are two primary types of rock climbing: indoor climbing and outdoor climbing. I
will be primarily be focusing on the outdoor aspect of rock climbing.
the arena of outdoor climbing, there are two primary categories of climbing:
sport climbing and traditional climbing (also referred to as ‘trad’ climbing).
? Sport climbing
Sport climbing is performed on predefined routes where
the participant does not have to place their own ‘protection’. In turn this
makes it so sport climbing can be accessible to beginners of the sport, because
there does not need to necessarily be specialized knowledge of how to place
‘protection’ (i.e. ‘cams’ and ‘hex’s’) due to there being pre-placed bolts
along the route that have metal hangers (for the participant to clip their
harness into). Sport climbing also tends to have a higher intensity than that
of ‘trad’ climbing due to the main goal of sport climbing being the physical
aspects rather than the goal in ‘trad’ climbing, being reaching a specific
destination (e.g. the summit). Therefore, although sport climbing can be more
accessible for beginners, it is also less accessible to people with lower
Since bolts are pre-placed in the routes for sport
climbing, not only does it decrease potential cost for beginners to the sport,
as they do not need to purchase/rent the otherwise required ‘protection’
equipment, it then ensures the preplaced route is clearly marked out thereby
making it so even beginners can partake in the sport safely and confidently navigate
through the course.
There are five subcategories of sport climbing
designed around the skillset of the participant involved. These subcategories
are rated with a number, 5.0; being considered ‘easy’, ranging up to 5.15;
being considered ‘very difficult’. Sport climbing routes that are rated between
5.0 and 5.4 are aimed more towards the beginner as they tend to be more of a
steep incline, making it difficult to fall, and with much larger handholds and
footholds, thereby making it so they do not have to had mastered foot and hand
placement before taking part. On the exact opposite of the spectrum, routes
rated between 5.13 and 5.15 are considered to extremely strenuous and tedious,
meaning that only people with abnormally high levels of fitness would be able
to complete the routes. These routes are considered to be very difficult and
are aimed at participants who have mastered everything there is to learn about
the sport and also have a significantly higher natural ability than anybody
else. This is because the routes usually take place on vertical inclines, where
any wrong move will lead to a potentially life threatening fall, with very
technical parts. The handholds and footholds, in the range of difficulty of
route, are extremely small and thus requires the participant to have both an
above-par grip and an astronomically high level of patience.
Although equipment for ‘protection’ is not required in
sport climbing courses, the participant still needs to provide/rent seven
pieces of equipment: a rope (a sixty meter rope is usually sufficient but in
some modern routes a seventy meter rope may be required), harness (although it
can be any sturdy harness, a padded harness is recommended for beginners of
sport climbing as it is expected for the participant to fall frequently), shoes
(climbing shoes), quick draws (to attach to the pre-placed bolts), helmet (so
you don’t hurt your head if you were to fall), chalk (to ensure you maintain
friction on your hands by drying up the oils produced by your skin) and a chalk
bag (to store the chalk). And in turn, to be able to participate in sport
climbing, the participant would need to, at the very least, understand the
basics of the equipment.
? Traditional (Trad) Climbing
Whereas sport climbing takes place on pre-planned
routes with pre-installed safety equipment, trad climbing takes place primarily
on routes that the participant has mapped out. In turn, the participant also
has to place their own protection. This in turn means that the participant has
to have learned more skills and techniques before participating in this
activity. ‘Trad’ climbing, as it is seen today is the way climbing was
performed in the past (1980’s), where it was simply referred to a climbing. It
received its own specific name once sport climbing took off and a
differentiation between the climbing types had to be created.
‘Trad’ climbing also requires more technical knowledge
of climbing and the skill of route-mapping, and using and making anchors. The
greatly differs to sport climbing where you primarily use quick-draws alone in
order to attach yourself to pre-placed bolts.
Before the participant can embark in ‘trad’ climbing,
they must first learn how to perform route-finding, as in ‘trad’ climbing, the
route to the destination is, more times than not, unplanned by the organization
providing the climbing experience.
