Rock climbing is a sporting activity where a person climbs rock formations in several directions, usually with some type of suspenders or other sophisticated gear.
This sport is not only extremely exciting it is also quite dangerous which is why years of practice are required before even beginning; something that is vital to understand.
Rock climbing is a crucial test of mental endurance and patience as well as physical strength, a trait combination not everyone is great at. Even though people have been amusing themselves with this sport since centuries, the refinement in tools and ropes is something newly acquired.
History of Rock Climbing
The inception of this extreme sport can be dated back to the 15th century as even then people were fond of climbing various rock formations just for the sake of fun or an adrenaline buzz.
Gradually, people started to pick up on the trend and it became more than just a hobby for some as they started to pursue it for a purpose.
Antoine de Ville is one of the most notable climbers as he is one of the earliest individuals to climb a mountain and various rock formations with the most basic tools and mostly his hands. His ascension on Mont Aiguille started a movement of sorts as rock climbing became more popular and developed a fan following shortly after.
Gradually the craze for various extreme sports took off and people started to chase several adrenaline pumping activities even more.
Imagine the intensity of climbing a mountain with virtually fundamental tools back in the 18th century, with no guarantees of making it out alive!
The sport enthusiasts started to become more engrossed by challenging themselves. Thus the year 1786 can be termed as the beginning of the ‘modern mountaineering era’ in lieu of the works of Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard. They used somewhat advanced tools for their ascent onto the Mont Blanc and their legendary climb of 15,771 feet was an iconic progression in the field of mountain climbing.
By the early 1900s, countless people jumped on the bandwagon and started to explore the exceptionally dangerous sport.
The century was already blossoming into an industrial era which meant the climbing tools were now more refined than ever before. With the ease of usage this innovative and new equipment brought, sky was the limit for countless adventure seekers around the world.
Year 1910 was when people gradually got a better hold of this sport and started handling the equipment with more finesse. As it was an innovative era, there were some successful experiments leaving an indelible impact on the rock climbing avenue for years to come.
Emilio Comici is a notable name for his invention of the multi-set ladder and belays during this time as these inventions became a vital part of rock climbing in future.
Even though the sport was quite vigorous, it was not until the 1950s that it was officially recognized as a sport other than mountaineering.
Given the similar genre of sports, it was easy to confuse the two up but the raging recognition of rock climbing gave it some well-deserved fame.
During the 1960s and the 1970s, the concept of free climbing was once again restored by Yosemite Climbers. The limited climbing aids further exalted the level of exuberance of this extreme sport.
Finally, after the 1980s rock climbing positively suffused through the globe and countless people started chasing this activity. Whether for strength building purposes or improving the body flexibility for gymnastics, rock climbing was now a world renowned sport.
People have taken up challenges like never before to pledge their dedication to the sport and the number of expert rock climbers soared in the 21st century with unmatched intensity.
Types of Rock Climbing
It is actually intriguing how much this sport has to offer to its countless followers. The variation of rock climbing overtime shows how much potential there is in this avenue.
Whether you are into extreme agility enhancing tactics or just some novice level nature engaging activities, rock climbing is the umbrella under which everything can be simply pursued!
Traditional Rock Climbing
As the name suggests, this is the common most way of engaging in the sport. Traditional rock climbing is all about simplicity and following this passion for the sake of fun.
There is hardly any complexity in this type of rock climbing as it focuses on the most generic and raw form of rock climbing. Here the climber will probably be harnessed with the absolute essential gear which is generally attached to the rock first.
Even though this might sound relatively easier and look simple thanks to its popularity in film scenes, traditional rock climbing also demands years of practice which is why people generally join a club to brush up their skills.
Since rock climbing is also about developing the strength of mind, traditional rock climbing does not have pre-determined pathways for climbers to follow in real life rock formations. Thus it is vital that the climber has some technical knowledge before performing this in the real world.
After some training, ensure that you have the proper gear and your ropes have properly latched onto the rock before making the first move!
With a combination of versatility and difficulty, this type of rock climbing is best for those willing to go to extreme lengths when it comes to sports.
A climber is supposed to go after more powerful jumps as this kind of rock climbing is all about pushing the body’s limit to the next level. Climbers should be prepared for the countless falls that they may face before an actual successful attempt.
As the gear and tools are already attached with the rock formation before a climber begins, it is easier to go faster without indulging in too many mental calculations.
This way of climbing is a test of strength and swiftness thus it is quite safer than the more traditional methods as well. As a climber has to exceed all boundaries of strength they do not carry any equipment so as to avoid the added weight which may prove to be an obstacle to their speed.
Free Solo Climbing
Any true nature enthusiast would argue that the purest form of rock climbing is free solo climbing. No matter how practiced a person is, solo climbing is one of the most dangerous ways of ascension as there are literally no tools or equipment involved.
A person is completely dependent on their own hands and body strength in this type of climbing so body strength is a paramount success factor.
In case of solo climbing, it is advised that the person only covers a small height before daring themselves to cover an even tricky length. This sort of climbing truly puts the climber parallel to death so it has to be done once an immense level of experience has been acquired. Remember how Tom Cruise’s moves in Mission Impossible destroyed your heart; this is exactly like that but in real life!
It is widely assumed that indoor climbing would be less intense and easily accomplished by a beginner even, but this is such a wrong concept. Indoor climbing is as strenuous as outdoor climbing can be; the only difference is that it is done on a structure made of plywood or concrete.
