Climbing is the activity of using one's hands, feet, or any other part of the body to ascend a steep topographical object. It is done for locomotion, recreation and competition, and within trades that rely on ascension; such as emergency rescue and military operations. It is done indoors and out, on natural and man-made structures.
Professional mountain guides or rock climbing guides, such as members of the IFMGA, have been known to be a historically significant element of developing the popularity of the sport in the natural environment, and remain so today.
Climbing activities include:
Rock, ice and tree climbing all usually utilize ropes for safety or aid. Pole climbing and rope climbing were among the first exercises to be included in the origins of modern gymnastics in the late 18th century and early 19th century.
Abseiling (/ˈæbseɪl/ or /ˈɑːpzaɪl/; from German abseilen, 'to rope down'), also known as rappelling (/ɹæˈpɛl/ or /ɹəˈpɛl/) from French rappeler, 'to recall' or 'to pull through'), is a controlled descent off a vertical drop, such as a rock face, using a rope.
This technique is used by climbers, mountaineers, cavers, canyoners, search and rescue and rope access technicians to descend cliffs or slopes when they are too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection. Many climbers use this technique to protect established anchors from damage. Rope access technicians also use this as a method to access difficult-to-reach areas from above for various industrial applications like maintenance, construction, inspection and welding.To descend safely, abseilers use a variety of techniques to increase the friction on the rope to the point where it can be controlled comfortably. These techniques range from wrapping the rope around their body (e.g. The Dülfersitz) to using a custom built device like a rack. Practitioners choose a technique based on speed, safety, weight and other circumstantial concerns.
In the United States, the term "rappelling" is used nearly exclusively. In the United Kingdom, both terms are understood, but "abseiling" is strongly preferred. In Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the two terms are used interchangeably. Globally, the term "rappelling" appears in books written in English more often than "abseiling".Arboreal locomotion
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some animals may scale trees only occasionally, but others are exclusively arboreal. The habitats pose numerous mechanical challenges to animals moving through them and lead to a variety of anatomical, behavioral and ecological consequences as well as variations throughout different species. Furthermore, many of these same principles may be applied to climbing without trees, such as on rock piles or mountains.
The earliest known tetrapod with specializations that adapted it for climbing trees was Suminia, a synapsid of the Late Permian, about 260 million years ago.Some animals are exclusively arboreal in habitat, such as the tree snail.Bouldering
Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is performed on small rock formations or artificial rock walls, known as boulders, without the use of ropes or harnesses. While it can be done without any equipment, most climbers use climbing shoes to help secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry and provide a firmer grip, and bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls. Unlike free solo climbing, which is also performed without ropes, bouldering problems (the sequence of moves that a climber performs to complete the climb) are usually less than 6 meters (20 ft.) tall. Traverses, which are a form of boulder problem, require the climber to climb horizontally from one end to another. Artificial climbing walls allow boulderers to train indoors in areas without natural boulders. In addition, Bouldering competitions take place in both indoor and outdoor settings.The sport originally was a method of training for roped climbs and mountaineering, so climbers could practice specific moves at a safe distance from the ground. Additionally, the sport served to build stamina and increase finger strength. Throughout the 1900s, bouldering evolved into a separate discipline. Individual problems are assigned ratings based on difficulty. Although there have been various rating systems used throughout the history of bouldering, modern problems usually use either the V-scale or the Fontainebleau scale.
The growing popularity of bouldering has caused several environmental concerns, including soil erosion and trampled vegetation as climbers hike off-trail to reach bouldering sites. This has caused some landowners to restrict access or prohibit bouldering altogether.Climbing wall
A climbing wall is an artificially constructed wall with grips for hands and feet, usually used for indoor climbing, but sometimes located outdoors. Some are brick or wooden constructions, but on most modern walls, the material most often used is a thick multiplex board with holes drilled into it. Recently, manufactured steel and aluminum have also been used. The wall may have places to attach belay ropes, but may also be used to practise lead climbing or bouldering.
