Training for Rock Climbing

Training for Rock Climbing

More than seven years ago when Brian West started climbing, he was frustrated since he thought climbing will be so easy for him. Being an athlete, Brian always excelled at sports but he failed to understand why he performed terribly at rock climbing. Because of his incompetent techniques, he would be pumped after one or two routes then he felt as if he would not hold on to the small holds. If you have ever felt that way or it has happened to you, you are not alone. Brian would frequently visit the rock gym and climb all the time and everyone would tell him to climb more to get better at it. Initially, nothing he did seemed to work in fact, it was like the harder he worked at it, the less progress he was actually recording. After some time, he began resenting any climber that was better and stronger than he was; especially climbers who made it look very easy.

Training for Rock Climbing Summary

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Author: Brian West
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Training for Rock Climbing

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North American Rating Systems Rock climbing

5.0-5.4 A physically fit climber can usually climb at this level with little or no rock climbing skills, using only natural ability. 5.4-5.7 Requires use of rock-climbing techniques such as hand jamming and or strength. 5.7-5.9 Rock-climbing shoes, good skills, and some strength are usually necessary at this level. 5.10 and above Beyond rock shoes, excellent skills, and strength, this level requires training for climbing techniques and commitment of time to maintain that level. Rating aid moves or climbs is different than rating free climbing in that it is not an open-ended system, nor do the ratings change with improved technology. The aid-climbing rating system indicates quality of protection and the difficulty of placing that protection. The scale is AO or C0-A5 or C5, with A referring to the use of pitons and or chocks, and C referring to clean aid climbing (chocks only), although the use of C has not been universally accepted. This system is used throughout the world except in...

Movement Over Snow And

All the principles of rock climbing, anchor placement, belays, and rope usage discussed throughout the previous chapters apply to snow and ice climbing as well. This chapter will focus on the additional skills and techniques required to move safely through snow-covered mountains and over glaciated terrain.

Grasping at the rock in a fall can result in serious injuries to the upper body If conducting a roped climb let the

Avoid climbing with gloves on because of the decreased feel for the rock. The use of gloves in the training environment is especially discouraged, while their use in the mountains is often mandatory when it is cold. A thin polypropylene or wool glove is best for rock climbing, although heavier cotton or leather work gloves are often used for belaying.

The North American Contribution

Ice Climbing Ice Route Bourgeau Left

Mountain climbing in all its forms was slower to develop in Canada and the United States than in Great Britain and Europe. By the early 1960s, however, Americans had developed new equipment and techniques for rock climbing that allowed them to make the first ascents of some of the world's greatest rock walls in Yosemite Valley of California. In mid-decade, some Yosemite climbers traveled to the Alps and made the hardest rock climbs of the day, using hardware and techniques they had brought from home. At the same time, these Americans were introduced to ice and snow climbing, an interest they brought with them when they returned home. Unfortunately, except in Alaska, the opportunities for alpine-type climbs on glaciers and ice fields is limited to only a few areas in the high mountains of the United States, In winter, however, frozen waterfalls and ice-filled chimneys are plentiful throughout the northern states, particularly in the northeast and the intermountain region of Colorado,...

The South Face of Trapecio Cordillera Huayhuash Peru

Taulliraju South Face

I have made two circuits of the Huayhuash, each time less for the climbing than for the trek itself, but each time a pack of climbing gear somehow managed to find its way onto the burro. On the first trip in 1983, the North Buttress of Puscanturpa Norte caught my eye, and there 1 made one of the best free rock climbing solos 1 have ever done. I also fell under the spell of the the South Face of

Aid Climbing Equipment

Homemade Aid Climbing Protection

Hero loops Very short slings are useful for aid climbing. These tie-off (hero) loops 4 to 6 inches long are threaded through fixed protection in place of a carabiner. Climbers usually tie their own out of ' 2-inch webbing. You'll use many of them if the route has a lot of fixed bolts or pitons. They are also used to prevent the loss of stacked pieces (described later), and to tie off partially driven pins. Also carry at least six regular-length slings for establishing anchors, extending placements to reduce rope drag, and other normal rock-climbing uses.

