Have you ever been out for a walk and noticed the little black dots perched on the sides of sheer cliff faces? Or the rock walls in malls where individuals with perfect ripped bodies are hanging from the bumps trying to make it to the top and immediately thought rock climbing is not for you; either that or your internal passion has you wanting to try it? Whichever is true you will need to start the same way every rock climber started; learning the basics about equipment, safety and moving over rock.
Climbing is all about challenge and excitement. Certified instructors provide a safe experience for various levels of skill. Climbing is made fun by top roping, a technique which provides for maximum protection and the least amount of exposure. Learning various techniques will allow scaling up to a summit. Climbing shoes and all other gear are provided to make the adventure possible. The vertical world is a special place that blends balance and concentration in one motion
What is Rappelling?
"Down the rope”, is the best way to describe rappelling. These adventures take little to no skill but do require faith. Rappelling gives that free fall feeling without the airplane. Rappelling can be set up on short walls to high mountain cliffs with views that make your heart pound.
So what do you need to rock climb?
There are basic necessities for rock climbing and as you advance and get more skills you will quickly learn that your rock climbing equipment needs change depending upon where you are climbing.
The most fundamental piece of rock climbing is your desire and willingness to learn some proper techniques to keep accidents and injuries to a minimum. While you do not have to have a buff body and be able to bench press 300; it does help to be conditioned. Contrary to popular belief, rock climbing is not just about upper body strength; rather it is a combination of both upper and lower body power. One of the most common injuries associated with rock climbing is in the arms and shoulders as inexperienced climbers over use their arms when in fact it is your legs that help climb you to the top.
If you will be climbing for the first time it is highly recommended to locate a gym that teaches the fundamentals of rock climbing. This is the best place to practice the skills you have learned before you head out to climb Mt. Everest.
Once you have learned and practiced rock climbing techniques with an instructor or experienced climber the next thing is to understand the terms used when climbing.
Your gear should include a good pair of rock climbing shoes. If you are on a tight budget this is the one piece of equipment you do not want to go cheap on! There are many types of shoes and range in price from $50 upwards to a few hundred dollars. Shoes specifically designed for climbing are flexible enough to bend, but have soles that grip the rocks and protect your feet. Some of the brands for climbing are: Evolv, Five Ten, Mad Monkey and La Sportiva to name a few. The best climbing shoes are the ones that fit your feet properly, are comfortable and designed to give you the best support for the rocks you will be climbing.
A chalk bag and chalk are essentials to rock climbing regardless if you are top roping, bouldering or going for the extreme climb. One of the most important aspects of this outdoor sport is having your hands become almost one with the rock. Chalk will not only keep your hands dry but it will also increase the friction between your skin and the surface of the rock for a better hold.
While you may have seen individuals climb without the aid of rope; it is not recommended. Rope has several functions most importantly it allows you to climb and is the piece of equipment that will protect you incase you slip or lose your grip. There are many kinds of rope on the market today and just like climbing shoes careful consideration should be given before purchasing rope to aid in rock climbing. There are different kinds of rope to choose from: dynamic or static and wet or dry. A static rope is not elastic meaning if you fall you will most likely feel a jerk. These ropes are mostly used to carry or attach equipment to things. A dynamic rope is recommended for actually climbing and belaying. Dynamic ropes have a certain amount of elasticity and they reduce the force experienced by the climber and the equipment during a fall. It is also important to choose a rope that is dry-treated to keep it from absorbing water. Dry ropes last longer than a non-dry rope and is easier to handle when it is wet. Non-dry ropes are less expensive and ideal for use in dry conditions. If you are uncertain of the kind of rope to buy it is best to seek advice from an outfitting company experienced in the sport. Other rock climbing gear which helps ease your mind and keep you safe are helmets, webbing, carabiners, climbing tape harnesses and personal anchor systems (PAS).
You do not have to be the bionic women or six million dollar man to rock climb just the passion, desire a solid foundation and good technique.
Basic Foot Techniques
Backstepping: is outside edging on a foothold that is behind you while climbing a move with your side to the wall.
Edging: using the inside of the foot to stand on a foothold.
Flagging: a climbing technique in which one foot is crossed behind the other to avoid barn-dooring and to improve balance.
Heel hook: the use of the heel on a hold, usually near chest level, to aid in pulling and balance.
Smearing: when you place your foot directly on the rock or wall.
Toe hook: hooking your toe on the rock. Toe hooks are most common on arêtes and with underclings.
Basic Hand Techniques
Crimp: the most natural and stressful way to grip a rock hold; characterized by hyperextension of the first joint in the fingers and nearly full contraction of the second joint
Gaston: best described as a handhold that is only good from the side; you must hold it with your elbows pointing out and palm facing away from you.
Jug: a massive, easy to hold onto hold.
Open Hand Grip: gripping the rock with the first joint in the fingers and keeping the hand open. This is the safest hand position for your joints.
Pinch: a hold where you must pinch using your thumb and fingers to hold on (they vary in size).
Side pull: crimping or using an open hand grip on a vertical or near vertical hold.
Sloper: sloping hold with very little positive surface like palming a basketball.
Undercling: grabbing a hold with the palm facing up.
Basic Climbing Techniques
Cross through: crossing over or under your hand to reach a hold.
Drop knee: an exaggerated backstep in which one knee is dropped toward the ground with the other pointing up, great for overhanging rock.
Foot switch: a technique used to replace one foot with the other foot. It is best accomplished by slowly replacing the foot and without jumping.
Hand-foot-match: placing your hand and foot on the same hold at the same time.
High step: a technique to use with a high foot placement.
Mantle: a climbing technique that requires you to transfer from a pulling position to a pushing position; typically used to topout on boulder problems and to climb past a shelf on roped climbs.
Match: to place both hands on the same hold typically done when switching hands on the hold.