Each hole contains a specially formed t-nut to allow modular climbing holds to be screwed onto the wall. With manufactured steel or aluminum walls, an engineered industrial fastener is used to secure climbing holds. The face of the multiplex board climbing surface is covered with textured products including concrete and paint or polyurethane loaded with sand. In addition to the textured surface and hand holds, the wall may contain surface structures such as indentions (incuts) and protrusions (bulges), or take the form of an overhang, underhang or crack.
Some grips are formed to mimic the conditions of outdoor rock, including some that are oversized and can have other grips bolted onto them.El Capitan
El Capitan (Spanish: El Capitán; The Captain or The Chief), also known as El Cap, is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith is about 3,000 feet (914 m) from base to summit along its tallest face, and is a popular objective for rock climbers.
The formation was named "El Capitan" by the Mariposa Battalion when they explored the valley in 1851. El Capitan ("the captain", "the chief") was taken to be a loose Spanish translation of the local Native American name for the cliff, variously transcribed as "To-to-kon oo-lah" or "To-tock-ah-noo-lah" (Miwok language). It is unclear if the Native American name referred to a specific tribal chief or simply meant "the chief" or "rock chief".The top of El Capitan can be reached by hiking out of Yosemite Valley on the trail next to Yosemite Falls, then proceeding west. For climbers, the challenge is to climb up the sheer granite face. There are many named climbing routes, all of them arduous, including Iron Hawk and Sea of Dreams.First ascent
In mountaineering, a first ascent (abbreviated to FA in guidebooks) is the first successful, documented attainment of the top of a mountain, or the first to follow a particular climbing route. First mountain ascents are notable because they entail genuine exploration, with greater risks, challenges, and recognition than climbing a route pioneered by others. The person who performs the first ascent is called the first ascensionist.
In free climbing, a first ascent (or first free ascent, abbreviated FFA) of a climbing route is the first successful, documented climb of a route without using equipment such as anchors or ropes for aiding progression or resting.Free solo climbing
Free solo climbing or free soloing, is a form of rock climbing where the climber (or free soloist) performs a climb alone without ropes, harnesses or other protective equipment, forcing them to rely entirely on their own individual strength and skill. Free soloing is the most dangerous form of rock climbing, and unlike bouldering, free soloists climb above safe heights where a fall would result in serious injury or death.In 1869, John Muir became the first recorded person to do an on-sight free solo, when he ascended Cathedral Peak in Yosemite National Park. Many climbers have since attempted free soloing, although it is considered "a niche of a niche" reserved for the sport's elite, which has led many practitioners to stardom within both the media and the sport of climbing.Glossary of climbing terms
This page describes terms and jargon related to climbing and mountaineering.
These terms can vary considerably between different English-speaking countries, so phrases described here may be particularly specific to, for example, the US and UK.Grade (climbing)
In rock climbing, mountaineering, and other climbing disciplines, climbers give a grade to a climbing route or boulder problem, intended to describe concisely the difficulty and danger of climbing it. Different types of climbing (such as sport climbing, bouldering or ice climbing) each have their own grading systems, and many nationalities developed their own, distinctive grading systems.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the difficulty of a climb, including the technical difficulty of the moves, the strength, stamina and level of commitment required, and the difficulty of protecting the climber. Different grading systems consider these factors in different ways, so no two grading systems have an exact one-to-one correspondence.
Climbing grades are inherently subjective. They may be the opinion of one or a few climbers, often the first ascensionist or the author(s) of a guidebook. A grade for an individual route also may be a consensus reached by many climbers who have climbed the route. While grades are usually applied fairly consistently across a climbing area, there are often perceived differences between grading at different climbing areas. Because of these variables, a given climber might find a route to be either easier or more difficult than expected for the grade applied.Hillclimbing
Hillclimbing (also known as hill climbing, speed hillclimbing or speed hill climbing) is a branch of motorsport in which drivers compete against the clock to complete an uphill course.
