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Types of Climbing

The Categories and Styles of Climbing

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Types of Climbing

Pascal Robert climbing "Surfing With the Alien" at Elevenmile Canyon, Colorado.

Photo © Stewart M. Green

Types of Climbing

Climbing naturally divides into several distinct categories, with each using its own particular techniques, tools, and environments.

  1. Rock Climbing divides into three separate disciplines: traditional climbing, sport climbing, and bouldering.

  2. Traditional Climbing is the art of ascending rock walls that are protected with gear that is both placed and removed by the climbing party.

  3. Sport Climbing, using permanent anchors placed in rock, is a climbing style that emphasizes gymnastic movement, difficulty, and safety.

  4. Bouldering is the ropeless pursuit of short difficult problems on boulders and small cliffs.

  5. Top-Rope Climbing is scaling both cliffs and artificial walls with the safety rope always anchored above, creating a safe environment and minimal risk.

  6. Aid Climbing is ascending steep rock faces with the use of specialized climbing equipment that allows mechanical upward progress rather than free climbing with hands and feet.

  7. Indoor Climbing is climbing preplaced hand and foot holds that are bolted on artificial walls at indoor climbing gyms.

  8. Mountaineering is climbing mountain peaks from the Rockies to the Himalayas using both rock and ice climbing skills.

  9. Ice Climbing is the chilly winter pastime of scaling frozen waterfalls and icy gullies using crampons and ice tools.

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