What Is Rock Climbing?

From an activity that was undertaken by archaeologists to becoming an Olympic sport, rock climbing has come a long way. Rock climbing is an activity in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The concept is to reach an endpoint, a rock face or structure. This can be done with the help of specific equipment, depending on the difficulty and severity of the climb.

It is a physically demanding sport that combines fitness and agility with the mental fortitude required to conquer an ascension or traverse. It tests a climber’s strength, endurance, agility and balance along with mental control.

Types Of Rock Climbing

Because of the wide range and variety of rock formations around the world, rock climbing has been separated into several different styles and sub-disciplines. Check out what they are!


Probably the simplest form of rock climbing, in Bouldering the climber moves over small rocks or boulders sing short movements without harnesses or ropes. While it normally features routes with a shorter height it can still have many complex and challenging routes.

For bouldering, you need to secure your landing with pads, and you can go at it alone. This makes bouldering a great way to kickstart your rock climbing. Also, there are no safety systems or knots you have to learn so you can jump straight into climbing and worry about that later. 

It can be a great activity to take up with your friends or even for an adventurous date as the problems are small, there’s more time for chatting and just having fun.

Dry Tooling

A huge jump from bouldering, Dry Tooling can be a strange but fun sport to try. involves placing ice axes into the wall as you ascend the rock, with the assistance of crampons in place of climbing shoes. It includes ropes, harnesses, and the equipment used for sport climbing.

Dry tooling also involves a huge mental component of learning to trust your placements. You can no longer ‘feel’ the rock as you would with hands and feet, but you must learn to take other visual, auditory, and kinesthetic cues to know that what you are pulling or standing on is solid and won’t crack.

The damage that this type of climbing can do to the rock has made it a more controversial style.

Trad Climbing

Traditional Climbing or Trad Climbing focuses on the physical intensity of the journey itself, traditional climbing is all about the holistic experience and the mental game that accompanies these climbs. Routes sent traditionally do not have fixed anchors permanently bolted into the wall. Instead, the climber is responsible for inserting protection into cracks in the rock.

Traditional climbing requires technical knowledge of climbing anchors and skill in making them. Sport climbing requires little technical knowledge of equipment. Sport climbers think nothing of falling repeatedly while trying to figure out a tough move; trad climbers are careful not to fall on the anchors they place.

Sport Climbing

Sport climbers predominantly focus on the moves and techniques they use to get to their destination rather than the destination itself. In lead and sport climbing, falling is expected and planned for accordingly. A climber working on a difficult route may fall dozens of times before he finally accomplishes it.

Up until the 1970s, most free climbers felt it was cheating to hang on a rope to practice difficult moves over and over again, as one might do while bouldering. But during this influential decade, free climbers began to experiment with what was known at the time as hang-dogging, that is, rehearsing a sequence of difficult moves over and over again while resting on the rope between attempts to master the climb.

Big Wall Climbing

Think Trad Climbing multiplied with immense difficulty. While not the most common form of climbing, big wall climbing is arguably the most notorious. It utilizes long multi-pitch routes along the vertical rocks, which often necessitates more than one day. The thrill of sleeping on the side of a rock wall makes this an attractive type of rock climbing.

Of course, proper precautions can always be made to keep climbers safe – to a certain extent. To make all the proper precautions, however, climbers will be required to invest in proper gear, making big wall climbing far more expensive than its less-intensive counterparts.

Alpine Climbing

Alpine climbing has been around since at least the 1300s when the French poet Petrarch reached the summit of Mont Ventoux. Alpine climbing is a multi-disciplinary sport. To successfully climb in the “alpine,” which is generally defined as the region of a mountain above the treeline, climbers need to be able to climb rock and ice faces, hike long distances with heavy packs, and navigate glaciated terrain.

Equipment Needed For Rock Climbing

If you feel the urge to scale a cliff face but don’t know how to do it safely, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our comprehensive list of the rock climbing equipment you need. Have a look!

Climbing Ropes

For every other type of climbing, ropes are an essential part of the sport. In tandem with proper use of your harness, carabiners, belay device, quickdraws, and cams, climbing ropes will save your life if you slip or fall off the rock face.

These progressive ropes are developed for discovering single-pitch climbing. You can use this highly durable rope for all your attempts! With its 10 mm diameter and decent weight, it makes belaying easier. 


Ideally, your harness should comfortably work with your clothing to ensure a full range of movement. Padding, extra-wide webbing, ventilation, and moisture transport are just some of the key features to look for. As for a harness’s anatomy, it contains two front tie-in points where the climber can thread the rope and tie it in – one at the waist (the belay loop) and one at the leg loops. 