It is one of the oldest forms of motorsport, since the first known hillclimb at La Turbie near Nice, France took place as long ago as 31 January 1897. The hillclimb held at Shelsley Walsh, in Worcestershire, England is the world's oldest continuously staged motorsport event still staged on its original course, having been first run in 1905.An alternative style of hillclimbing is done with offroad motorcycles going straight up extremely steep hills, with the victor being the motorcycle which can climb the highest, or make it to the top the fastest. The motorsport has a long tradition in the U.S. and has been popular in France and Austria since the 1980s. The Austrian event in Rachau focused on crowd entertainment, and inspired many similar events.Ice climbing
Ice climbing is the activity of ascending inclined ice formations. Usually, ice climbing refers to roped and protected climbing of features such as icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice refrozen from flows of water. For the purposes of climbing, ice can be broadly divided into two spheres, alpine ice and water ice. Alpine ice is found in a mountain environment, usually requires an approach to reach, and is often climbed in an attempt to summit a mountain. Water ice is usually found on a cliff or other outcropping beneath water flows. Alpine ice is frozen precipitation whereas water ice is a frozen liquid flow of water. Most alpine ice is generally one component of a longer route and often less technical, having more in common with standard glacier travel, while water ice is selected largely for its technical challenge. Technical grade is, however, independent of ice type and both types of ice vary greatly in consistency according to weather conditions. Ice can be soft, hard, brittle or tough. Mixed climbing is ascent involving both ice climbing and rock climbing.Mount Everest
Mount Everest, known in Nepali as Sagarmatha (सगरमाथा), in Tibetan as Chomolungma (ཇོ་མོ་གླང་མ) and in Chinese as Zhumulangma (珠穆朗玛), is Earth's highest mountain above sea level, located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas. The international border between Nepal (Province No. 1) and China (Tibet Autonomous Region) runs across its summit point.
The current official elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft), recognized by China and Nepal, was established by a 1955 Indian survey and subsequently confirmed by a Chinese survey in 1975. In 2005, China remeasured the rock height of the mountain, with a result of 8844.43 m (29,017 ft). There followed an argument between China and Nepal as to whether the official height should be the rock height (8,844 m, China) or the snow height (8,848 m, Nepal). In 2010, an agreement was reached by both sides that the height of Everest is 8,848 m, and Nepal recognizes China's claim that the rock height of Everest is 8,844 m.In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society, upon a recommendation by Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India. As there appeared to be several different local names, Waugh chose to name the mountain after his predecessor in the post, Sir George Everest, despite Everest's objections.Mount Everest attracts many climbers, some of them highly experienced mountaineers. There are two main climbing routes, one approaching the summit from the southeast in Nepal (known as the "standard route") and the other from the north in Tibet. While not posing substantial technical climbing challenges on the standard route, Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, weather, and wind, as well as significant hazards from avalanches and the Khumbu Icefall. As of 2017, nearly 300 people have died on Everest, many of whose bodies remain on the mountain.The first recorded efforts to reach Everest's summit were made by British mountaineers. As Nepal did not allow foreigners into the country at the time, the British made several attempts on the north ridge route from the Tibetan side. After the first reconnaissance expedition by the British in 1921 reached 7,000 m (22,970 ft) on the North Col, the 1922 expedition pushed the north ridge route up to 8,320 m (27,300 ft), marking the first time a human had climbed above 8,000 m (26,247 ft). Seven porters were killed in an avalanche on the descent from the North Col. The 1924 expedition resulted in one of the greatest mysteries on Everest to this day: George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made a final summit attempt on 8 June but never returned, sparking debate as to whether or not they were the first to reach the top. They had been spotted high on the mountain that day but disappeared in the clouds, never to be seen again, until Mallory's body was found in 1999 at 8,155 m (26,755 ft) on the north face. Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary made the first official ascent of Everest in 1953, using the southeast ridge route. Norgay had reached 8,595 m (28,199 ft) the previous year as a member of the 1952 Swiss expedition. The Chinese mountaineering team of Wang Fuzhou, Gonpo, and Qu Yinhua made the first reported ascent of the peak from the north ridge on 25 May 1960.Mountaineering
