The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Climbing is going up, or, depending on context, also down. It may refer to aircraft, a land vehicle, and humans and other animals. On land, in particular it refers to steep climbs, e.g. on a hill, mountain or stairs, in a pole or tree, etc. This article covers climbing without a vehicle.


Types of climbing

By terrain:

By method of ascent:

  • In aid climbing, all means of ascent are used, from pulling on gear to climbing rope ladders attached to drilled bolts.
  • In free climbing, climbers use only their hands, feet and other body parts to make progress. Ropes and other gear are only used for protection.

By type of protection:

  • In traditional climbing the leader places all protection. The climbing system is used to protect the climber against the consequences of a fall.
  • Sport climbing is climbing on routes that are protected mostly or entirely by bolts drilled into the rock.
  • Top-rope climbing uses a rope attached to an anchor at the top. It is often used to introduce beginners to climbing but is frowned on by some in the climbing community who consider it an unpure form of ascent. It is also used to let climbers Red point difficult trad routes.
  • Solo climbing is climbing without a partner. It can be done with a rope for protection ("roped solo") or without any form of protection at all ("free solo").


Competitions are usually held indoors on purpose built climbing walls. There are two main categories.

  • Difficulty: competitors climb the same route one after the other. The winner is the one who reaches the highest point on the climb; if several competitors reach the top (or the same high point) the time taken may be used to determine the winner.
  • Speed: on two identical routes, competitors race each other to the top. The first to reach the top wins.

Typically climbers must climb the route on sight. This means that they are not allowed to see other climbers on the route, and have only a limited amount of time to visually inspect the climb from ground level. (Otherwise later climbers would be able to learn from previous competitors' mistakes, giving them a considerable advantage.)


Climbers grade the difficulty of the routes they climb. The grading system used varies from country to country (and region) and according to the style of climb. See also grade (bouldering). Grade oppinions can vary from person to person. This phenomenon can be seen frequently in climbing gyms where grading will vary vastly between gyms.

different forms of grading is also used for mountaineering, and bouldering. There is no common buildering grading technique yet.

Climbing on Other Surfaces

Climbing is not only done on rocks and on ice. It is very common for children to climb up on trees. The technique of technical climbing, when using a ladder, or the technique of freeclimbing is used. Furthermore climbing on ropes and bars is done.

Climbing ropes was an olympic sports at the beginning of the 20th century.

Climbing is also a part of parkour.

Climbing and the Law

Rock climbing is not allowed on each rock and at every season. The regulations vary from place to place. Climbing on buildings and structures without the owner's license is in most cases illegal. Concerning tree climbing the situation might vary from place to place. There are several organizations devoted to opening up new areas to rock climbing.

Climbing in popular culture

Climbing also has importance in some festivals. The best known festivals on which climbing plays an important role are technoparades, especially loveparade, where it is very common to climb on trees, street lamps, portable restrooms and other things. Therefore the technique of free climbing is used throughout. Climbing is also common during streetparade in Zurich and reincarnation in Hannover although security staff and policemen give attention to climbing people, because some injuries and damage has occurred.

Climbing techniques of animals

Some animals have very interesting and very well developed climbing techniques. Unfortunately some animals share the problem with humans that climbing down is a bigger problem than climbing up, so sometimes firemen have to save cats from trees.

See also

Last updated: 06-01-2005 22:33:06
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13