Rock Climbing: So You Want To Be A Rock Climber
Rock climbing is an extreme sport that leaves no room for guess work. There are several styles to choose from, with the level of safety ranging from very safe to life-threatening. You need to know just how far you're willing to go.
So you want to be a rock climber. You'd like to climb a rock wall or maybe hang off the side of a rock formation somewhere. Well, you'll have several styles to choose from to do it. It could be as easy as climbing a small tree or you could seriously risk your life. Either way, you'll need to know exactly what you're doing.
Rock climbing is climbing to the summit of a natural rock formation or climbing to the summit of a manmade rock wall. It could also be climbing to a designated endpoint on a climbing route. It doesn't always mean that you've got to reach the very top. A sectional climb like this is referred to as a pitch. If you're climbing several routes consecutively, it would be considered a multi-pitch climb.
Rock climbing has been around for nearly a hundred years. Climbers have encountered many kinds of rock formations all around the world. It's not surprising then that rock climbing has branched into several more distinct styles. Most of the rock climbing done today is considered to be a form of free climbing. This involves using solely one's own physical ability to climb. Equipment is used but only as a means of protection from falling.
æ Aid climbing. The safest method of rock climbing is aid climbing. Equipment is used for all handholds and all footholds, meaning that the climber is assisted every step of the way. When rock climbing first began, this method allowed for ascents that were believed impossible. It was this fantastic enabling quality of aid climbing that brought such interest to the sport.
æ Bouldering. This style of rock climbing involves short climbing routes that are near enough to the ground that a fall should not result in the climber's death. There is no rope or harness but, preferably, there is a helmet. The only other option for protection is to use a bouldering pad (protective mat). The climbing partner (an absolute necessity) on the ground usually directs the location of this pad, aligning it with the climber's location. The climbing partner is also the all-seeing eye that warns the climber of hazardous areas.
æ Top Roping. This is probably the easiest and safest way to free climb. A rope is already secured through an anchor at the top of the climb. A belayer, your climbing partner, holds onto the opposite end of the rope, controlling any give or take while keeping it taut.
æ Lead Climbing. This involves a lead climber who ascends with one end of a rope tied to his harness. The belayer, the leader's partner, holds onto the other end of the rope, giving or taking up slack as needed. The lead climber sets up a belay system as she climbs, securing safety anchors for her partner to use, which is also the fail-safe system to catch the lead climber in case she falls.
If this is a multi-pitch route, the partner picks up the anchor points on the way up. The climbers then proceed to the next pitch. If it's a single pitch, the anchor points are cleaned (taken out) on the way down by the last climber. This is a great way to help keep criticisms at bay that rock climbers litter the natural landscape. All climbers should live the creed: Take nothing, leave nothing.
æ Free Solo Climbing. This is also called free soloing. It is the most advanced form of rock climbing. The climber uses nothing for protection. No anchor points, no belay, no rope and no harness. If he falls, he falls unencumbered all the way down. It's quite frightening. Accidents, in this case, are tragic. You've got to be fit, skilled and have great emotional and psychological control to do this successfully. Be more than ready. Be extremely more than ready. Your life depends on it.
If you decide to free solo, be very weary of the weather. The climbing may be going just fine and then it rains. This could prove fatal to this kind of climber. Dry, sunny days are what you want. Don't risk your life.
æ Deep water soloing. The only "safe" method of free soloing is deep water soloing. This is climbing done on sea cliffs over water. While falling into the ocean beneath a cliff face seems better than falling on hard ground, it isn't particularly safe. You've got to be aware of the tides and of prevailing wave action, of submerged boulders or coral islands. Not only that but, if you're climbing more than 80 feet above the surface of the water, the impact alone could be fatal. Mind your elevation.
æ Indoor Climbing. This designation is for all rock climbing done indoors. Climbing is done on man-made rock climbing walls. Any style is permitted, although not free soloing. You're required to wear and use all safety gear. This would be the safest and most recommended way to learn how to rock climb.
There you have it, all the ways to rock climb. It could be a highly dangerous activity where you risk your life at every moment. Or it could be very safe and protected without worry. Just use caution at all times. And, please, don't ever climb outdoors alone. You know you're just asking for it.
Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Q. is a master blade sharpener and an adventurer who strives to protect the natural world. If you would like to learn about ª Knife Sharpening: How to Sharpen Knives, Maintain and Store Them ª The Fastest Way to Sharpen, Steeling and more ª Sharpening Other Edges (e.g. Lawn Mower Blades, Chain Saws, Gardening Tools, Axes) Find it here at http://www.MakeKnivesSharp.com .