Story And Photos By Tom Slater

San Ysidro Rock Climbing

Sespe Gorge is a 250-foot sandstone wall rising from the Sespe River. The cracks etched into the low-angle rock comprise some of the coast's most classic multi-pitch moderates. Even higher (7,000 feet elevation) and a little farther up Highway 33 is Pine Mountain, an immense sandstone boulderfield with problems of all grades. The fun Pine Mountain Pulldown happens each September. Camping Oennison County Park off Hwy 150 west of Ojai Lake Casitas Recreation Area on Hwy 150 at Lake Casitas Pine Mountain Campground Wheeler Gorge Campground on Hwy 33. Food Ventura and Ojai offer the best options. Guidebook Rock Climbing Santa Barbara Ventura, by Steve Edwards available at Mountain Air Sports ( in SB, and Sports Chalet in Ventura. Camping El Capitan, Refugio, and Gaviota state parks, along the Pacific Ocean north of town off Hwy 101, are wonderful beach campgrounds, though they fill up quickly. You'll find hotels in town, too. Food State Street...

Patrick Mcnerthney Climber

Doug Klewin Hunter

Within ten years, equipment evolved drastically. Simple curved or angled picks gave way to reverse-curve interchangeable picks, which now sported graphite shafts and specialized adzes. Footfang crampons and Snarg ice pitons made their appearance. Internationally, the number of ice climbers had swelled, and avid aspirants were now cruising climbs within their first few outings that had been the ultimate in the previous decade. In the early 1980s, though, ice climbing took a back seat to sport rock climbing, which seemed more appealing to the young masses.

Cliff Drive Kansas City Climbing Guide

By default, we kept rating routes by their pure gymnastic difficulty, rather than their overall demands as rock-climbing challenges. This made it much safer to chase numbers. (Until E grades, that is, but American rock was free from that sinister spell.)

Personal Responsibility

Everything about mountaineering, including rock climbing, is linked to affection and respect for the environment and consideration for the travelers who come after you. The general rule is the same whether you're hiking, backpacking, alpine mountaineering, or rock climbing leave the world the way you found it. Specifically on a rock pitch, this means avoiding permanent scarring of trees, rock,

Leading And Placing Protection

Climbing Protections

Climbers who have learned the basic techniques of rock climbing and who know how to belay and rappel are ready to take up the study of leading and of placing protection. The skills of belaying, leading, and placing protection are combined in a two-person team for safe rock climbing. One climber, belayed by the second, leads up a pitch, placing protection along the way, and establishes a belay station at the top. The leader belays the second climber up. The leader then starts the next pitch, or alternates the lead (swings leads) with the second. The process is repeated until the end of the climb.

Figure Rope teams moving in the accumulation zone of a glacier

Adam Ondra Anseilknoten

The first rule for movement on glaciers is to rope up (Figure 10-25). A roped team of two, while ideal for rock climbing, is at a disadvantage on a snow-covered glacier. The best combination is a three-man rope team. Generally, the rope team members will move at the same time with the rope fully extended and reasonably tight between individuals, their security being the team arrest. If an individual should break through a snow bridge and fall into a crevasse, the other members immediately perform self-arrest, halting the fall. At points of obvious weakness in the snow bridges, the members may decide to belay each other across the crevasse using one of the established belay techniques.

Part A General Techniques

Shoulder Movements Rock Climbing

Footholds less than 2 cm (3 4 inch) wide can serve as intermediate holds, even when they slope out. Skillful footwork in rock climbing is essential. The feet should always be carefully positioned with the eyes inspecting placement. You should make as much sole-to-surface contact as possible. If you are wearing stiff-soled combat boots, your foot should be turned sideways so the edge of the boot is on the hold if you are wearing flexible rock shoes, you should capitalize on the friction and flexibility of the shoe, and smear downward with the toe pointing uphill. You must avoid crossing your feet If you must change your feet, use the change step. Making maximum use of footholds-climbing with the feet and legs-is an effective means of conserving upper body strength,

Climbing With The Feet

Smear Point Climb

When footholds are too small to use a good edging technique, the ball of the foot can be smeared over the hold. The smearing technique requires the boot to adhere to the rock by deformation of the sole and by friction. Rock climbing shoes are specifically designed to maximize friction for smearing some athletic shoes also work well. The Army mountain boot, with its softer sole, usually works better for smearing than for edging. Rounded, down-sloping ledges and low-angled slab rock often require good smearing technique. (Figure 6-6 shows examples of the smearing technique.)

Alpine climbingice climbing Europe

Steep walking routes, rock scrambling, and easy snow slopes. Crevasses possible on glaciers. Rope not always necessary. PD Peu difficile moderate. Rock climbing with some technical difficulty, snow and ice slopes, difficult glaciers, and narrow ridges. AD Assez difficile fairly hard. Fairly difficult and serious climbs, steep rock climbing, long snow ice slopes above 50 degrees. D Difficile hard. Sustained hard rock and snow ice climbing.

