Rock Climbing. This high adventure sport is both physically and mentally demanding. The risks you run in this sport can vary from minor scrapes and bruises to a few thousand foot drop, which typically leads to death. This risky sport means you have to have absolute control over your muscles as well as your mind, but the rewards can be spectacular.
There are a few different types of climbing you should be aware of if you are interested in getting into this sport.
1. Aid Climbing
Aid climbing is the ‘old school’ way of climbing. It is still very popular today, but is less common than other types of climbing. With Aid climbing, you use two ladder like pieces of gear which you secure into the rock and then climb up. Aid climbing is very dependent on the climber knowing how to place gear in the rocks so that each step is secure. It sounds easy, but remember, you are 2,000 feet in the air when you do this!
2. Sport Climbing/Trad Climbing
Sport Climbing is probably the most common form of climbing. You hook yourself to the rock you are climbing as you reach the top through ‘quickdraws’. Quick draws are two carabiners connected through a section of nylon webbing that allow the climber to secure the rope to the wall without much effort. There is a belayer at the bottom of the rope making sure there is enough slack, and when they get to the top, they place an anchor and climb up. With sport climbing, there are bolts drilled into the rock already, all the climbers have to do is make it to the next bolt and clip in!
Trad climbing is very similar. It refers to ‘Traditional’ climbing, where there are no bolts drilled into the rock. Climbers must use ‘cams’ to place gear in the cracks in rocks and trust that if they fall, the gear will catch them!
Bouldering is probably one of the cheapest forms of climbing (next to free soloing, but we’ll get to that) because all you need is chalk, shoes, and a crash pad in case you fall. (And of course some INVIGORADE) Bouldering is typically closer to the ground than Sport, Trad or Aid climbing. The climbs are between 8-20 feet tall. With bouldering it is you, the rock and a short fall. This form of rock climbing is focused on short powerful moves or extremely technical ones. Bouldering will definitely get you pumped up!
5. Free Soloing
Free soloing is most definitely the cheapest type of climbing out there. It's also the highest risk. Free soloing takes all of the physically challenging elements of bouldering and mixes it with the mental aspect of big wall climbing. Free soloing is climbing without any gear. Climbers who free solo bring a bag of chalk and their climbing shoes to the rocks and can climb anywhere from 200-3,000 feet up! See free solo extraordinaire Alex Honnald below doing what he does best in Yosemite.
Rock climbing is a very rewarding sport, but make sure that you start small and work your way up. It has been gaining more and more popularity in the recent years and local indoor gyms are everywhere now a days. So grab yourself a pair of climbing shoes, a little chalk and some INVIGORADE for support and go climb a rock this Summer!
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