‘Trad’ climbing also requires more tactics as, in
order to prevent damage to their equipment, participants of ‘trad’ climbing
tend to be more careful and try to fall infrequently as falling applies a lot
of stress to the equipment, and climbing protection is quite expensive.
There are two distinct types of protection used by
participants of ‘trad’ climbing: passive protection and active protection.
Passive protection comes in two basic forms: cams and
wedges. Wedges are pieces of metal that are usually attached on a piece of
wire, which are tapered in such a way which allows them to be inserted behind a
crack in a rock face. Cam’s on the other hand, are more rounded and tend to be
twisted and are used to jam into hard to reach places.
Active protection, or spring loaded cams, have three
or four curved cams that are designed to pull inwards when the trigger of the
device is pulled. Once the device is released, the device expands into the
crack of the rock face. If the device is correctly positioned, even the
heaviest of shock loads is applied, will not come loose.
Knowing how to use this essential skill is vital for
the participant to be able to not get hurt. It is essential for beginners to
learn how to make solid anchor points with their protection equipment before
embarking in ‘trad’ climbing.
Once learning the basics of how to use the protection
equipment, it is ideal for beginners to attempt short, easy pitches before
embarking on much longer routes.
of the type of climbing that is performed, certain skills and techniques must
be learned and followed. It is in the interest of the participants’ safety to
be able perform certain skills efficiently. An example of a skill that would be
advantageous to have practiced before partaking in rock climbing would be knot
tying. A figure-eight and fisherman’s knot would be used to secure and attach
the lead rope to the belayer’s climbing harness. If this knot is done
incorrectly, than it could cause the rope to become detached from the lead
climber, effectively making any protection equipment useless.
skill that the participant of rock climbing would need to learn before
embarking on an expedition would be how to belay the rope to their partner.
Although this skill is less important for participants who are new to the
activity, as it is unlikely for them to be taking the lead climbers position,
it is still an important skill to have trained in for when they become more
familiar with the sport. If the lead climber is unfamiliar with belaying than
if the secondary climber were to fall, the rope may have too much slack and
would make it more likely for both the lead and secondary to fall, as a higher
fall means a larger impact force on the protection gear. If the force is great
enough it may dislodge any protection that the participants have placed (‘trad’
climbing only) may come undone from the surface of the rock face, meaning both
the lead and secondary climber would fall leading to a potential fatality (if
the route reaches a high enough altitude).
Belaying would ensure that the rope would remain taught at all times, meaning
that any fall would be reduced, and in turn ensure that the protection remains
sturdy, thereby preventing any possible injuries.
the participant reaches a certain level of proficiency, they may start to move
onto more advanced skills and techniques. An example of an advance skill would
be route mapping. Whilst beginners usually start rock climbing using
predetermined routes that have a predetermined difficulty ranking, once the
participant becomes more proficient at climbing they can start to map their own
mapping can be challenging as you can never fully determine how hard it will
be, or if you are able to finish it. This is because routes mapped out by the
participant themselves are not checked by rock climbing providers, thus the
participant can never be sure of whether previous handholds and footholds still
exist. Although this makes the activity dangerous, it also increases the
challenge involved in performing the climb as it makes it so the participant
has to constantly think on their feet to ensure that they remain in a safe
position. Route mapping is aimed entirely at experienced climbers that have a
strong understanding of basic climbing.
participating in this sport the participant must have a minimum requirement of
fitness. Repeatedly pulling up your own body weight up, or holding yourself in
place long enough to plan your next move, can become strenuous very quickly on
muscles that are not trained to be used to that level of muscular endurance.
addition, it would be advantageous to have obtained an average flexibility
before embarking on this activity. Although flexibility is less important than
muscular endurance, a decent level of flexibility would be advantageous as it
would allow you to be able to move from point to point easier than someone with
are some general skills that would be advantageous to learn before partaking in
rock climbing. An example of one of these general skills would be weather
forecasting as it is very important for the participant to know what the
weather conditions are in the region of their chosen route. Making a mistake
with weather forecasting can have dire consequences for the participant
involved as the weather may cause them to become stranded outside. An example
of this would be if it started to rain a lot, it may make the rock face become
slippery and make it impossible to progress, or go back: leaving the
participant in an awkward situation.
i will be discussing mountain biking and some of the skills and techniques
required to partake in mountain biking.
starting mountain biking, the participant must first know how to how to perform
the basic skills and techniques of the sport. Here i will be outlining some of
those required skills.
