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Different Types of Indoor Rock Climbing

Learn about the different types of indoor rock climbing from climbing expert Cliff Simanski in this Howcast video.


When you come into a climbing gym there's three types of climbing that's available to you. One of them is known as bouldering. Bouldering is climbing without any ropes, without the harnesses. It's typically shorter length. Maybe anywhere from 10 feet up to 16, 17 feet and when you complete a boulder problem you would just fall back down to the floor, dropping onto a padded surface without having a rope and a belayer. None of those extras. It's just the climbing, isolating some typically shorter sequences, some harder moves. Oftentimes a lot of steeper terrain. Boudering's really powerful. It takes a lot of strength, a lot of technique. It's also a great way to get involved with the sport because you don't need a rope. You don't need a harness. You don't need a partner to boulder. So it's very social. A lot of folks like to boulder. It's kind of a great way to get introduced.

You also have what's known as top roping. Top roping is when the rope is already at the top of the climb for you so the belayer's at one end of the rope, the climber's at the other end and as the climber's moving up the wall, the belayer's taking all the slack in for them so that if the climber falls, they don't really fall down, they just kind of fall in place and that's known as top roping.

Another type of climbing would be lead climbing and lead climbing in a gym is going to be what's known as sport climbing. And this means you start with the rope tied to your harness at the bottom of the wall and as you're climbing up, you're bringing the rope with you, making your clips into each of these devices known as quick draws. So as you're progressing up, you make the clips as you're moving and every time you make a clip, you have the potential to fall to wherever the last clip is that you made. So whereas in top roping the rope is already up there for you, in lead climbing you're bringing it up as you climb. So you have the potential to take bigger falls. There's a little bit more technique involved in how to belay for a leader, how to fall as a leader, and just some general know how with how to make those clips safely. So a bit more advanced but a really great feature in a lot of climbing gyms.

So when you come in, consider trying all of them. Do some bouldering. Do some top roping. Try some lead climbing. They're all great. They're all fun. It's all climbing. That's what you can expect. Three types of climbing here in the gym.

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