Mountaineering is the set of activities that involves ascending mountains. Mountaineering-related activities include traditional outdoor climbing, hiking, skiing, and traversing via ferratas. Indoor climbing, sport climbing and bouldering are also considered mountaineering by some.While mountaineering began as attempts to reach the highest point of unclimbed big mountains, it has branched into specializations that address different aspects of mountains, depending on whether the route chosen is over rock, snow, or ice or on level ground. All require various degrees of experience, athletic ability, and technical knowledge to maintain safety. It is still common to venture out and seek the summits of peaks, whether unclimbed or not; this practice is known as peak bagging.Mountaineering is often called alpinism, and mountain climbers are sometimes called alpinists, although use of the term may vary between countries and eras. The word "alpinism" was born in the 19th century to refer to climbing for the purpose of enjoying climbing itself as a sport or recreation, distinct from merely climbing while hunting or as a religious pilgrimage that had been done generally at that time.The UIAA, the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, is the International Olympic Committee-recognized world governing body for mountaineering and climbing, addressing issues like access, medical, mountain protection, safety, youth, and ice climbing.Normal route
A normal route or normal way (French: Voie Normale; German: Normalweg) is the most frequently used route for ascending and descending a mountain peak. It is usually the simplest route.In the Alps, routes are classed in the following ways, based on their waymarking, construction and upkeep:
Hiking trails (Wanderwege)
Mountain trails (Bergwege)
Alpine routes (Alpine Routen)
Climbing routes (Kletterrouten) and High Alpine routes (Hochalpine Routen) in combined rock and ice terrain, (UIAA) graded by difficultySometimes the normal route is not the easiest ascent to the summit, but just the one that is most used. There may be technically easier variations. This is especially the case on the Watzmannfrau, the Hochkalter and also Mount Everest. There may be many reasons these easier options are less well-used:
the simplest route is less well known than the normal route (Watzmannfrau).
the technically easiest route is more arduous than another (e.g. due to rubble) and is therefore mainly used on the descent (Hochkalter).
the technically easiest route carries a much higher risk of e.g. rockfalls or avalanche and is therefore avoided in favour of a more difficult route (Watzespitze).
the technically easier route requires a complicated or long approach march, or all access may be banned via one country (Mount Everest).The term tourist route may sometimes be applied (irrespective of the level of difficulty of ascent) by those wishing to suggest that other routes up a mountain are somehow more "worthy". This belittling of the "normal route" therefore maintains a distinction between those perceiving themselves as serious mountaineers who disparage the incursion of tourist climbers into their domain (hence the term the "Yak Route" on Mount Everest).Rock climbing
Rock climbing is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a usually pre-defined route without falling. Professional rock climbing competitions have the objectives of either completing the route in the quickest possible time or attaining the farthest point on an increasingly difficult route.
Due to the length of time and extended endurance required, and because accidents are most likely to happen on the descent, rock climbers do not usually climb back down the route, or "downclimb", especially on the larger multiple pitch class III–IV, or multi-day grade IV–VI climbs.
Rock climbing is a physically and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber's strength, endurance, agility and balance along with mental control. It can be a dangerous activity and knowledge of proper climbing techniques and use of specialized climbing equipment is crucial for the safe completion of routes.
Because of the wide range and variety of rock formations around the world, rock climbing has been separated into several different styles and sub-disciplines, such as scrambling, another activity involving the scaling of hills and similar formations, differentiated by rock climbing's sustained use of hands to support the climber's weight as well as to provide balance.Scrambling
Scrambling (also known as alpine scrambling) is "a walk up steep terrain involving the use of one's hands". It is an ambiguous term that lies somewhere between hiking, hillwalking, mountaineering, and rock climbing. Canyoning often involves scrambling.
