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Climbing or climbing is an activity practiced all over the world, and due to its popularity, many types of climbing have been invented, for various reasons. Most people think that there are only two or three types of climbing: rope climbing, bouldering and rock climbing. But there are many more methods and types of climbing than these, some quite similar, and others truly unique.

With the clues that you will find below, you will find out how these types of climbing differ from each other and you will be able to choose the one that attracts you the most.
If you want to start rock climbing, you won't have to beat your head too much with all the types of climbing below. The most common types of climbing are bouldering, rope climbing and rope climbing and there are climbing halls all over the world where you can learn about these.

If you practice at least one of these three types of climbing, you will know almost everything about the other styles listed below, with the exception of those involving ice.

1. Bouldering

Bouldering is a type of solo climbing that does not require a rope. Unlike rope climbing, or other similar forms of climbing, in bouldering you will not have anyone on the wall with you to help you. Of course, with the exception of words of encouragement from those below. Although duo bouldering is fun, it is quite rare.

There are indoor bouldering halls and outdoor bouldering areas all over the world.
The maximum height of a bouldering wall will be approximately 4 meters, and the average height generally reaches approximately 3 meters.
The indoor bouldering rooms offer different climbing routes, with different degrees of difficulty and are provided with a large safety mattress, for situations in which the climber may fall. Outdoor bouldering generally requires the climber to have inflatable mattresses for eventual falls.

There are shoes specifically intended for bouldering, specially designed for short and steep routes, or for precision on overhangs. Bouldering is one of the most common forms of climbing.

2. Highballing

Highballing is exactly the same as bouldering, only much more risky. If in bouldering the maximum height is 4 meters, in highballing a wall or a rock whose height is between 4 and 13 meters will be climbed without a rope.

In some cases there are artificial walls for highballing, placed above a net or large mattresses, but in general the highballing routes are difficult to find in an artificial environment. Mattresses are not used for this type of climbing, because they become useless at high altitudes. Highballing can be, as such, quite a dangerous style.

3. Full solo

As in the case of bouldering and highballing, even those who practice the full solo style do not use a rope, and this style of climbing is probably the most dangerous of all the existing ones. It is not just an opinion, but a reality supported by the large number of climbers who lost their lives during a full solo climb.
Bouldering turns into full solo when the climber climbs without a rope to a height of over 13 meters. All full solo can also be considered a highball route (with a height between 4 and 13 meters) difficult and therefore more dangerous, because of the route and the techniques required.

Probably the most famous climber in the world who practices full solo is Alex Honnold, who set the record for climbing the Bear's Reach route in Lover's Leap, a granite rock in California, with a time of 4 minutes and 15 seconds, without a rope . The route has a height of approximately 122 meters.

4. Climbing the rope

The requirements of the climbing style "head of the rope" can be understood even from its name. Rope climbing requires a leader to establish the route, passing the rope through the belays that are firmly attached to the wall or rock. Mobile climbing equipment can also be used for rope climbing, which is removable and does not remain fixed in the rock. There are different types of rope climbing, including sport climbing and traditional climbing (trad).

While the belayer climbs the route, another person at the base of the wall - belayer or second - will help him with the release of the rope or with the traction of the rope (filage), as requested by the belayer .
The head will then catch the rope in belays to allow the other climbers below it to climb, with a lower risk of falling. The one that helps the climber not to fall is obviously the rope.

5. Mountaineering

What the Americans call mountaineering, in Europe it is called climbing. Climbing or mountaineering is somewhat similar to mountain hiking, with the exception of the fact that it is more physically demanding, as a result of the different techniques that must be used in certain situations, so that you can travel the route safely.

Climbing is often done in groups, because teamwork and support is generally a vital factor in terms of safety and advancement. It can be an activity lasting a few hours, or it can be an expedition lasting days, weeks or even months. To climb Mount Everest, for example, an average person needs around two months to get from the base of the mountain to the top.
Mountains offer different types of problems, depending on the different terrain they offer and the general conditions, compared to regular vertical climbing routes. During a climbing route you can come across ice, snow and different types of rock. That is precisely why you may need different techniques and various technical equipment.

In order to get from one area to another, it may be necessary - on the same route - to climb on ice, walk on glaciers, normal climbing at the head of the rope and maybe even bouldering areas.
Mountaineering is quite dangerous because of the challenges it can throw in the way: glaciers, rockfalls, avalanches and crevasses - all posing different problems. In addition, when you reach higher and higher altitudes, the air becomes thinner and the weather conditions can become more unfriendly.

6. Sport climbing

Sport climbing is a type of rope climbing. As in the case of this one, there are belays stuck in the rock, meant to protect climbers from falling. These belays are attached to the end of the rope and generally have a distance of 3-5 meters between them.
The climber will use a loop to attach the rope to the piton attached to the wall. A loop is composed of two carabiners fastened together by a thick piece of material. At the end of the route, the climber will have a belay attached to the end of the rope, consisting of two or three pitons and rappel rings.

