Archive for the ‘Introduction’ Category


Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Introduction to Climbing

So you want to climb walls? Good decision. Climbing demands skill, strength, stamina, fortitude and a chess player’s mind. The act of scaling a sheer wall is like nothing you’ve experienced before, except maybe in your dreams. Develop a passion for climbing and you will follow a path that can take you to a variety of places—from your local rock gym to some of the most beautiful and secluded places in the world. (Everest, anyone?) Whether it becomes a life-long journey or a momentary diversion, dealing with your physical and mental challenges that climbing presents is an experience you won’t forget. In vertical places, the term “peak experience” truly applies.

Climbing Disciplines.

Different styles of Climbing

  • There’s traditional rock climbing, where the climber uses removable protection. This is adventurous, self-reliant style is what most people think of when they picture rock jocks scaling vertical walls of rock.
  • Climbing indoors in a gym or Artificial rock climbing provides fitness benefits and convenience, albeit the aesthetic thrill of a pristine wilderness setting.
  • Bouldering, which often requires difficult, even gymnastic, moves, is done without a rope, rarely more than 10 feet off the ground.
  • Sport climbing is done on pre-bolted routes usually on vertical to overhanging rock. This style emphasizes safe, often difficult climbing.

Climbing Equipment

Personal gear

  • Rock Shoes. The first time you try on a pair of these, they’re so snug you’ll feel like one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, cramming tour foot meant for someone else. Rock shoes are swathed with sticky rubber that’s meant to stick on even the smallest edges and even flat slabs. The perfect fit will be as if the shoe were molded to your foot.
  • Harness. Most gym climbing harnesses have adjustable leg loops for a more customized fit. Both waist and leg loops should fit snugly to provide a perfect fit.
  • Chalkbag. Like gymnasts, most climbers use chalk (magnesium carbonate) to help keep hands and fingers dry and to improve grip on the rock.

Group Gear

  • Rope. A kernmantle rope is used as the climber’s life line, security blanket, guide- wire, and safety net all rolled into one.
  • Belay device. The Petzl Grigri is favored by most climbing gyms. It works a bit like a car’s automatic seatbelt setup. Proper setup is required, however, as with any belay device, everyone needs to sharpen each belay skills.
  • Carabiners. Also called biners, these are metal devices that open to one side (the gate). Locking carabiners feature a screwgate that requires you to twist a sleeve to lock the gate.

What to wear?

Dress in clothing that allows easy movement. Shorts and a T-shirt or tank top are mainstays. Some climbers like lycra tights, others go for baggy shorts or 3/4 pants. Avoid wearing very loose clothing, which can snag on the wall or in the rope. Extra fabric can easily get caught in gear.

Basic Climbing Tips

  • Climb with your feet first. Try to move up the climb with leg power by keeping your feet high and your hands low. Climbing like this teaches you to balance on the footholds. Keep your hips over your feet. Suck your hips close to the wall.
  • Keep your arms slightly bent. Don’t extend them so high that your weight comes off your feet.
  • Use your hands lightly for balance, not to claw your way up the all. Like climbing a ladder, grip the rungs for balance, and push with your legs
  • Constantly be on the look out for footholds instead of becoming fixated on handholds.
  • Rest every few moves. Don’t pull on the holds during your rest periods. Instead, hang from a straight arm while you lower or shake out the other, like a swimmer loosening up.

Basic climbing technique

  • Use of handholds
  • Three-point system
  • Types of grips
    1. Jug
    2. Undercling
    3. Sidepull
    4. Open Crimp
    5. Closed Crimp
    6. Sloper
    7. Pocket
    8. Pinch
    9. Nubbins / Screw-ins / jibbs
  • Use of footholds
    1. Good foothold placement
    2. Edging
    3. Smearing
    4. Resting
    5. Change foot / Swapping feet
    6. Toe hook
  • Rest / Shake-off

Advanced climbing technique

  • Twist and back step
  • Rock over
  • Mantle
  • Flagging (inside flag and outside flag)
  • Drop knee
  • Gaston
  • High step
  • Route finding/ route reading

A Few Tips to avoid injuries:

  • Work within your established range of motion. Some climbers can hyperextend their joints like toddlers. If you can do it normally, great. If not, don’t force it.
  • Warm up with a few easy climbs and, once you’re revved up, do some gentle stretching. Stretching cold often does more harm than good.
  • Drink, drink, drink—water, that is. Wilting on the wall from dehydration like a neglected plant can turn a beautiful day ugly.
  • Breathe properly. And focus on your climb.
  • Know when to stop. Being sore after a long day of climbing is one of the great feelings in sports, being too sore to touch your nose is one of the worst.
  • Don’t just run off after your workout. Take a few minutes to cool down properly. Just like a muscle needs time to warm up, it needs sufficient time to cool down. This is the ideal time to stretch warm muscles gently, keeping them long and limber for your next workout.
  • If you pull or strain something while climbing, apply ice ASAP.

Will I Fall?

You will fall. But the important thing to remember is that you won’t fall to the ground. You’ll be in a harness, which will be attached to a rope, which will be attached to something solid—an anchor. The more important ingredient isn’t the equipment, it’s the way the climber uses it. Modern climbing gear—properly used—will withstand thousands of normal falls. You should be more concerned about using the gear correctly because climbing gear almost never fails.

Falling is inevitable, so don’t panic the first time you lose your footing and grip. Stay relaxed, let the harness take the load, and always keep your feet out in front of you to protect yourself from crashing against the wall.

Will I Die?

The majority of accidents involve a fall, a slip on rock or ice, or falling rock. The most common contributing causes are as follows:

  • Climbing unroped
  • Attempting a climb that exceeds one’s ability
  • Being improperly equipped for the conditions.

Some experts think that the majority of fatalities in the climbing world involve beginners and experts. Beginners are done in by inexperience, they say, and the experts fall prey to carelessness, overconfidence, and choosing extreme routes.


    Climber : CLIMBING !
    I’m moving up now. Keep the rope in between arms. Climb towards the top anchors.
    Belayer: CLIMB ON ! O.k. All my attention is on you and I’m aware of my belay system. You can start moving up.
    Climber: TENSION ! / TAKE ! There is slack on the rope! Take the rope in.
    Climber: SLACK ! The rope is too tight! Loosen the rope on system a little bit.
    Climber: FALLING ! I can’t hold on to the wall! I’m falling down! Brace yourself!
    Anyone: O.K. ! This is the generic response that you answer to your climbing partner after he or she has finished saying or shouting a verbal signal. Equivalent to saying “ yes ” ; “ I hear you ” ; “ go ” ; “ go ahead ”
    Climber: DOWN ! I’ve finished climbing the route. I’m seated on my harness and you can bring me down now.
    Belayer: LET GO ! I am now ready to belay you down. Make sure that the climber isn’t clinging to the wall anymore and gently kicking away to prevent his or her knees from hitting the holds.