Rock climbing is an extreme sport in which participants climb a rock face or along an area with several rock formations. Although it is quite similar to scrambling along rocks, the difference is in the height of the racks and the ascent to the top. The climber must be skilled in using his/her hands to take the weight of the body and to provide balance. It is a sport that tests a person’s strength, agility and endurance. Specialized training and equipment are needed before engaging in this sport.
It involves climbing a designated route with the use of one’s hands and feet. Simpler forms of rock climbing include bouldering, which means climbing a large boulder that is about 10 to 15 feet high. In higher climbs, there is an increased risk of injury and death if the climber happens to fall. Therefore there are specialized climbing techniques one should learn before attempting this sport.
Some of the climbing techniques used are:
- Heel hook – using the heel of the foot to maintain balance
- Toe hook – using the toes to balance on a ledge
- Campusing – using the power of the arms to hold one’s balance
- Jamming – jamming a part of the body into a small crack in the rock
- Grip – using various techniques of the arms, hands or feet to grip the rock
- Chimneying – climbing between opposing rock faces with the back against one face and the feet against another.
The types of equipment a person would use in rock climbing consists of:
Ropes, cord and webbing – dynamic ropes absorb the weight of a falling climber and static ropes are used as anchoring systems because they do not stretch as much.. A climber carries both kinds. Static ropes are used with hooks that the climber hammers into the rock and then pulls himself upward. The webbing protects the ropes from being frayed or cut by the rocks.
- Carbiners – these are aluminum hooks which the climber attaches to the rock and then the static ropes
- Quickdraw – a small hook through which a rope can run easily
- Harness – a prevention against falling that the climber usually wears around the waist
- Belay devices – mechanical brake devises a climber uses when falling
- Rappel devices - Friction brakes a climber uses when descending from the top of the climbing surface
Rock climbers also often wear helmets to protect themselves from falling rock.