? Breaking: Although breaking can be
done by exclusively using the back break, effective breaking can require some
practice. When breaking you have to considering which break to pull and how
much. Remembering that the more weight a tire carries, the more potential
braking power it has. This is because it has more pressure into the ground,
making it less likely to skid, or come away from the ground. When going
downhill, your front wheel carries more weight than the back wheel: therefore
by gently squeezing the front brake, it can help you control and manage the
speed you are going. But you should be careful not to squeeze the front brake
too hard because it may cause the front wheel to lock off and in turn cause you
to be thrown over the handlebars.
? Going uphill: Before going uphill it is
advantageous to enter a lower gear. This will make it easier to pedal, making
it less strenuous. Before changing into a lower gear, remember to ease up on
your pedaling as this will lower the pressure on the chain. Don’t just use one
set gear for inclines, different types of terrain may make it so higher/lower
gears are better for that particular incline. Through practice over time you
will be able to find out what is best for you.
Whilst going uphill, it is also advantageous to stay
seated. Although standing usually helps you climb a steep hill with a road
bike, but in most cases, you will find that on dirt, standing will cause the
rear tire to lose its grip and spin out. Climbing up a hill requires traction,
so stay seated as long as possible.
? Going downhill: When going downhill, it is
most of all important to relax. Ensure you don’t lock up your elbows or clench
up your grip. If you lock your elbows, than you won’t be able to absorb any
shocks or impacts as easily. Although you shouldn’t grip too tightly onto the
handlebars, you should remember to maintain a strong grip of the handlebars in
order to maintain stability.
Mountain biking downhill can be comparable to that of downhill skiing,
in order to steer efficiently, you need to steer using body weight. By shifting
your body weight in one direction, the direction of the bike should follow.
Also, in many cases you will automatically lean slightly into that direction,
making it seem that the bike is going in the same direction of where you look.
Therefore, always focus on where you want to go. A good quote from Active.com states that: “You should not think so much about steering but the
direction in which you wish to go”. If you try and use the handlebars to steer whilst
travelling at a high speed, it will more than likely cause you over steer and lose
Finally, whilst going downhill, it is important to stand above the
saddle. This will make it so your legs can absorb most of the shock, instead of
it all being absorbed by your posterior, and in turn your spine.
Cornering: When cornering, there is a golden rule that will make the process
significantly easier. The rule is to always look ahead. It is a very easy skill
to gain, but even easier to let slip. Looking ahead can really make a
phasimable difference. When you look ahead around the corner, this will cause
you to twist your shoulders slightly, thereby moving your arms and in turn the
handlebars. This will therefore make it feel like it has almost guided the bike
around the corner.
Before taking partaking in the world of
mountain biking, you must consider some of the more generic skills and
knowledge that you may need. An example of this would be: how to check the
upcoming weather forecast for the day you are going to embark in the sport.
This is important as if you know it is going to rain in advance of it
happening, you will be able to dress accordingly. Another generic ability that
could be helpful is risk assessment development. By creating a risk assessment,
you will assess all the risks of mountain biking on your chosen route and how
to efficiently avoid them. An example would be, if you recognized that the
route you were going to take was rocky, you could wear shin and elbow pads in
order to prevent grazing and bruising.
Mountain biking does not require the
participant to attain the same level of fitness as an athlete, but an average
level of muscular endurance would be advisable. This is because if you are
halfway through a course and run out of energy, it can be a long way from any
roads. Meaning you may become stranded until you regain your breath.