The How rock climbing works.

HOW ROCK CLIMBING WORKS
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How does rock climbing work?



Rock climbing is one of those sports that you are either a huge enthusiast of or you are baffled by the point of it all. What one may see as overcoming a great challenge and stretching your body and mind to their absolute limits, someone else may see as a pointless way to spend time and placing yourself in unnecessary danger. Both sides have valid arguments: rock climbing is a dangerous sport, and one that is very rewarding for those who love the thrill of it all. Serious climbers partake in the sport for different reasons but it’s generally because they love achieving personal goals and enjoy the challenge that nature puts before them. When the weather turns cold or conditions are not good, many climbers will turn to indoor gyms or centers where they can still enjoy their passion until the steep natural rock can once again be conquered. But serious climbers generally like to do so outdoors, because the connection between them and Mother Earth is such a great part of the sport. It’s much like skydiving in this way. It’s a sport that really is to be enjoyed by one person and while it can be done in pairs or groups, it’s not really a spectator sport.

Rock climbing is very simple in nature. You’re simply trying to climb something from the bottom to the top. But of course, rock climbing involves much more than that and any climbing, whether it be indoor or out, basic or advanced, requires special equipment and knowledge and of course, the more advanced you get in the sport, the more of this equipment and knowledge you need. There are also many different types of rock climbing, many different techniques that can be used, and different positions that climbers have when they are climbing in groups. Once you become interested in rock climbing and really start to learn about the sport, you begin to realize just how much is involved in it and that is part of the draw of the entire sport. So how can you scale a wall of sheer rock using what seems to only be a rope and a good pair of shoes? Here we’ll look at what rock climbing really is all about and just how it works.

Types of Rock Climbing

What kind of climber you are and what kind of conditions you prefer will determine what kind of rock climbing you partake in. There are many different types of rock climbing, all with their own challenges and rewards, and all with their own different skill levels.

Traditional Rock Climbing: This is what people generally think of when they hear of rock climbing. Climbers generally go up in pairs and they are connected by a rope. As they climb, they place different wedges, nuts, and other pieces of equipment into the rock and tie the rope around it. This prevents the climber from falling off the rock should they slip because the rope will catch them. As they climb, they use the rocks and natural nooks and crannies for hand and footholds. Both climbers will also wear racks of specialized equipment that will hold the wedges, nuts, and other pieces of equipment. In this type of climbing, the sheer joy of climbing is finding out how to use the equipment, how to effectively climb, and to conquer personal challenges.

Sport Climbing: Sport climbing is very much based on the same principles as traditional rock climbing. The only difference is that the wedges and nuts that the climbers would normally place into the rock themselves are permanently bolted there. This type of climbing is mostly used and enjoyed for testing a climber’s speed and skill.

Free Solo Climbing: Free solo climbing differs only from spot climbing in that no rope is used. If a climber slips, they will fall and there is a great chance of death. This is the most dangerous type of rock climbing and is mostly done by climbers who climb for a thrill.

I
ndoor Climbing: Indoor climbing is done in a rock climbing center or gym and the face of a rock is constructed from concrete or plywood. Different handholds and footholds are placed all along the wall for climbers to use on their way up. This type of climbing can be limited because the construction of the wall will depend on the height of the building however, the different equipment can be easily taken out of the wall and rearranged to give climbers variety, even if they are regular members of the climbing gym. Also, the availability is only dependent on when the gym is open and is not affected by weather or other conditions.

Ice Climbing: In ice climbing, there is actually no rock in the structure that is being climbed. The structures are instead huge structures made entirely of ice, such as glaciers. Special equipment and knowledge is needed for this type of climbing.

Bouldering and Buildering: This type of climbing also doesn’t necessarily need to be done on rocks. Bouldering is generally done on and around boulders that are generally no higher than 10 feet and buildering is climbing around buildings and chimneys. In either case, no ropes are generally used but the danger of death is also not as present.

Different Skill Levels and Techniques

One of the most interesting things about rock climbing, and one of the things most enjoyed by those who love the sport, is that it’s a sport that can truly accommodate any skill level. Beginner skill levels generally consist of rocks or walls that have obvious and big cracks and crevices and that have a pretty rough surface area. Just about anyone who is in enough physical shape to pull themselves up slightly can take on a beginner course. As the climbing gets more advanced, they will climb to higher heights, on which the rock will be very smooth and the cracks will be so thin that they are both very difficult to see and to grab hold of. This type of climbing not only requires the physical capability of maneuvering around the rocks and working different parts of the body for proper balance, but it also requires the sharpness of mind to know which footholds and handholds will work best and how to quickly get in and out of position.