Roped Climbing On Ice And Snow

Boot Belay

For climbing on snow and ice, the tie-in procedure is normally the same as for rock climbing however, when moving over snow-covered glaciers, the tie-in is modified slightly. (See paragraph 10-7, Movement on Glaciers, for more information). b. Movement. For movement on gentle or moderate slopes where there is little chance of a serious fall, all climbers move simultaneously. Normally the climbers move in single file using the steps created by the lead climber and improving them when necessary. The rope between the climbers should be fully extended and kept reasonably tight. Should any member fall, he immediately yells FALLING. The other rope team members immediately drop into a self-arrest position. The fallen climber also applies the self-arrest procedure. By using this method, called the team arrest, the entire team as a whole arrests the fall of one member. On steeper slopes, and when crossing snow-covered crevasses where the snow bridges appear weak, the climbers...

Preparing to belay the leader

The belayer needs to be extra alert when the climbing is difficult right off a ledge because the leader may not be able to get in enough protection to prevent hitting the ledge in case of a fall. In fact, broken ankles are among the most common rock-climbing injuries. Of course, the climber should land with knees bent. Head injuries can be reduced by the belayer spotting the climber, preferably while tied in and otherwise ready to belay. Spotting does not mean cushioning the climber's weight with your body, but simply helping the falling climber land upright or preventing his head from hitting the ground.

General Considerations

When you take the rock-climbing skills you've learned during pleasant days on small nearby crags out into the mountains proper, some of the conditions of the game change. There are new things to keep in mind when it comes to alpine climbing which involves a mix of hiking, scrambling, routefinding, snow and ice climbing, and rock climbing. On the crags, you use light, flexible shoes specially designed for rock climbing. But on alpine climbs, heavy mountaineering boots are the usual footwear for approaches, for snow travel, and often for much or all of the climbing. As with carrying a pack, climbing in mountaineering boots adds to the challenge of otherwise moderate rock. If you decide to change to rock shoes for the more technical portions of a climb, you're stuck with packing the mountaineering boots. If you're wear Unpredictable weather, arduous approaches, high altitude, and routefinding problems all add to the commitment and challenge of alpine rock climbing.

Appendix Rating Systems

Late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries in Britain and Germany. In the 1920s, Willo Welzen-bach defined a rating system, using Roman numerals and the British adjectival system to compare and describe the routes in the Alps, which today forms the basis of the UIAA rating system. Today there are more than seven major rock, four alpine, four ice, and two aid-climbing rating systems used worldwide. This appendix will briefly describe some of these. Rating climbs is a subjective task, which makes consistency between climbing areas elusive. The rating of climbs assumes good weather and the best equipment available. Variables that affect the rating of climbs include how the local climbers who put up the routes interpret the rating system, how they want the area to be recognized, the type of rock or ice, and the type of climbing (e.g. face, crack, or friction rock climbing front pointing or French technique ice climbing). The physical size and strength of the climber also affects how he...


A steep rock face is a terrain feature that can be avoided most of the time through prior planning and good route selection. Rock climbing can be time consuming, especially for a larger unit with a heavy combat load. It can leave the climbing party totally exposed to weather, terrain hazards, and the enemy for the length of the climb. All personnel in a unit preparing for deployment to mountainous terrain should be trained in the basics of climbing. Forward observers, reconnaissance personnel, and security teams are a few examples of small units who may require rock climbing skills to gain their vantage points in mountainous terrain. Select personnel demonstrating the highest degree of skill and experience should be trained in roped climbing techniques. These personnel will have the job ofpicking and fixing the route for the rest of the unit. Rock climbing has evolved into a specialized sport with a wide range of varying techniques and styles. This chapter focuses on the basics most...

Physical Preparation

Mountaineering is a demanding activity, both physically and mentally. Rock climbing, in particular, has become increasingly athletic, especially at the higher levels of difficulty. Climbers today accomplish what was considered impossible only a few years ago. Many serious rock climbers work out at specialized gymnasiums, and the sport features international climbing competitions. In the world of alpine climbing, the highest peaks are commonly climbed without supplementary oxygen, in record times, and by more and more diffi

Join today

A number of diagrams have been taken from MLTUK's book Rock Climbing - Essential Skills & Techniques by British Mountain Guide Libby Peter. Britain is a world-class venue for sea-cliff climbing, but just getting to the bottom of a route may involve an abseil or tide dependent approach. Our mountains have many soaring cliffs, but a change in the weather can present real difficulties to the unprepared. With this variety comes venues that are very novice friendly, perfect for learning new skills before venturing into more challenging arenas. Our cliffs are a finite resource and the BMC is heavily involved in securing access to them for climbers and mountaineers. You need to be aware of seasonal or permanent restrictions that are in place to protect nesting birds and other animal and plant species. The sport of rock climbing has been evolving for over 100 years, and even though a 'rule-book' does not exist, there are many different ethics that have developed through time which allow the...

