Not sure…what is climbing?

What is climbing?

As straight forward it is, climbing is moving up using hands and feet majorly. It can be done on natural formations or artificial structures to reach to the top. It is now officially one of the major adventure activity all over the world. It is a full-fledged sport testing your physical and mental strength. For me, it is like dancing on rocks!

Climbing was mainly involved as an activity involved in military operations. Later, it became popular as an adventurous sport and also got recognition as a sports event.  Based on what are you climbing upon there are different kinds of climbing

Kinds of climbing

bouldering in
Rock climbing
  1. Rock climbing: This is the most popular form of climbing where one using hands and feet ascend rock faces, rock walls, big boulders or artificial structures. The height of rocks/walls may vary from 8 feet to some 100 meters. The climber slowly goes up until the top of the wall or summit is reached. Safety equipment like rope, crash pads, carabiner etc are used to secure one’s fall.

    An ice climber navigates between rocks
    Ice climbing
  2. Ice climbing: This is a form climbing involved ascending big ice walls or frozen waterfalls. The techniques are quite as compared to the rock climbing. Usually, crampons, ice-axes, ice shoes are involved to help one climb.

  3. Mountaineering: This is the combination of the above 2 climbs and overcoming all the hurdles through rock climbing, ice-climbing, getting roped, trekking to reach to the summit of the mountain. It also involves hiking and trekking. Although, you may consider climbing as a subset of mountaineering, climbing itself is a full-blown adventurous sport. And right, both are not the same!

Natural vs Artificial climbing

Now that we are clear with all the terms, let us see what it is like climbing on natural formations and climbing on artificial infrastructures.

Crimp line on a boulder

Natural Climbing: It is done on natural resources like mountains, rock faces, walls, pinnacles, boulders etc. It is like curating a route to the top by using the naturally formed holds. All kinds of holds like crimp, pockets, cracks all of them are naturally curated, we as climbers only use them. You might hear climbers saying this form as Outdoor climbing. Mostly, friction holds are used as footholds to stand on the rock face. Equipment is used for safety by bolting hangers as anchors. Sometimes, trees, boulders are also used as an anchor to tie the safety rope. I shall talk more about anchors in upcoming posts.

Artificial wall (climbing gym)

Artificial Climbing: As you might have already guessed, climbing on artificial, plastic, fibre holds attached on huge panels is artificial climbing. It is popularly called Sports Climbing. This form is used for competitions. Different formations are constructed to imitate the natural rock formations. Commonly known as Indoor climbing, it is used by mountaineers and professional climbers to train for their outdoor climbing projects. In India Sports climbing is managed by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) and competitions are held under it.

Types of Rock climbing (Sports climbing)

  1. Bouldering
  2. Top rope
  3. Lead climbing
  4. Speed climbing


Let’s all climb together!

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