ridiculous dyno moves and seeing if you and your buddies can actually land it is one of the best and most fun rock climbing games you can play while bouldering. A dyno is any move that requires the climber to let go of the wall and jump to their next hold. Dynoing is a necessary skill to learn for all types of climbing and it’s super fun!
How to Play: Start with a two-handed hold and pick a hold that is out of reach enough that you have to dyno to it. The dyno can be horizontal, vertical, or off vertical. The more difficult the dyno, the more fun the game becomes.
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Arm strength is a key component to becoming a better climber. It isn’t everything but it definitely helps. To campus something in climbing is to do the route without using your feet. Campusing is one of the best rock climbing games to improve your arm strength and endurance.
How to play: Pick a route that you and your climbing partners know pretty well and can do with relative ease. Whoever can get the farthest without falling or using their feet wins!
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Down climbing a route can be more difficult than climbing it more often than not but it can be a very useful tool for improving your endurance and stamina. Not to mention it is just a really useful skill to have in case you ever need to down climb to safety. Lemon/lime is one of the best rock climbing games to really hone this skill.
How to Play: You need only one person to play this game, but can easily add more if you wish! To play lemon begin by climbing up two holds from the start of the route and then back down to the beginning. Continue this up and down the route increasing how far you get by two holds each time until you have climbed to the top and back down. Similarly the lime half of this game follows the move two holds then back two holds structure but you begin at the top of the route. To finish lime you should have followed the forward and back structure until you have been down and up the route fully.
There is a lot of jargon in climbing that refers to different moves and hold styles the climber can use to move up or stay on the wall. Lucky draw is a fun way to practice and integrate different holds and moves into your gym session while also increasing your stamina.
How to Play: Write down about ten different moves (things like heel-hook, gaston, toe hook, drop knee, lay-back, edging, and so on. For a full list of terms like these that you can use for the game see: Climbing Techniques and Moves) and put them in a hat. Pick three-four and build a route or a problem using all the moves you chose.
Footwork in climbing can be just as important as what you do with your arms. This may be more for the intermediate and expert climber to focus on their footwork but it can still be a fun indoor rock climbing game that beginners can try to better their footwork.
How to Play: Pick a wall that you can traverse horizontally across. The idea is to traverse the wall without using your hands, forcing you to focus on your footwork and balance. The first one to fall off loses.
When and Why You Should Play Rock Climbing Games
Rock climbing games are perfect for rainy day gym sessions, winter distractions, and just plain and simple fun with friends. It is always important to be sure though that whatever game you choose to play is still respectful to the other climbers trying to enjoy their gym time too, as well as making sure that you are being respectful of the gym’s staff rules. It’s all fun and games until you get kicked out of the gym, and nobody wants that.
Summary of the Best Rock Climbing Games to Play
Indoor rock climbing games can be an excellent way to make working on technique and form a fun part of you and your friends climbing sessions. There are games for any part of climbing you are trying to focus on and better. We hope that you enjoy our recommended best rock climbing games as much as we do. Happy climbing!
Did you enjoy this post? Then you may also like our post on advanced bouldering tips and techniques here.