Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet (or indeed any other part of the body) to ascend a steep object.
Indoor rock climbing takes the thrill and sense of achievement of the outdoor sport inside where the weather is always good, and the risks are dramatically reduced.
Indoor climbing gyms provide a controlled environment where almost anyone can make it to the top of the wall without hurting anything other than perhaps their pride.
There are 3 forms of climbing you're likely to find in a climbing gym:
- Top-Rope Climbing: A rope is attached at the top of the wall, with the two ends handing down. The climber ties one end to their harness, and the other end is held by their partner, who controls the rope for them to keep them safe as they climb. This is known as belaying. The belayer takes up slack in the rope as the climber goes up, so that if they fall they don't go very far. When the climber is done, the belayer gently lowers them to the padded floor. Climbing gyms typically teach beginners to belay safely in an introductory lesson that takes an hour or less.
- Lead Climbing: This is a more advanced form, in which the climber starts with the rope on the ground, one end tied to their harness. As the climber goes up the wall they clip their rope through carabiners that are attached to the wall. The belayer is still there to manage the rope and catch the climber if they fall. Lead climbing requires more strength and endurance, and allows climbers to explore very steep terrain where a top-rope could not safely be attached. Lead climbing requires a fair bit of climbing experience, and several hours of additional instruction.
- Bouldering: This is low climbing without ropes. Bouldering walls typically go up to 14-16 feet high, with thicker padding to protect against a fall. Bouldering requires no rope or harness, and generally involves shorter sequences of moves that require more power than a route on a roped wall.
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