3 Ways to "Climb Every Mountain"
Photo credit: Trade Ready
Climbing as both a sport and an art form has been around for many years. As long as people have been gawking at the peaks in front of them they have been attempting to summit them. Rock climbing is an excellent form of physical activity, activating and strengthening nearly every muscle group in the body. Some forms of mountain climbing even take you to the edge of human capability. From scaling the sides of sheer cliff faces, to ice climbing at incredible heights, the world of climbing can get pretty much as extreme as one would like to go. For those that would like to make the first foray into climbing but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. There are three main types of climbing (with infinite subcategories) that we’ll outline for you.
Bouldering and Scrambling
Bouldering refers to free climbing at low heights, generally without the use of most climbing equipment. If you’ve ever seen people doing indoor rock climbing, by clinging onto small, colorful hand holds on an imitation rock wall, this is bouldering. In these cases people usually follow a delineated path along these fake rock walls. Bouldering can also be done outdoors. It still refers to the act of using small handholds and footholds found along the sides of lowliying rock faces.
Scrambling is an equally fun and easy way to get involved with rock climbing. Scrambling is a form of free climbing where you are scaling boulders, either by finding footholds or by hopping from boulder to boulder. These routes, too, can range in difficulty, but since you are rather close to the ground, its a safe way to get started with the sport. You can even start by scrambling and bouldering anywhere there are big rocks near you. If you’re going on a hike and choose to climb up on some boulders for better views, you’re technically already scrambling.
To properly enjoy bouldering and scrambling you will need a bit of protective gear. Climbing shoes are extremely helpful (and non-optional at most climbing gyms). Climbing shoes have good grips at the bottoms, are very flexible to allow access into rock crevices, and are far far tighter than any other shoes you’ve worn. It’s also smart to carry powdered chalk with you, since this gives better traction to your hands as you cling onto rocks and handholds. For those that like to scramble in nature, it’s common to bring a crash pad with you. A crash pad is a large foam mat that you lay beneath the rocks you’re climbing so that, should you lose your footing, your fall is padded.
Traditional rock climbing is a beloved sport in many cultures. This particular variety is about as wide ranging as the sport itself. Traditional rock climbing includes harnesses, Bekays, and equipment to make your climb safer. When rock climbing in this fashion, there is usually a route already built into the rock face. The first person to ever achieve completion of a specific route has equipped it with anchors for future climbers. These anchors are often drilled directly into rock face and allow you to attach your harness into them as you climb. These anchors may be around 15 feet apart from one another. They make it so that each time you climb high enough to reach one, you hook your Carabiner in. the Carabiner is a metal hold attached to your full harness. This means that, in the event that you fall from the rock, you only fall as far as the next anchor.
Just because a route has tried and true anchors doesn’t mean that it is a danger free sport. There are a number of hazards you may encounter when choosing to climb in this fashion. We recommend the use of helmets. If you fall (even if it’s just to the next anchor below you), you run the risk of slapping the side of the rock face with your body and your head.
Free climbing is, bar none, the most extreme way to interact with a rock face. In this method of climbing you are simply scaling the side of a mountain with nothing but your two hands and two feet. This means that, regardless of how high you climb, there is nothing to break your fall if you miss a step. Even with all of these utterly insane safety risks, there are still those that choose to hurl themselves up a sheer rock face and hope for the best.
One of the most famous free climbers is Alex Honnold, one of the pioneers of modern free climbing in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is renowned for having some of the most daunting cliff faces in the climbing world. So, what better arena to master for Alex than right there. He has scaled one of the most daunting mountains, El Capitan, in a mere matter of hours. This means that he raced up a rock face, several thousand feet into the air, with nothing to protect him from falling. These types of climbers often use the least amount of safety equipment and are engaging in the most wildly dangerous form of climbing. Regardless of your level of climbing prowess, we do not recommend ever choosing to forego all safety equipment.
But we DO recommend that you #GetOutThereAndDoSomething today!