Climbing comprises different sub-disciplines and beginners often seem to confuse one form of discipline with another. In this article, we will attempt to explain as simply as possible, the different forms of climbing.
Climbing in general can take multiple forms. While a few climbing related activities are aided and are carried out with the help of ropes and protection, some are invariably done without the use of ropes or protection.
Bouldering is a form of climbing which typically involves climbing short faces either indoors or outdoors. It requires a pair of climbing shoes and chalk. The only protection involved is a landing pad, generally referred to as a crashpad. Crashpads help reduce the impact of the fall on the ground. Bouldering routes are called “problems”. Boulderbox is a dedicated bouldering center.
Freesolo refers to a form of climbing wherein you climb without the use of any protection or rope. You’re on your own and the only thing you have is a pair of climbing shoes. For example: Alex Honhold free soloed the nearly 3000 foot granite wall called Elcapitan in Yosemite National Park. This was heralded as the greatest feat in the history of rock climbing.
As the name suggests, ice climbing involves climbing either on ice or snow. It is generally carried out outdoors using ropes, harness and protection. The system used is similar to rock climbing. Gear involved are ice axes, crampons and warm clothing etc.
Mountaineering involves climbing a mountain. It entails walking, scrambling as well as climbing on both rock and ice. The Himalayas are home to the youngest and the highest mountain systems in the world.
Unlike the name suggests, Free-climbing isn’t to be mistaken with free soloing. It’s different in that it involves using a rope and protection while climbing. It also involves a belayer who is in control of the rope and protects the climber from falling. Free-climbing is further divided into two kinds climbing:
1) Traditional climbing
2) Sport climbing
Traditional climbing involves using protection such as cams, nuts and other hardware that climbers use to place in walls or cracks. Using protection in the right manner helps climbers prevent falls. Delhi is fortunate enough to have a local crag in the Aravali range which developed in the 80s as a trad climbing area.
Sport Climbing involves climbing pre-bolted routes. Some of the rock faces have very little room for removable protection and hence are best explored with pre-bolted routes. Sport climbing also allows climbers to get on a route with a higher level of difficulty when compared to trad. In general, it’s also considered to be fun.
Some long climbs like the Dawn Wall on Yosemite’s El Capitan has 30 pitches. Which means the climb has to be broken into multiple pitches, 30 in this case. The lead climber leads the first pitch while using protection and then eventually sets up an anchor after the finish of the first pitch. The belayer then follows and is on belay with the rope held by the lead climber. Once the belayer meets the lead climber at the top of the first pitch, the lead climber then moves on to the second pitch.
As the name suggests, aid climbing involves using protection like cams, chocks and pitons but also an aider: a webbing ladder that is often used to pull oneself up on a rock rather than on rock itself. An aid climber may also use protection to pull himself up on a rock.
Deep Water Soloing
A form of climbing which involves climbing over a deep body of water. The water body should be deep enough to break a fall. One only needs a pair of climbing shoes and not much. It also depends on how accessible the water body is. .
*Please note that this is an informative piece on climbing and its sub-disciplines. Climbing is a dangerous activity and should be carried out with utmost safety. The article doesn't in any way encourage its readers to climb or practice any of its disciplines. Few images shared are a courtesy of creative common.