Various Types of Climbing – Bouldering, Alpine, Sport and Trad

The extreme sport of climbing has grown and is gaining popularity as people become obsessed with completing harder and harder routes. The main types of climbing are Bouldering, Alpine, Sport and Trad (Traditional).

Bouldering is where a climber ascends a boulder with a friend (spotter) directing them to a crash mat, should they fall as usually no rope is used. The equipment needed is minimal usually just climbing shoes, a chalk bag and a crash mat. When Rock climbing, a climber would use a lot more equipment for safety purposes such as ropes, nuts, camming devices along with climbing shoes, a helmet and a chalk bag to ascend rock formations.

Alpine or Ice climbing is probably the most extreme form of climbing. Climbers use special equipment including Ice Axes and Crampons to ascend ice or hard snow formations. Ice screws would be used in situations where ice obstructions prevent a normal ice screw from rotating.

Trad climbing or Traditional climbing is a type of climbing where the focus is to leave nature as it was found. Climbers use gear that is non permanent for protection. Gear is placed and removed at the end of a climb once a route is completed. Equipment used for Trad climbing includes a rope, climbing shoes, belay device, karabiners, quickdraws, slings, a harness, a helmet, chalk bag, stoppers, hexes, nut key and a camming device. Trad climbing requires a number of knots for climbers to tie in to. To tie in the climbers at both ends of the rope a Figure 8 knot is used. Trad climbing focuses on adventure, risk and self-sufficiency.

Sport climbing relies on permanent anchors that are fixed to the rock for protection unlike in Trad climbing. Sport climbing requires gymnastic ability, strength and endurance. Pre-placed bolts form a route up a rock face creating a sport climb. Sport climbing requires the following equipment: a dynamic rope, a climbing harness (for both climber and belayer), a helmet, quickdraws, karabiners, a belay device, climbing shoes, a chalk bag and slings. Sport climbs enable climbers to concentrate on the difficulty of the moves as they don’t need to place protection along the route. Sport climbs are rated on how difficult they are. The UK uses the French rating system which considers the overall difficulty of the climb. Grades start at 1 (very easy) and the system is open ended. Each grade can be subdivided by a letter (a, b or c).

Climbing is fun but can be dangerous; it requires athletic ability and technical knowledge, make sure you have the right gear and knowledge to keep you safe.