The sport of rock climbing has many different facets – something that those who are not part of this sport might not realize. If you’re thinking about rock climbing, it’s worth learning as much as you can about rock climbing and types of climbing first.
Just as there are different types of climbing, there are different types of climbers. Some climbers try different types first to help them learn more about which type of climbing they want to follow more seriously. Here is an overview of each of the most common types of rock climbing.
Top Cord Climbing – Top Cord Climbing is the way most people learn to climb. It is the least dangerous and easiest to learn at first. My kids climb the top rope and I’ve seen kids up to three years old start learning. If you can fit on the equipment, you can learn to climb the top rope. This is also the kind of climbing that many pregnant women do for a long time in their pregnancies until they are too far away to climb comfortably. In top rope climbing, the climber is tied to the end of the rope that climbs to an anchorage point at the top and then back down to a vault on the ground that will hold the climber’s fall. The rope is always above the climber, so there is no real “fall”.
Guided Climbing – Once you have learned the basics of safety and the mechanics of climbing, you can move on to guided climbing. This requires more mental commitment than having the top rope on you at all times. You will be tied to your harness with one end of the rope, which you will drag along the climb. The back end of the rope descends to the staff, which feeds it through a safety device. If the leading climber falls, the warrior is there with equipment to help stop the fall and will take most of the force from the fall. However, unlike top-rope climbing, there is a possibility that a real fall will occur.
Bouldering – Bouldering refers to climbing outdoors on rocks or at the base of cliffs. You will only wear climbing shoes and a chalk bag and it is very physically demanding. You don’t climb very high from the ground, so there’s no need for ropes or moorings. Usually, the climber can jump off the bouldering surface without injury. Typically, bouldering is done 10-12 feet off the ground or lower.
Sport Climbing – Sport climbing is growing in popularity and is an excellent physical activity as well as being relatively safe. It’s done using a rope and a leash, but the sport climbs are bolted together so that the leading climber doesn’t have to put on his own protection. Instead, you carry the quick drawings and place them in the eye of the pre-positioned bolts as you climb. Sport climbing is usually (but not always) shorter routes.
Indoor Climbing – Indoor climbing is becoming increasingly popular today. It allows safe and air-conditioned climbing in a structured environment. Most indoor rock climbing facilities have the option of different types of climbing and bouldering. They also often offer rental equipment, classes and structured activities. Indoor climbing is a great way to build the foundations you need for outdoor climbing as well.