What is the Difference Between Traditional and Sport Climbing?
Traditional climbing is a style of indoor rock climbing where a group of people or a single climber place all necessary gear needed to prevent falls, secure it when the climbing wall is finished, and take it down when a new route is established. Traditional bolted climbing means that the bolts are put on with hand holds and/or lead. The bolts are usually drilled directly into the rock face or placed on a drilled hole drilled into the rock by hand. Since bolts have been used for hundreds of years climbing has developed a reputation as being safe and reliable. Climbers are trained to use bolts as an alternative to traditional climbing shoes.
As a recreation, traditional climbing has its advantages
there are many more routes to explore, traditional equipment lasts longer than sport climbing shoes, and it allows climbers to gain more experience. It also allows new and experienced climbers to learn the sport from people who are more experienced than them. One of the disadvantages of traditional climbing is that because of the nature of the climbing it is usually done on steep and challenging rock faces. Many climbers fall off and do not make it back to the top because their ability to scale certain types of faces is simply not enough.
Sport climbing allows climbers to achieve certain goals. First, sport climbers need more technical and specialized equipment than traditional climbers. Sport climbers need protection bolts because sport climbing typically involves climbing without protection boots. Protection bolts are made of nylon and allow the climbing rope to be pulled tight when the climber makes the connection with the anchor point or belay device. Without protection bolts, the rope would eventually strip away from the foot and throw the climber off balance.
The sport of rock climbing can be challenging for people of all fitness levels. Rock climbing involves a great deal of physical strength and stamina. Many sport climbers train for years before they reach a level where they are able to take on the challenges of the sport. Some people who can climb easily are able to progress to more advanced levels of climbing much faster than others.
It can be very expensive to pursue sport climbing. Insurance is often not accepted for sport climbing. Shoes, clothing, helmets, chalk bags and climbing equipment are usually not covered by insurance. Also, climbing equipment can be very expensive. Even when gear is insured, it may be sold at a discount because it is considered a high-risk activity.
Because of all the risk involved, sport climbers are not allowed to place significant amounts of equipment on the rock face they are going to climb. Climbing techniques are different than traditional methods and this can pose a climbing hazard. For example, placing gear on an ice cave wall requires the use of a haul line, a traditional way. Cams are also a common feature of many sport climbing trips.
Free climbing involves not being tied into anything and is a completely solo pursuit. It is an extremely popular sport. With free climbing you do not have the extra weight and equipment that you need to bring with you to the mountain. You can move at your own pace and you are not limited by gear or safety regulations. Most climbers enjoy the sense of freedom that free climbing gives them.
Traditional climbing requires bolts and is usually done on rock faces that have handholds or steep grades. Bolts are placed through a series of gear loops so that they can be pulled through as necessary to complete the climb. This process requires strong ropes and a steady hand. Many sport climbers use advanced techniques to aid their progress, such as pulleys, finger locks and bouldering. The most recent trend in sport climbing is what is called mountaineering which involves using ropes and harnesses to aid your progress up a rock face.
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