Rock climbing usually indicates climbing steep rock formations. A climber may or may not choose to use gear and safety equipment used in rock climbing. However, certain crucial gear and equipment is essential and generally used. Rock climbing requires great amount of physical strength, mental control and endurance, along with the knowledge of climbing techniques. Rock climbing is, in general, a dangerous activity and accidents can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities. Originally an outdoor sport, many cities around the world have artificially created, indoor rock climbing venues popularly known as rock climbing gymnasiums. They can be modified to match the skill level needed for outdoor climbing and are increasingly gaining popularity among people. They are introducing new people to this sport, as it is seen safer than the outdoor version.
If the rock climber decides to use climbing gear, it would usually consist of a rope system, tying, belaying and lowering. Alternatively, some climbers use nothing but chalk powder on their hands, to avoid slipping due to perspiration. But for amateur climbers, it is essential to use climbing gear and also to use professional help to learn the tricks and techniques involved in rock climbing. This is required to avoid injuries and fatalities.
It is a common trend for climbers to work in pairs, with one person climbing and the other belaying. Belaying is the technique of controlling the rope such that if a climber falls, he does not fall very far. The job of the belayer is to feed the rope to the lead climber through a belaying device. The leader is one who climbs up and places protection in a continuous process. At this time, the belayer is ready to Arrest the rope, in case the lead climber falls.
Rock climbing is broadly categorized as free climbing, and aid climbing. In free climbing, the climber uses only natural features of rock formation. In aid climbing, artificial device placed in the rocks are used, which support either complete or a part of the weight of the climber. Aid climbing is usually practiced on those rock formations, where natural features required for free climbing are not available.
Free climbing is further divided into various categories according to the technique used. Some of them are-
. Traditional Lead Climbing mostly uses removable protection, but fixed protection may also be used at times. The team ascends, with the leader leading them and placing protective devices along the way. The climber, on falling, does not rest on the rope, but begins all over again. This style is seen by many, as the cleanest style, as the climber following the leader removes the protective devices and thus, hardly leaving any traces along the attempted path.
. Sport Lead Climbing uses pre-placed permanent bolts for protection. So, the leader does not have to carry additional devices and only carries some quick-draws to clip onto the already placed bolts. But this style carries its own risk, as the permanent bolts are likely to get dislodged or decay over a period of time. In case of a fall, the climber usually rests on the rope before beginning again.
In Top Rope Climbing the rope is suspended form the anchor located at the top of a short climb.