Alpine scrambling is scrambling in high mountains like the Alps and the Rockies of North America, and may not follow a defined or waymarked path. The Mountaineers climbing organization defines alpine scrambling as follows:
Alpine Scrambles are off-trail trips, often on snow or rock, with a 'non-technical' summit as a destination. A non-technical summit is one that is reached without the need for certain types of climbing equipment (body harness, rope, protection hardware, etc), and not involving travel on extremely steep slopes or on glaciers. However, this can mean negotiating lower angle rock, traveling through talus and scree, crossing streams, fighting one's way through dense brush, and walking on snow-covered slopes.Sport climbing
Sport climbing is a form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors fixed to the rock for protection, in which a rope that is attached to the climber is clipped into the anchors to arrest a fall. This is in contrast to traditional climbing where climbers must place removable protection as they climb. Sport climbing usually involves lead climbing techniques, but free solo and deep-water solo (no protection) climbing on sport routes is also sometimes possible.
Sport climbing emphasises strength, endurance, gymnastic ability and technique.
With increased accessibility to climbing walls, and gyms, more climbers now enter the sport through indoor climbing than outdoor climbing. The transition from indoor climbing to sport climbing is not difficult because the techniques and equipment used for indoor climbing are nearly sufficient for sport climbing.
While sport climbing is common in many areas worldwide, it is heavily restricted in some places where it is considered ethically unacceptable to bolt climbs. This is largely due to the local climbing traditions, and to the type of rock; for instance, it is often considered reasonable to bolt limestone or slate quarries in the UK, especially if these are otherwise unprotectable, but it is considered completely unacceptable to bolt gritstone regardless as to how dangerous a climbing path might be. Debates over bolting in the climbing communities are often fierce. Bolting without a consensus in favour of bolting generally leads to the destruction, or removal, of the bolts by activists against bolting.
Since sport climbing paths do not need to follow climbing paths where protection can be placed they tend to follow more direct, and straight forward, paths up crags than traditional climbing paths which can be winding and devious by comparison. This, in addition to the need to place gear, tends to result in different styles of climbing between sport and traditional.
Sport climbing is scheduled to make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, and was previously tested at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics.Vine
A vine (Latin vīnea "grapevine", "vineyard", from vīnum "wine") is any plant with a growth habit of trailing or scandent (that is, climbing) stems, lianas or runners. The word vine can also refer to such stems or runners themselves, for instance, when used in wicker work.In parts of the world (including the British Isles), the term "vine" usually applies exclusively to grapevines (Vitis), while the term "climber" is used for all climbing plants.Yosemite Decimal System
The Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) is a three-part system used for rating the difficulty of walks, hikes, and climbs, primarily used by mountaineers in the United States and Canada. It was first devised by members of the Sierra Club in Southern California in the 1950s as a refinement of earlier systems, particularly those developed in Yosemite Valley, and quickly spread throughout North America.
The class 5 portion of the class scale is primarily a rock climbing classification system, while classes 1–2 are used mainly in hiking and trail running. Class 3 describes easy and moderate climbing (i.e. scrambling), with varying amounts of exposure. Class 4 is an "in-between" rating that describes a very exposed scramble, corresponding roughly to the IFAS classification of PD+. Climbers, specifically those involved with technical class 5 climbing, often abbreviate "class 3" and "class 4" to "3rd" and "4th" respectively.
Originally the system was a single-part classification system. "Grade" and "protection" categories were later added to the system. The new categories do not apply to every climb and usage varies widely. "Grade" describes the amount of time needed to complete a climb, and "protection" describes the availability and quality of places on a climbing route where a climber may utilize climbing protection.
Class 5 is subdivided into parts, currently 5.0 to 5.15. Ratings above 5.9 are further subdivided, for example, 5.10b or 5.15c. When writing out a full YDS rating, grade is added after classification, and is followed by protection, so a typical YDS route description would be something like "5.10b VI R". Often the grade is omitted, and just the classification and protection ratings used. If the amount of protection available on a route is not concerning, then the protection rating is omitted as well.
While primarily considered a free climbing system, an aid-climbing designation is sometimes appended, numbered A0 to A5. For example, The North America Wall on El Capitan would be classed "5.8 VI A5" using this mixed system.
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