What is Outdoor Rock Climbing?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 February 2020
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Outdoor rock climbing is a physically demanding sport in which a person climbs a natural or man-made rock formation. This sport generally requires special equipment and knowledge to keep the climber safe. For example, a harness and rock climbing shoes are typical required gear. In addition to climbing for pure sport, many people climb for competition, attempting to best opponents in speed or range. Outdoor rock climbing can be a difficult sport, but it helps build upper body strength, endurance, and agility.

There are two types of outdoor rocks to be climbed: natural formations and those made by human beings. Climbing natural formations is generally considered more dangerous than climbing a man-made one. For one, a real mountain has rocks that can come loose and cause the climber to lose his or her footing. Natural formations also tend to be much taller than man-made ones, and a lack of regard toward safety can be fatal. On the other hand, a man-made outdoor rock climbing wall can be dangerous too; for example, a climber might slip and fall onto another climber.


Before actually climbing a rock, whether natural or man-made, many people seek rock climbing instruction classes. These classes can often be taken at a gym or recreational park and range from free to relatively expensive, usually depending on how extensive the instruction is. Many outdoor rock climbing classes have the necessary equipment available to rent or purchase, though sometimes it is included in the price of the class. In such a class, the student’s first climb is normally guided by the instructor, who gives tips on the student’s rock climbing technique. Depending on the age of the student and the equipment’s ease of use, the instructor might eventually leave the student to his or her own devices to train.

There are many types of climbing styles, and most people grow to prefer a certain style after gaining some experience. The most popular type of climbing style is called free climbing, and it means the climber is using his or her own strength with climbing gear as protection rather than support. Free climbing can be divided into a lot of categories. For example, sport climbing is when there are permanent anchors attached to the wall for climbers to use. Free soloing is a dangerous climbing style that involves no safety gear or ropes; falling while free soloing often leads to serious injury or death. Deep water soloing is similar to free soloing, but with deep water under the rock formation to break a fall.



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