Types Of Rock Climbing

5 Basic Types Of Rock Climbing

The most exciting activities in life are often those releasing adrenaline and pushing us beyond our comfort zone. Thus, revealing to us abilities and spontaneous actions we never knew we are capable of.

Several of such activities exist, but one of these activities, rock climbing, is our focus today. There are different types of rock climbing. Read on to know more.

The art of rock climbing is as old as human existence. Fuelled by the passion and longing overcome various challenges, figurative and literal, humans have embraced the art of rock climbing, not only for the fun of it but also for sports.

With several rocks scattered around the globe, each unique in its way. Some of these rocks are riddled with fissures and cracks, fundamental to the climb’s difficulty.

Rock climbing has been embraced in every part of the world. In the western world, rock climbing has transitioned from just an adventurous and exhilarating task to sports activities, which millions have embraced.

A 2018 article by the British daily newspaper, The Guardian, revealed that the International Federation of Sport Climbing estimated the number of sports climbers worldwide in 2015 to be 35 million.

Whether it’s the minimal Rosh indoor climbing, bouldering problems, or outdoor climbing for experienced hands, rock climbing is fast becoming a part of our lives.

We’ll review everything you need to know about rock climbing history, equipment, and the various types of rock climbing in this article.

Types of Rock Climbing

Initially, when rock climbing began as a sport in the late 19ty century, it was strictly an outdoor activity. But with the passage of time and the adoption into the western world, rock climbing has taken different forms.

What are the different types of rock climbing? We’ll review the various types of rock climbing that exists today.

1. Indoor climbing

One of the most popular forms of rock climbing, indoor climbing, is often the first sort of climbing individuals new to rock climbing embrace.

Usually set in a climbing gym, the climbing route features woods and bolts, which serves as a replacement to the fissures and cracks on a rock.

In this form of climbing, climbers are equipped with ropes and belay equipment, which gives a close insight into the excitement of climbing on actual rock.

2. Bouldering

A form of rock climbing, which is widely embraced, bouldering requires little to no climbing experience or skill, which is the primary reason why it is one of the most common forks of rock climbing. Typically meant for beginner rock climbers.

A bouldering route causes problems, the bouldering imitation to the cracks and fissures seen on the actual rock. With no equipment, climbers can ascend as high as possible.

Bouldering ranks as one of the safest forms of rock climbing as dense crash pads surround the Boulder route, which protects climbers from injuries in any event of a crash.

Bouldering may seem easy, but that depends mainly on the nature of the bouldering routes.

Bouldering routes come with various difficulty levels, which are revealed by the different grading systems in rock climbing.

3. Outdoor Top-Rope Climbing

Similar to the climbing embraced by Walter Parry Haskett Smith, the father of rock climbing, outdoor top-rope climbing involves climbing rigorous climbing terrains with the luxury and help of climbing gears as protective gear.

In this climb, the climbing rope is solidly anchored at the top of the climbing route. Two people are usually involved in this type of rock climbing as it ranks as the most dangerous form of rock climbing.

Aside from the climber, the other climber, often known as a belayer, which is usually an experienced climber, pulls the slack as the cover progress and hold the rope in the unfortunate event of a fall.

Depending on the weight of the climber, a ground anchor is often used. The belayer in top rock climbing plays a critical role in climbers’ safety as the climber’s life depends on his actions.

4. Traditional Climbing

The closet type of climbing, which bears similarity to the climbing widely embraced in the late 19th century and early 20th century, Traditional climbing involved less protective gear than outdoor top-rope climbing.

Climbers rely heavily on their climbing experience and skills. In this form of climbing, climbers are in a group, with the lead climber placing protection such as damming deices in various cracks and fissures.

The main objective of traditional climbing is ascent and not speed.

5. Outdoor Sports Climbing

This type of sports climbing is a derivative of top-rope climbing and traditional rock climbing. The climbing route is often equipped with bolts and clips to enable quick ascension.

As revealed by its name, the purpose of the climb is speed.

Rock Climbing: Brief History

As with any sports, pinpointing the exact time in history where the sports’ very art began is a tricky task. Most likely, there would have been undocumented accounts of individuals who have undertaken the art of rock climbing for the pure purpose of recreation in history.

Paintings, a vital tool that gives insight to humans that have come before us, depicts Chinese men climbing rock, as far back as 200 B.C.

However, rock climbing took a massive leap in the number of participants in the 19th century after Walter Parry Haskett Smith, famously known as the father of rock climbing, successfully climbed the Naples Needle.

This was an outstanding feat for rock climbing, known to few people, as Walter Parry Haskett Smith did not have the luxury of protective gear but had to rely on his strength and skills. The inborn human desire also motivated others to embrace rick climbing.

A precise instance is the case of Welsh climber, O. G. Jones, who successfully climbed the Kern Knotts Crack, after setting his eyes on a picture of the Naples Needle in a shop in 1890.

While Smith and Jones’s action motivated others, with limited means of passing information, rock climbing art remained unknown to many individuals. But as it with human nature, nothing remains a secret for long.

The action of Georg Winkler, a 17-year-old, who successfully climbed the Die Vajolettürme, spread the gospel of rock climbing to the Dolomites.

By 1892, bouldering competitions already existed, such as the ones organized by Oscar Eckenstein, the brains behind the crampon’s invention. The 20th century saw the rapid rise of rock climbing, which had firmly established itself in the western world.

The progress of rock climbing from the late 19th century to the 21st century also saw the grading system’s evolution of climbing routes, which fates as far back as the 19th century.

Though rock climbing was widely embraced, its acceptance into the modern-day culture as a sport and not just an adventurous art proved too tedious.

In 2016, rock climbing enthusiasts triumphed after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared that it would be regarded as a medal sport in the next Olympics.

Equipment in Rock Climbing

Depending on the type of rock climbing to be embraced, there are several types of rock climbing equipment. Listed below are a few.

1. Chalk

2. Belay Device

3. Harness

4. Screw-Lock Carabiner

5. Helmet

6. Climbing shoes.

7. Crashpads

8. Taut rope.


Please let us know your thoughts on these types of rock climbing in the comments section below.

See more Guide To Best Belay Devices: How to choose7 Ultimate Rock Climbing Equipment List: What Gear Do I Need? and 10 Best Rock Climbing Places & Spots In The U.S.