Full width home advertisement





Post Page Advertisement [Top]

Alex Honnold has mastered the easiest form of climbing

Maybe that is a bit misleading...

Honnold has mastered the most visually understandable and accessible form of the sport. Alex and the now famous film Free Solo are household names.

The result? Even Gran gets climbing, in fact she sees it as natural and instinctive movement. Overlay Free Solo with a David Attenborough primate narration and her Sunday afternoons are complete.

Introduce ropes, knots and harnesses and the story changes, not just as an indicator of success, courage or maybe stupidity but also climbing style, ethics, elitism all intertwined with the sports great heritage.

Solo, Indoors, Outdoors, Sport, Trad, Bouldering, Big Walling, deep water soloing, granite, gritstone, limestone.

Should or does it matter? No, it’s all climbing, do them all, as long as they make you smile.

Here we cover the key terms for climbing style that a new and aspiring climber is likely to encounter in their early explorative steps. These are simply words but the style they describe have a full and valid part to play for all climbers regardless of ability.

Bottom roping

This is what most of us did when we first climbed, probably indoors but confusingly called “top roping”. Here everyone is on the ground at the start of the climb. The rope arcs up away from the climber, through an anchor at the top of the wall and back down to the belayer.

Everyone is on the ground which is great for group management, coaching movement and techniques, working a project E9 route and sharing beta with climbing partners.

If done outside it requires specialist rigging techniques, ropes and knowledge of gear placement and anchors. Learning these skills isn’t necessarily a part of the learning to becoming a lead climber or mountaineer.

Top roping

Here the belayer is sat and tied into the top of the crag. Everybody finishes at the top of the crag.

Different to lead climbing as the climbers walked to the top of the crag to rig the anchor first before a climber walks down to tie in and prepare to climb.

A friendly face at the top of the crag helps give scale and perspective to a nervous climber.

The rigging for the belayer can be the same as for lead climbers so this forms a key part of the learning journey towards lead climbing. All kit needed will be part of the lead climbers rack and only one type of rope required. (great investment)

Not great for communicating ideas for solving the problem.

If the coach is belaying or supervising a belayer then the climber is left to their own to crack the climb. Guide books are written and illustrated viewing the crag from the bottom. It is not unknown for people to rig a top rope down the wrong route.

Lead climbing

No ropes are attached to the rock before the climb begins. Both the climber and belayer start on the ground. As the climber ascends the rope is attached to the rock. If the climber is below the last attachment then the belayer works in the same way as bottom roping. As the climber moves above the attachment then the belayer pays rope out.

Freedom of the crags and mountains, high level of Adrenalin, scope for new routing,

Increased risk of falling and injury. More kit required. More knowledge needs to be acquired through training and personal experience.

Sport climbing

Indoors or outside climbers lead up the wall as above. The defining characteristic of sport climbing is that usable protection is already in place usually with bolt hangers that are suitably fixed to the crag at regular spaces. Indoors, the quick draws may already be in place. Outside is typically a BYO affair.

Minimal technical kit required. Learn indoors and quickly progress to outside sport crags with only a small amount of new training. Relatively safe. Permits harder routes to be done under relative safety.

Outside sport crags are only as safe as the quality of the anchors. Are they rusty and loose? You won’t know until you fall on it! In the UK a lot of sport climbing is limited to quarried faces so not always a picturesque day out.

Trad climbing

This is outside lead climbing but you won’t find bolt hangers here! The rock is eau natural, if you want to make it safer take kit up with you to place and wedge into the rock at suitable spacing.

Considered by some to be the purest form of climbing. Most relatable to advanced scrambling and mountaineering. No piece of rock is beyond the chalk coated paws of humans.

Cons: More kit and knowledge of it’s safe use required. Safety is directly related to the quality of the rock. Climbing ‘flow’ is slowed when compared to other styles.

Embrace all of the styles above but don’t be intimidated or pressured to attempt a climb outside your experience or comfort level.

Ignore the purists, if you want a bouldering mat under the start of your 1st or even 50th lead climb, that’s fine, do what gives you the most pleasure... the biggest smile wins!

The Author

This article has been written by Pure Outdoor Staff Member Oli 


A great day out on a Beginner Climbing Course last year

No comments:

Post a Comment

Bottom Ad [Post Page]