you would like to start climbing, please note that every year
loads of beginners, as well as very skilled and experienced climbers,
are killed whilst climbing. Don't climb unless you are under the
supervision of a qualified climber. Climb at your own risk. Good
To begin with there
are two broad categories of climbing:
Free climbing and b) Aid climbing.
There is a
pureness about free climbing as the climber relies solely on the
use of his or her own skills to ascend a rock face. Equipment
can be used, it's done so strictly for safety reasons (i.e. to
offer protection during a fall).
the use of equipment to ascend a rock face, which under normal
circumstances wouldn't be possible to free climb. From an ethical
perspective it is worth pointing out that you should always leave
the rock face in the same condition as we found it.
Climbing has continued
to evolve and now we have categories such as:
* Bouldering (technical,
fun, good way to get started)
* Traditional climbing (i.e. 'Trad'), (challenging, scary, knackering,
but great fun)
* Indoor climbing, (safe, great for practice or introduction to
* Ice climbing (unpredictable nature of the ice structures make
this inherently riskier than many other forms of climbing)
* Sport climbing (uses existing fixed gear which speeds climbing
pace, not as risky as some other types as climbing)
* Alpine climbing (Matterhorn anyone? Strictly for the advanced
climber who is very skilled in rock climbing, ice climbing, wilderness
survival and meteorology)
* Mixed climbing (er... it is what it says it is. Climbing on
mixed terrain, snow, ice, rock...)
We shall deal
with each type of climbing in turn, although priority will be
given to the types of climb best suited to novice and intermediate
climbers. As this site develops we will include more content on
advanced level stuff
Bouldering is perhaps
the purest forms of climbing where the climber stays relatively
close to the ground and does not use ropes or other protection
to climb. Bouldering can be practiced on indoor walls, along the
bottom of a route but perhaps best when performed on a proper
Boulder (which are usually under 12 foot).
crash mat (i.e a bouldering mat) is often used to protect fallers
and the climber should stay within a height where is safe to fall
from without injury. Bouldering is great fun, requires little
in the way of equipment, can be a very good introduction to the
sport of trad climbing, and provides an ideal way to practice
technique and build strength.
climbing (Trad climbing)
is damn scary, physically knackering and extremely challenging
so I suppose that's why it continues to be one of the most popular
forms of climbing. Trad climbing puts the climber in direct contact
with the mountain or crag. Climbing gear is used for protection
purposes only (not to aid climbing) and is designed to be inserted
and removed in such as manner as to not mar the rock face in any
way. Obviously if one of the prime objectives is to leaving the
rock face in the same condition as when nature created it - the
fixing a permanent bolt is not an option so you'll quickly learn
the art of placing gear (or protection) and if you get it wrong,
you won't last long.
Indoor climbing: indoor wall
Indoor climbing walls
provide a safe, comfortable climbing environment, which can be
used year round by beginners through to advanced climbers. Indoor
climbing centres continue to gain popularity, as they are a convenient
venue for the provision of climbing lessons/courses.
climbing' is also becoming more popular as climbers go head to
head and compete in a variety of different disciplines such as:
bouldering, speed climbing and in some instances ice climbing
Ice climbing is inherently riskier than many other forms of climbing
due to the unpredictable nature of the ice structures they climb.
Ice climbers must accept risks of avalanches, falling ice, and
that the ice may be too soft to provide secure protection for
the ice screws, ice hooks and pound-ins. Climbing frozen waterfalls
in sub-zero temperatures with the use of a couple of ice axes
an some crampons may not be everybody's idea of a fun day out,
but is good and dangerous.
Sport climbing is centered around climbing to ones physical potential.
Basically sport routes have fixed protection (i.e 'bolts') already
in place, which enables the climber to quickly snap a rope in,
and get on with climbing rather than having to stop and place
removable protection. Making use of the fixed certainly gear makes
sport climbing less risky than other forms of climbing (such as
'trad climbing') but it does quicken the climbing pace. Sports
climbers are therefore able to climb more routes in a day than
say 'trad climber, and if you look at it from an 'ease to get
started 'perspective, its requires hardly any gear. I guess I
should mention the bit about fixed gear being uncool because…
hmmm… it does permanently knacker the rock face, and therefore
in some parts of the world its seriously frowned upon, whilst
in other parts of the world its accepted.
Alpine climbing is strictly for the advanced climber who is very
skilled in rock climbing, ice climbing, wilderness survival and
meteorology. Alpinists are not only faced with massive climbs,
but they battle against below freezing temperatures, severe weather
conditions, and altitude sickness. Speed is vital in alpine climbing
and the climber can't afford to waste time since it is necessary
to carry a backpack (which zaps climbing energy), the climbers
hands can go numb, and the weather can deteriorate rapidly. Snow-covered
glaciers and lightening storms can be exceptionally dangerous
for the alpine climber.
Mixed climbing encompasses climbing routes of mixed terrain (typically
ice, snow and rock) which and can be multi-pitched, and vary in
length (from a short demanding climb through to an Alpine route
of several thousand feet). Mixed climbers need to be very skilled
in traditional climbing techniques, ice climbing techniques, wilderness
survival, and meteorology.