The objective of sport climbing is to focus on technique, strength, cardio activity and gymnastic movements, unlike some climbing methods that focus on adventure and risk as major factors - for example full solo or climbing.
Many people who practice rope climbing are more inclined to do sport climbing than traditional climbing (trad), due to the comfort. In sport climbing, less equipment is needed, you don't have much to remember about the anchors in the wall, it is easier than traditional climbing but still quite challenging, and it is perceived more as a workout for the body than for the mind.

7. Traditional climbing (natural, trad)

As I have already said, traditional climbing is another type of rope climbing, with the difference that in trad style the belays that are attached to the wall are removed once the route has been completed.

Climbers who climb in the traditional style not only need carabiners, but also other types of equipment to help them hold on to the wall, such as cams, nuts and other mobile belay accessories. They get caught in the cracks and crevices on the wall.
At the end of the route, a climber practicing the trad climbing style will generally have to build a belay anchor himself, with the equipment he has with him. But there are also routes that have belay points with two or three pitons or booster rings.

8. Top rope climbing

Climbing top rope or "in the hand" is certainly one of the safest forms of climbing. For this style, there is or is being built at the top of the route a type of anchor - either from pitons, or from a tree, a stone or a boulder. The rope descends through this belay to the climber and reaches the base of the route, to the rope belayer.

When climbing the hand, you will need to have access to the top of the route without having to climb up there, usually through a hike or another easy access method, so that you can anchor the rope at the top of the wall.
The climber will not risk falling too much into the void if he makes a mistake, because he will be protected by the belay rope and the belay point at the top of the route.

9. Climbing on Aid routes

Aid climbing is any type of climbing that requires the use of equipment or accessories, which will help the climber to climb further up the wall.
The idea of ​​this type of climbing is for the climber to use his equipment to assist him in climbing as much as possible, but not necessarily for safety.
Bouldering, highballing and full solo are styles that do not require a specific type of equipment such as pitons, rings or carabiners in the wall and therefore are not classified as assisted climbing.

10. Free climbing

Free climbing - also known as climbing without direct assistance - describes any type of climbing without climbing equipment to help the climber advance along the route. But the use of equipment for safety reasons is allowed in free climbing.
That is why bouldering, sport climbing, full solo climbing, higballing and traditional climbing are all variants of free climbing. Free climbing is the opposite of assisted climbing (aid).

11. String solo

Solo climbing with a rope is a style of climbing without a partner, which is based on the use of the rope for protection. Other equipment can be used if the climber needs help, for example rope soloing can be a form of free climbing or aid climbing.
String soloing is similar to the full solo style, but involves less risk due to the protection provided by the string. However, solo climbing is more risky than climbing with a partner or a group.

Although it is a safer option than full solo, it is much more annoying than most other types of climbing, because part of the route has to be climbed twice, given that after adding a belay anchor, the climber has to return for to remove the front anchor.

12. Multi-pitch climbing

Multi-pitch climbing is any form of climbing that involves regrouping points, where the climber can stop along the route.
In general, the group leader will attach himself to the regrouping anchor and put on the equipment that the other climbers below will also use.

13. Solo Deep Water (SDW) or Psicobloc

Psychobloc climbing is that type of climbing in which the climber uses the water at the base of the climbed rock as a safety net in case of a fall. Psychobloc climbing is very similar to bouldering, highballing and full solo, but it is not as dangerous as the last two because the water will take over most of the risks in case of a fall. But those who want to climb psychoblock must make sure that the water is not shallow and that there are no boulders below.

There are few artificial SDW climbing walls, and generally this style is practiced on sea cliffs, or rocks located above the low tide limit, although it is rarely practiced above rivers and reservoirs.
There are many places in the world famous for psychobloc climbing locations, including Devon, Majorca, Calanques, Ireland, Sardinia, Spain, Greece, but also Texas.

14. Ice climbing

For ice climbing, ice axes, poles, ropes and protective equipment are usually used, and the climber climbs on waterfalls, rocks and frozen slabs, as well as on other similar terrains. There are two types of ice climbing:

  • Alpine ice climbing
  • Climbing on frozen water

The reason why these types of ice are considered different is that alpine ice is represented by frozen precipitation, while ice water is a frozen water stream.
Climbing styles on each type of ice differ, as do the degrees of difficulty.

Alpine ice climbing

Alpine ice is found on mountains and, in principle, it must be climbed for the climber to reach the top of the mountain. As such, it is a type of climbing used in mountaineering.
Alpine ice is easier to climb than frozen water, but in general it is about longer routes than in the case of most areas with frozen water.

Climbing on frozen water

The frozen water is climbed by those who want to test their technique and is basically represented by a frozen waterfall.

Ice climbing is a type of rope climbing, which can be done in pairs, with a rope in which one of the climbers is the anchor. The ice ax is used to advance on the ice. Ice climbing is considered an extreme sport.