“Rock climbing is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. It is an activity in which climbers climb across rocks formed naturally or rock walls that are artificially set up for the purpose of climbing. The goal of a rock climber is to reach to the top of the rock wall, or the endpoint of the route that is pre-decided without falling off the rock. Rock climbers do not climb back down as most of the accidents happen when a climber climbs back down the route. Considering the risks and the adventure involved there are many people who, for their love of thrill and adventure pursue rock climbing.
The two most popular forms of rock climbing include Traditional Climbing and Sports Climbing.
- Traditional Climbing: A quite popular form of rock climbing, a climber who undertakes traditional style rock climbing is said to be a â€˜Trad Climber’. When the trad climber climbs a piece of rock, to ensure his/her safety the climber place all their gear on the rock on which they are climbing and remove it only after the passage is over. The trad climber searches for a crack in the rock and once found, he places his protection in that crack. A rock climber uses a rope whose one end is connected to the belayer, and the other end of the rope is connected to the climber. Traditional rock climbing involves a lot of risks and requires a lot of experience. You need to be trained or experienced enough to discern if the crack is deep enough to support your weight or is it only appearing like that. If you are a first-time climber, then you should not perform traditional climbing as it could be dangerous. Traditional climbing is designed for an advanced and experienced climber.
- Sports Climbing: This is also a very famous form of rock climbing that many people pursue. Sports climbing differs from traditional climbing in only one aspect, and that is the gear used in it. Gears used in sports climbing are very different from gears used in Trad Climbing. The way of using the rope in sports climbing is same as used in traditional but instead of using nuts the climber uses quickdraws in sports climbing. A quickdraw is a short sling that has a carabiner attached at both of its ends.
With the two forms of rock climbing described it is easy to discern that going on rock climbing is not an easy task. A person going on rock climbing must gear up, both mentally and physically as there is no exit once a climber begins the climb.
Here are the risks involved in rock climbing.
- Fall from a height: This is one of the most common risks in rock climbing. To be safe in such situation the rock climber should wear a harness and a helmet, remember the helmet must fit your head correctly, if it will fall away from your head exposing it to serious injuries.
- Slips: This kind of risk is very common with starters. To be safe when such situation occurs starters should wear correct footwear. They are given the instructions on how to descend before going rock climbing to which they must adhere.
- Entanglement: This kind of risk occurs mostly with climbers who have long hair and who wear jewellery. To be safe from such situations the participants with long hair should tie their hair and must remove all jewellery before going on rock climbing.
- Excessive speed while descending: If this situation occurs then it could cause a great problem. To be safe in such situation, you should use proper belay system so that you can descend slowly.
If despite all the risks involved you still have your heart set on going for a rock climbing trip, then there is no backing out. There is nothing that you cannot accomplish as long as you have made thorough preparations for yourself and the task. The first step towards pursuing rock climbing is to make your physical system ready to meet the demands that climbing needs from you especially because most of the weight of the body is going to fall on your arms and shoulders.
Here is an insight into how you must prepare yourself for one of the most physically demanding yet adventurous activities of your life:
- Building strength: If you are willing to become a mountain climber then don’t be deterred by a thought like you must be a power lifter or an equivalent to be able to climb a rock. Yes, rock climbing does require strength because while climbing your whole body is being drawn up the mountain. So you need to work towards building your strength in the direction of being able to lift yourself up vertically.
Therefore, the training with which you should start before going on rock climbing is Bodyweight Training. This training includes exercises like pushups, dips, pullups, squats, etc. Once you are comfortable with performing these exercises without extraordinary effort and fatigue, you can work on adding some weight to your body.
- Increase the Stamina: Stamina plays an immensely important role in rock climbing. You may have the strength to carry your body vertically but for how long can you keep yourself in that position is what matters in rock climbing. This is what the stamina is all about. The key skill of a successful rock climber is that he/she should be able to keep moving and remain alert for a large number of hours. So to increase the stamina the exercises that the climber should do are running, cycling, aerobics, etc.
- Altitude training: It is obvious that rock climbing is quite different from other adventurous sports. The fitness level required for rock climbing is in a way similar to other activities the only difference being that in rock climbing the higher you reach, the more hard work your body has to do. So to increase your efficiency at a higher altitude you must do your training at higher altitudes. The body of the climber takes days to adjust physiologically and behaviorally to high altitude. If you are a serious climber, then the methods that can be used by you for altitude training is Hypoxic Tent.
Once you have physically prepared yourself for rock climbing, you proceed to the next step that is packing. Packing for a trip such as this is much more than just throwing in the climbing gear and a few clothes. You need to keep your requirements in mind.
Here is how you must pack for a rock climbing trip.
- Backpack: Get a climbing backpack. Your backpack should have enough space that it can fit a helmet, climbing rope, a pair of shoes, extra clothing, harness and things for protection while climbing that are nuts or chocks, cams. The backpack in which there is access to bottom is the best. Most climbers prefer the packs that are made for the special purpose of providing an easy access to the helmet. These packs come with a stretchy pocket on their front which gives them their specialty.
- Clothing: If you are going on rock climbing for more than one day, then you should pack extra clothes depending on the number of days the trip is supposed to last
- Climbing Rope: Rope forms the primary part of rock climbing equipment. Make sure that you have checked it for any cuts or breaks. Keep it coiled inside your bag as that would avoid it from getting tangled. Keep the rope in the main compartment of your pack and on the top of it under the lid.
- Protective Gear: The most important thing for a climber to pack are protective gears. Before going on, climbing consult your trainers for all the protective gears, you need for rock climbing and make a list. They usually include nuts and cams. Collect them and put them on a rack. And remember not to throw them loose into the main compartment of the pack. The benefit of keeping them on a rack is that whenever you need them you can take them out easily. The last things that are left to pack are harness, haul bags, chalk bags that are properly sealed and the helmet.
- First Aid Kit: As you are climbing a rock there are a hundred percent chances that your body will hit the rock and rub against it. This leads to bruises, scratches and cuts. Apart from that you need to be prepared for even worse accidents that are known to happen during such trips. So get a first aid box and update it with all the items that you may find a use of during the trip.
- Extras: Always pack an extra of items that are primary to the activity you are going to undertake. Pack an athletic tape, some energy bars, gloves and extra carabineers in a place where they can be easily accessed when needed.
- Food and water: Most people pursue rock climbing by wandering deep into the woods to find the right spot to begin. Such trips last for days. Apart from that, being the physically taxing sport that rock climbing is you are easily drained off of all your energy. The only way to refill our energy bar and to keep going is to have the right food that will not just last for a long time but will also provide you the nutrition and the energy that your body needs. A great option to consider when looking for the kind of food and water supplies that you should take with you is MRE or meals, ready to eat. These meals, as the name suggests do not need any cooking before their consumption. Each meal is power packed with enough calories for the day and the plus point of these ready to eat meals is that they last for a long time. You can buy meals that last for three days to meals that last for years.
A single packet of MRE contains the ration for the entire day. It consists of three meals including light snacks. It also has utensils to eat the food in including a fork or a spoon. Each MRE is high in vitamins, minerals and energy that help you cope the loss of energy after a climb.
They are easy to carry and easier to consume which makes them a perfect food partner when setting out on a rock climbing adventure.
Effective preparation and the right attitude can get you anywhere in life. So if you have made your mind up, don’t back out!”