Indoor climbing also involves the same level of technical apparatus usage just like an outdoor climb would; it is just more strength oriented for those individuals who want to take up rock climbing as a routine workout. Aspiring climbers also take up indoor climbing before they can actually resort to rock climbing in the outdoors. One of the biggest advantages of indoor climbing is how there is some type of supervision available which beginners can count on.
An extremely tough and exhilarating experience can be derived from this type of rock climbing as climbers are virtually caving their way up or down an ice formation.
Typically targeting glaciers or frozen waterfalls, ice climbing is an ultimate wonderland for an adrenaline junkie. The cold combined with the intimidating passageway, will surely make a climber think twice before going on such an adventure.
Needless to point out, ice climbing also requires special tools which can bring some sort of ease to the climber making such an arduous journey.
Not only does a person need to fully acclimatize their body and mind to the harsh environment but they also need to go through the initial training which will prove to be death defying in times of need. Ice climbing is every bit as daunting as perceived so a person needs to show commitment to the cause and take all the necessary precautions. The professional ice climbers have had years of experience and knowledge which enables them to go for such adventures, a novice needs to get properly trained beforehand.
Bouldering and Building
Another innovative way of climbing that has recently surfaced is bouldering. Here, a unique system of technique and strength is amalgamated which makes it relatively easier for the climber to make his ascent on buildings and non-rock bodies.
Since the climber does not go at an immense height there is no use of ropes but a crashing pad is placed underneath just in case.
A climber needs proper gear for bouldering as well even if it is being done indoors. Various buildings are marked as per the level of difficulty and a climber has to make his climb with no support whatsoever.
Once again the importance of acute training cannot be emphasized upon enough as there are risks involved in this type of climbing as well. This competitive nature of rock climbing calls for some serious authentication and supervision as well so beginners should steer clear until they develop the relevant skills.
Basic Tools Needed for Rock Climbing
Now that the central types of rock climbing have been established, it is crucial to understand the role proper gear has in this sport. Any sporting activity feels incomplete if it is pursued without the right set of tools.
The significance of proper paraphernalia is even more heightened in rock climbing as a person’s life literally depends on it. Understanding this clause will ensure the safety of a climber as well as his performance in the field.
A perfect way of starting the journey is by cautiously preparing all the tools beforehand so that the climber does not miss out on anything important. Other than some basic tools, there are added components to the whole rock climbing paraphernalia which can expedite the learning process for novices too.
However, the quality should not be compromised on so do not be stingy and splurge on high quality stuff, it is a matter of your life after all!
Needless to say, you cannot go for rock climbing unless you have the perfect rope that can support you. Unless you are going for bouldering or some other technique which can be done without the use of rope, it is quintessential to be prepared.
The particulars of a rope truly depend on the journey a person is foreseeing. Universal length of rope is estimated around 60 meters but it should incorporate the length of the rock formation and then settled accordingly.
Another imperative factor is the width of the rope as that determines whether it will be able to sustain a climber’s body weight or not. Roughly 11 mm of cord should be perfect for any type of climb but it is best to consult an expert if you are planning an unusual climb. Remember to tie and store the rope in a butterfly-coil shape to avoid any accidents.
From the perfect shoes to the clothes, climbing also calls for some impeccable apparel. Climbing shoes are different from trainers so invest in a good pair right now!
Your clothes should not only be comfortable but also be heat or cold resistant depending on the climbing climate. The purpose is to plan ahead so that the best experience can be gathered without worrying over minute details.
An athlete’s performance reaches perfection once attention to the outfit is paid as its lack can seriously harm the future endeavor.
Not only should clothes and sportswear protect an individual but also provide that extra vitality in their steps. If rock climbing is being pursued competitively, the importance of the outfit increases tenfold. So if you want to invest so much time and effort it is advised to go that extra mile and invest some cash as well.
A climb might just be incomplete without a proper set of harness which provides safety to the climber. Without a durable set of harness, it is not advised to go ahead with rock climbing. Not only does it serve the safety purpose, but also assist a climber in attaching several other gears to it.
For added zeal a harness might be left aside but this is only for the experts out there! No sport is worthy of risking your precious life so it always a good idea to be safe than sorry.
Harnesses also come in a huge array of variety so choose the one that best matches your skill set and your next climbing adventure.
Quickdraw and Belay Device
A belay device ensures that the rope is kept taut as per the climber’s preferences. It assists in the sport as it provides some added security and control to the climbers.
Ropes need to be maneuvered carefully as they can get knotted up and lead to more difficulty than ease so this is where a belay device comes in handy. By acting as a brake, a belay device can truly safe a person facing an impending fall and provide some control to his climb.
Quickdraws have twin carabiners which can further assist a rock climbing adventure. The rope can run through these carabiners and provide some extra protection to the climber.
For a climb, a person might need several quickdraws but this truly depends on the length of the rock formation. It is always a better idea to have several quickdraws at hand before starting the ascent as they might all be used accordingly.
This iconic tool used by most climbers is an essential part of the whole package. Rubbing some chalk powder on hands gives that extra sense of protection because the level of friction is increased. To enhance the grip and avoid any slipping accidents, it is always a good idea to be prepared with some chalk on the go.
Since sport climbing and bouldering does not incorporate any other type of tools, hands doused in chalk are a huge priority there. A chalk bag on the go is a great invention of keeping extra chalk safe and storing it while one is indulging in the activity of rock climbing itself.
It is important to be fully organized and rapt not just with the training but also when it comes to the tools and equipment. Taking some preliminary indoor classes will further define the horizons for beginners especially.
Rock climbing is an exciting and adventurous way of exploring this world’s beauty and one’s’ body strength so it must be done with immense fervor and protection! Happy Rock Climbing!
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