What is Climbing?

Bottom Rope Climbing

Commonly known as “Top Roping”, the belayer belays a climber from the ground or the base of the route. The rope runs from the belayer to an anchor at the top of the route and back down to the climber. The rope is “taken-in”, to clear up the slack as the climber moves upwards, so in the event of a fall the climber falls the shortest distance possible. The length of a fall is normally no more than a meter, but can vary depending on the length of the route (the longer the rope, the more stretch the rope will undergo when weighted) and the weight of the climber compared to that of the belayer, among other things.

Lead Climbing

Lead climbing is another climbing technique used to get to the top of a route. Unlike bottom rope climbing, the rope is not anchored to the wall to start with. As the climber progresses, they clip the rope through metal bolts on the wall with ‘quickdraws’. These are spaced around 1.5m apart. As the climber has to climb past the previous bolt to reach the next, if they fall off they will fall much further than in bottom roping. The size of the fall is dependant on how heavy the climber and belayer is, how far above the last clipped bolt they were and how loose or ‘slack’ the rope was before the fall.As lead climbing does not require a pre-placed anchor at the top of the route, it is often seen as less restricted than top roping.

Bouldering

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is performed without the use of ropes or harnesses. While it can be done without any equipment whatsoever, most climbers use climbing shoes to help secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry, and bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls. Unlike free solo climbing, which is also performed without ropes, bouldering problems (the path that a climber takes in order to complete the climb) are usually less than 20 feet tall.

Traversing

Traversing is climbing from one side of a wall to another going mainly sideways rather than up or down. Traversing a climbing wall is a good warm-up exercise and we use it often in our training sessions to practise specific moves or climbing techniques.

Trad Climbing

‘Trad’ or ‘Traditional’ climbing is similar to lead climbing but it is carried out on real rock. Trad climbers do not have pre placed bolts to clip in to so they must rely on gear such as nuts, hexes and cams placed by themselves into cracks and features in the rock. The lead climber sets up an anchor at the top of the route using his rope and other equipment. The lead climber then belays up their second from the ground on top rope and the second removes the gear as they progress up the route.