To the uninitiated, climbing can seem intimidating, but most beginners are surprised at how quickly they can get started. Fundamentally, it is not that much different from climbing trees, something most of us did as children. This article was contributed by Henry T Joseph, used with permission. Rock climbing is an activity 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 previously defined route without falling. Rock climbing competitions have objectives of completing the route in the quickest possible time or the farthest along an increasingly difficult route.
- A wide range of equipment is used during rock climbing.
- The article on protecting a climb describes equipment commonly used to protect a climber against the consequences of a fall.
Ropes used for climbing can be divided into two classes: dynamic ropes and low elongation ropes. Dynamic ropes are designed to absorb the energy of a falling climber and are usually used as belaying ropes. Low elongation ropes stretch much less and are usually used in anchoring systems. Some tips for safe climbing:
- Always check harnesses - After you've geared up, always check that the climber's harness buckles are doubled back.
- Always check knots - before you start climbing, always double check that leader's tie- in knot is tied right and finished with a back up knot.
- Always wear a helmet - Always wear one when climbing or belaying. Helmets protect your head from falling rocks and from the impact of falling.
- Always check the rope and the belay device - Before you lead a route, always double check that the rope is properly threaded through the belay device.
- Always use a long rope - Make sure your climbing rope is long enough to reach the anchors.
- Always pay attention - Never take the leader off belay unless you are absolutely certain he is tied in and safe and he communicates that to you.
- Always bring enough gear - Before you climb a route, always eyeball it from the ground and determine what you need to bring. Don't rely strictly on a guidebook to tell you what to bring.
- Always climb with the rope over your leg - always make sure the rope is over your leg rather than between them or behind one.
- Always properly clip the rope - Make sure you always clip your rope through carabineers on quick draws correctly.
- Always use safe anchors - At the top of a pitch or route, always use at least two anchors. Three is better.
Safety is and should be one of the important concerns in Rock Climbing. It is usually done in areas where medical assistance is not readily available. The sport presents a physical and mental challenge with minimal danger. Because of the potential for serious injury, much specialized safety equipment has been devised, making it a very safe sport in most cases. Finding a place to climb is easily done with one of the many available guidebooks. Some safety equipment niques:
- Top-roping, a rope from the top of the climb always holds the climber, making most slips harmless.
- Lead climbing; the climber attaches the rope to the rock at points along the climb. This is not as safe, it allows more routes to be climbed.
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