Early man was a climber. They climbed to escape predators, enemies, and look for food. In the 1700’s man began climbing just for fun. Certain men decided they wanted to climb the largest peaks just to say they did so. The summit (top of the mountain) was the ultimate goal for these first mountaineers. Glaciers and Snow covered slopes provided the most natural passage to the top. To provide some safety to these mountaineers ropes were introduced. “Free Climbing” became the style of most climbers as they used only their hands and feet. Americans’ started designing light and effective protective equipment. Rope manufacturers worked to improve the strength, and durability of their ropes, which were safer for climbers. Today’s best sport climbers often climb the hardest routes by first climbing down the cliff to practice, inspect and plan their route. Today competitive rock climbers compete against the clock and/or each other on man-made artificial walls.
Rating the Difficulty of the Climb
The American rating system below is used around the world. The system breaks a climb down in to 6 different classes and 6 different grades.
6 Class: 1. Walking 2. Hiking 3. Scrambling 4. Climbing is risky enough that a fall could be fatal. 5. “Free Climbing” 6. Rocks so sheer that “Free Climbing” is impossible.
Grades of a Climb
6 Grades: 1. 1-3 Hours 2. 3-4 Hours 3. 4-6 Hours or half-a-day 4. Full Day - emphasis on full 5. 1-2 Days - Overnight stay unavoidable 6. 2 or more days on the mountain.
Free Climbing Skills
Body position - Keep your weight over your feet.
Footwork - good footwork is a climber’s most important asset. There are 3 basic foot positions: 1. Smearing 2. Edging 3. Toeing-In