The trick to rock climbing is all in the legs. Ideally, climbers want to always use their legs for pushing themselves up and moving across the rock, while using their arms only for balance purposes. Climbers also try to keep their center of gravity over their feet, as this helps them with balance. As the rock becomes steeper and advanced climbers climb higher, the rock also becomes much smoother and it’s not only difficult to maintain a good position, but it’s also difficult to grab onto the rock. A climber needs to be incredibly strong to be able to hold onto this rock, and they even need to have an incredible amount of strength in the tips of their fingers, so they’ll be able to continue holding onto the rock. Endurance is also very important so that they’ll be able to stay in one position on the rock while figuring out the best route to take. Not to mention that the entire time, the climber is also trying to device a constant sequence of nooks and crannies that they can claim stake on and move themselves over to. It’s amazing how very difficult rock climbing can actually become!

In the United States, there is a classing system used so that climbers and instructors can describe how difficult certain routes are. There are 6 classes in all however, only the first 5 fall within the term ‘rock climbing.’ Class 6 is rock that is so smooth that it is impossible for anyone to climb without the use of something such as a ladder. The other 5 classes vary in difficulty, beginning with things such as simple walking and can be compared to climbing a ladder, while the upper classes are considered to be elite and include structures that only the best climbers in the world can conquer.

The Equipment Needed and How it Works

One of the greatest things about the sport of rock climbing is that there is very little equipment necessary. Other than a few things to keep you safe out on the rock and a good, solid structure that looks climber-friendly, you don’t really need much more than that. And even those supplies are minimal. These include: climbing shoes, which are much like slippers; a harness; carabiners, which will allow you to loop your rope around your harness; gloves or hand chalk to give you more grip; several quickdraws, which is a pair of carabiners that are held together by strong mesh material; a belay and rappelling device; a rope; and a helmet. All of this equipment is used by the climbers, who generally climb in pairs, and they must be able to use it together and work together to have an effective and fun climb.

The climber that starts going up first is called the lead climber. The lead climber has a rope tied to their harness, and the second climber, who is known as the belayer, is holding onto the other end of the rope. The belayer then also runs rope through the belay device, which lets them feed more rope out to the lead climber as the lead climber continues up the rock. As the lead climber makes their way up, they will soon come to a bolt in the wall (assuming that it’s a sport climbing course.) This bolt will have a metal loop to which the lead climber will connect their rope to using a quickdraw. The climber will first hook a carabiner onto one end of the quickdraw and attach that to the bolt before running the rope through the second end of the quickdraw. Once this is finished, the lead climber can then make their way up, hooking into each bolt as they reach it.

If the lead climber slips and falls, the belayer needs to be ready to catch the fall with the rope. The lead climber can only fall a maximum of twice the distance between them and their last bolt, added to how much slack is left in the rope, and how much stretch the rope holds. So, if a lead climber falls and they are 4 feet from their last bolt, they will fall 8 feet. If there was also 2 feet of slack left by the belayer, they will fall 10 feet and if the rope stretches 1 foot, the lead climber will fall 11 eleven feet. The lead climber can also only climb to a maximum of half the length of rope. This is because if they climb much further than that and fall, the belayer will not be able to lower them back to the ground in case they are injured. This usually means that the lead climber can generally climb approximately 25 to 30 feet before stopping.

It is at this point that the lead climber and the belayer then usually switch roles. It is during the team that the two climbers switch roles that it is known as having completed the first pitch. When they are ready to make the switch, the lead climber will climb to an area on a rock where they can safely and comfortably stop. The lead climber will then tie into an anchor in the rock and the second climber will collect the quickdraws that were left behind by the lead climber. Once the first pitch is completed, the climbers will continue with their second pitch, and then their third, and so on until they have finished their route.

Traditional rock climbing is usually done in pairs as well and is done much the same way as sport climbing. The difference is that because the bolts aren’t permanent fixtures, they must be placed by the lead climber and collected along the way by the belayer. The lead climber also doesn’t place bolts into the rock but instead, they place other forms of protection into the rock. These types of protection include wedges, nuts, hexes, and cams. These pieces of equipment are not only crucial but the knowledge of proper placement is just as important. These pieces of equipment need to be fitted into the rock so that they will brace against the rock and still hold against the strain of a fall.


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