Different Ways to Climb

Rock Climbing

So what is outdoor rock climbing?

Rock climbing is an activity in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route without falling. Rock climbing is a physically and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber’s strength, endurance, agility and balance along with mental control. It can be a dangerous sport and knowledge of proper climbing techniques and usage of specialized climbing equipment is crucial for the safe completion of routes. Because of the wide range and variety of rock formations around the world, rock climbing has been separated into several different styles and sub-disciplines.

Lead Climbing

  • Top Rope Climbing: is a style in climbing in which the climber is securely attached to a rope which then passes up, through an anchor system (e.g. an ATC or Gri-Gri) at the top of the climb, and down to a belayer at the foot of the climb. Top-roping is a great entry point into roped rock climbing.
  • Sport Climbing: is a form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors (or bolts), permanently fixed into the rock for climber protection, in which a rope that is attached to the climber is clipped into the anchors to arrest a fall.
  • Roped Party: In a roped party one climber has to take the lead while the other climbers follow. The lead climber wears a harness attached to a climbing rope, which in turn is connected to the other climbers below the lead climber. While ascending the route, the lead climber periodically connects the rope to protection equipment for safety in the event of a fall.

Traditional Climbing

  • Traditional Climbing: is a style of rock climbing in which the climber places all the necessary protection gear required to arrest any falls as they are climbing, and then removes it when the pitch is complete (often done by the second/follow-on climber).


What’s different about bouldering?

Bouldering is a form of free climbing that is performed on small rock formations without the use of ropes or harnesses, at heights that typically allow you to safely jump down back to the ground. While bouldering can be done without any equipment, most climbers use climbing shoes to help secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry and to provide a firmer grip, and bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls.

In outdoor bouldering it is also highly recommended to have “spotters”, one or more people that guide your fall to the ground and ensure that you land and stay on the crash-pads.

There a great introduction to rock climbing on theCrag if you would like more information.