Natural protection

May form only an inch or two apart, an ice screw tied off with webbing can be inserted behind the columns and turned sideways as a deadman. You may find a sheet of ice separated from the underlying rock by an inch or two, leaving a slit that can be enlarged enough to insert a screw tied off with webbing again, turn the screw sideways to function as a deadman. You can also punch two holes in the sheet of ice, thread a runner through them, and clip the rope into it. On mixed rock and ice climbs, rock-climbing chocks may be wedged into ice holes.


Routes on indoor walls are graded using sport grades. However there is no like for like comparison to be made with an outdoor route of the same grade as an indoor one. This is because outdoor climbing relies on many more skills than indoor climbing. Indoor climbing tends to be on steep ground with positive holds, all coloured and set out in order, and as such, tends to rely a lot on strength. Outdoor climbing requires the ability to recognise holds, read sequences and involves more friction moves and jamming in cracks. Generally it is less steep and relies more on balance. These are perhaps the easiest to understand, as they will be the same grades used for routes indoors - using traditional grades for indoor climbs does not transfer to outdoor climbing. The sport grade tells you how technical, pumpy or powerful a route is. It doesn't account for how exposed it might be. They are for routes that are fully protected by bolts and graded using the French system, which runs from 3 to 9b+...

Belaying On Snow

Technical Snow Anchor

Established snow anchors, and sometimes they give quicker and less formal belays using the ice axe. The changeable nature of snow and the difficulty of inspecting snow protection usually result in anchors that can't be considered bombproof like a good anchor in rock. But they are still effective because most mishaps on snow do not generate the high loads of rock-climbing falls. Snow falls are usually slides on relatively moderate (30- to 60-de-gree) slopes, with help from the friction of rope against snow and with no direct vertical pull.

Setting Up A Belay

Self Belay Techniques

In rock climbing, climbers must sometimes make do with marginal protection placements along a route, but belay positions must be made as bombproof as possible. Additionally, the belayer must set up the belay in relation to where the fall force will come from and pay strict attention to proper rope management for the belay to be effective. All belay positions are established with the anchor connection to the front of the harness. If the belay is correctly established, the belayer will feel little or no force if the climber falls or has to rest on the rope. Regardless of the actual belay technique used, five basic steps are required to set up a sound belay.

Climbing Magazine

Jason Kehl Climber

MOST OF THE ACTIVITIES DEPICTED HEREIN CARRY A SIGNIFICANT RISK OF PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH. Rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and all other outdoor activities are inherently dangerous. The owners, staff, and management of CLIMBING do not recommend that anyone participate in these activities unless they are experts, seek qualified professional instruction and or guidance, are knowledgeable about the risks involved, and are willing to personally assume all responsibility associated with those risks.

The Fifth Edition

The Fundamentals and Rock Climbing Subcommittee jointly reviewed the revisions developed by the following lead individuals Ropes, Knots, and Carabiners, Jack E. Bennett and Larry Lon-gley Belaying, Allen Frees Rappelling, Ken Small Rock Climbing Technique, Susan Price Leading and Placing Protection, Dan Bean Aid Climbing and Pitoncraft, Jeff Johnson and Rating Systems appendix, Jan Green. Cal Magnusson of REI consulted on the Belaying chapter.

Authors Note

I have taught rock climbing for several years and enjoyed the time I have spent on rock faces, but when I climbed that first beech tree, I knew that I was into something special. The appeal is not easily explained though. I have heard it described as energizing, the theory being that the tree shares its energy with the climber and I suppose that is as good an explanation as any. All I can say for certain is that I invariably feel better when I come down than I did before I staited.


The technique of jamming consists of wedging parts of the body, such as hands or feet, securely enough into a crack to bear weight. Jamming isn't as instinctive or natural-feeling as many other climbing techniques, but it works. It's the principal technique for working your way up the cracks that constitute a big part of rock climbing.

Scope Of The Book

As in previous editions, Freedom provides sound, clear, and current coverage of the concepts, techniques, and problems involved in the pursuit of mountain climbing. Individual topics, such as rock climbing technique or aid climbing, are detailed enough to be useful to readers with specific interests in those topics. The book provides a fundamental understanding of each topic. It is not intended, however, to be exhaustive or encyclopedic. In addition to presenting information for the novice, much of the material in this book can help experienced climbers review and improve their skills.

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