Tips For Rock Climbing

Climbing is rarely about actual strength. Of course strength helps but the better and more experienced you get you’ll find that balance and technique are FAR more important. Climbing well does not always mean getting to the top. Climbing is about being in control, moving decisively and fluidly up the rock and not thrashing and scrambling.

Work on balance and overall strength and not on building large muscle groups. Build your heart rate and work on finger strength.

There are three types of climbing. Trad (traditional) climbing is identified as routes where you must place you own safety gear. You are free climbing and using combinations of stoppers, cams, hexes and even pitons as protection. Sport climbing is usually short face climbs (though they can be milti pitch) using all bolts. Bouldering is done without ropes and done on free standing boulders. These routes are between 3 and maybe 20 moves; they are practice for sport climbing and often involve gymnastic or dynamic moves. The rating system in the US is called the Yosemite System and goes from 5.0 to 5.14. Ratings at 5.10 and above also include letters 5.10a, 5.10b, 5.10c, 5.10d, and 5.11. Boulders are rated with V1-5 based on difficulty.

Question on leading a trad route – say you start a route placing gear as you go. You get halfway up and can’t get past a crux, so you drop down. Now, how would you get the gear out that on the in the wall? (i.e. the top piece that you came down on.)? You don’t. Unless, you can walk to the top and rappel down to retrieve your gear. Be careful when lowering off climbs on one piece of equipment, that fails, you die! Better to lead trad routes several grades below your ability level.

Why does most mountaineering guides require you to have plastic boots instead of leather? Simply, the warmth, plastic boots have several layers and are quite a bit warmer. Most guide services do not want to deal with any frostbite problems while guiding. As a beginner/recreational climber…find a size that is snug…but comfortable. If you could not wear the shoes for one hour without discomfort….then the shoes are too tight.

I have been climbing 5.10/11 since 1977. In my experience, a little bit of tightness may give you a slight advantage….you get up a 5.11a when normallly your limit is 5.10d…but I would much rather enjoy my recreation than climb at my ultimate limit.

RP’s are a brand name for artificial chock stones. Like Stoppers, Rocks, Walnuts, Offsets, etc, it is the name given by the manufacturer; Pacific Crossing. Typically RP’s were small to micro sized brass alloy nuts, similar to the Black Diamond copper/steel nut made today.

RP’s were used, almost to the exclusion of any other micro nut, in Yosemite to push the frontier of what was possible with clean aid climbing in the late ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s. With the huge growth of the sport of climbing in the 1990’s, many other companies began producing micro nuts similar to the RP.

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