Rock Climbing

Types of Climbing

Indoor Sport Climbing. Takes place at a climbing gym or sports club. Some REI stores also offer a climbing wall or freestanding pinnacle where you can learn.

Indoor walls are designed with artificial hand and foot holds of varying sizes and placements across the wall to create routes of varying difficulty.

Advantages to indoor climbing

  • Convenient. Not everyone lives in a mountainous area and the U.S. offers many indoor climbing clubs and walls.
  • It provides a safe, controlled environment and skilled instructors for you to learn and practice.
  • You can climb year round.
  • Handholds and footholds are clearly visible.
  • You can try the sport with rented gear before buying your own.
  • There are routes for all levels of ability.

Outdoor Rock Climbing. Outdoor climbing offers more scenic beauty than indoor climbing, but it comes with additional risks. Outdoor climbing can be divided into several categories.

Bouldering. Is close-to-the-ground climbing without a rope, going only as high as you can fall without risking injury. It’s good for beginners who can move along the rock horizontally, parallel to the ground, and work on their basic skills without going high. Bouldering requires minimal equipment: climbing shoes, a crash pad (to cushion your jump or fall off the rock) and maybe a chalk bag. See the REI Expert Advice article, Bouldering, for more information.

Sport climbing. Involves traversing routes that have pre-placed anchors where you can attach your rope (just like with indoor climbing). Carabiners and quickdraws clip into the anchors and connect your rope to the rock. A “bolted” climb requires only a rope, quickdraws, shoes and a chalk bag. See the REI Expert Advice article, Sport Climbing Basics, for more information.

Traditional climbing. Uses a few permanent anchors. The lead climber chooses the route and places nuts or camming devices into the rock. The second climber removes the camming, and it’s re-used for further climbing. Carabiners and quickdraws are used to connect the rope into the protection. See the REI Expert Advice article, Traditional Climbing Basics, for more information.

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