These mountaineering harnesses give you the highest level of comfort and versatility, wherever you climb with them. Thanks to wide, very dense EVA foam pads, they provide excellent weight distribution giving you maximum comfort.

Belay Device

If they don’t own one already, a belay device is one of the first pieces of rock climbing hardware a trad or sport climber will buy when planning a climb. If you haven’t heard of a belay device before, it’s essentially a mechanical friction brake used to protect climbers from falls or lower them from an ascent.


A carabiner, in simple terms, is a device to which you can attach things without fear of them becoming detached. So, in climbing, they’re used for all sorts of purposes, such as connecting climbing rope with other pieces of climbing protection such as nuts, camming devices, and bolts.

This one from Decathlon will compliment all your other equipment too.


We did say carabiners are used for all sorts of things in rock climbing, one of these is the quickdraw. It’s made from two carabiners connected by a textile sling. The idea is to attach one end of the quickdraw carabiner to a bolt hanger on a route, and your rope to the other. This gives you some slack on the rope by allowing the rope to move around while remaining attached to the bolt hanger.

The lightest in the Simond range, these Mountaineering and Climbing Quickdraws help to save weight on multi-pitch climbs. The best part? They are just 79 grams.

Climbing Cams

Cams are particularly useful in trad climbing where a nut or bolt won’t work. With that in mind, cams offer a little more flexibility in the route you can take up a rock face, and they’re commonplace in every outdoor rock climber’s arsenal of tools.

Climbing Helmet

The climbing types you’ll most commonly need a helmet for are mountaineering, trad climbing, and sport climbing, as they typically take place in wild mountains or well-worn routes. Ideally, your helmet should fit snugly and sit flat on your head but not feel too tight. You should also make sure the helmet does not obstruct your line of sight up the wall.

Developed for climbers and mountaineers of all levels, adults and children, this climbing and mountaineering helmet is strong and versatile. The 14 air vents in the helmet ensure a good level of ventilation keeping it cool for you.

Climbing Shoes

Stepping foot on a wall without climbing shoes is unheard of. Probably the most important tool to your rock climbing adventures. Climbing shoes are characterised by their tight fit, thin material, and rubber sole and outer edges. These design features all come together to give your foot the best grip on the wall to allow you to stand on holds you otherwise wouldn’t be able to in normal shoes or barefoot.

Developed to allow you to discover climbing and help you up to your first route, these Rock Climbing shoes easily adjust to your foot shape. The sole grips onto holds for safe climbing while reducing foot fatigue.

What Is Indoor Climbing?

If you’re interested in learning how to climb, or you’re looking to amp up your climbing strength and skills, joining a climbing gym is a great way to go.

This is where a novice enters the world of harness-and-rope climbing. When you’re top-roping, the rope is secured to an overhead anchor in the gym. You tie into one end of the rope while the other end of the rope is held by a belayer, who manages the rope to catch you in case of a fall. The belayer might be a trained staff person, a friend with belay certification or an auto belay device.

Equipment Needed For Indoor Climbing

When you go climbing for the first time, you’ll rent a harness and shoes. You may also get a chalk bag. Most harnesses are similar across the board and what works for outdoor rock climbing will work for indoor climbing too. So rest assured, you don’t need to make any new purchases.

Benefits Of Rock Climbing And Indoor Climbing

Looking to mix up your fitness routine? Rock Climbing, indoor or outdoor is a great way to work on your endurance, build strength and give your balance a boost. It’s an exciting sport that can be adopted by virtually anyone, of any age and fitness level.

Here are some of the benefits of rock climbing and indoor climbing:

  • Rock climbing uses virtually every major muscle group in your body, making it a great whole-body alternative to pumping iron at the gym. It’ll strengthen your core while being low impact.
  • All the reaching, stretching, and climbing that’s involved with scaling an indoor climbing wall can dramatically improve your overall flexibility and range of motion.
  • Climbing up an indoor course is hard work, it will surely challenge your cardiovascular system.
  • If you’ve always struggled with physical coordination, indoor rock climbing may help you develop better hand-eye coordination while increasing your sense of spatial awareness.
  • It can help reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.

Make sure you look for places that guarantee you good training from qualified and experienced trainers. Decathlon is the one-stop destination for all your quality sports and travel goods. We promise to accompany you to all your adventures in the form of gears for a more than satisfactory experience.

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