THE SPORT of free climbing---climbing rocks
using equipment for safety only---has grown very popular: hundreds of
thousands of people practice the sport in the U.S. alone. Its
popularity has grown in part because of advances in climbing equipment
that make climbing safer.
These pages discuss the sport of free climbing---rock climbing using equipment for safety only. The sport presents a physical and mental challenge with minimal danger. Because of the potential for serious injury, much specialized safety equipment has been devised, making it a very safe sport in most cases. Detailed knowledge of safety equipment is crucial for safe climbing, however, and requires an attention to detail absent in many other sports.
These pages describe some of the safety equipment used in free climbing and two common techniques for using it. In one technique, top-roping, a rope from the top of the climb always holds the climber, making most slips harmless. In the other technique, lead climbing, the climber attaches the rope to the rock at points along the climb. This is not as safe, it allows more routes to be climbed.
These pages also describe how to get started in the sport. Finding a place to climb is easily done with one of the many available guidebooks. How to use equipment safely is best learned from an experienced climber, although some books are available.
To the uninitiated, climbing can seem intimidating, but most beginners are surprised at how quickly they can get started. Fundamentally, it is not that much different from climbing trees, something most of us did as children. The difference is that good rock is more trustworthy than a tree.
Comments and questions should be addressed to