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Rock climbing has become a nation and even worldwide craze. People are coming to the sport in droves because it offers exercise and excitement at the same time. Do you see the appeal? If not, perhaps you should take a look at exactly rock climbing actually involves. You never know, you may be lining up to be a part of the crowd in no time flat.
Those who have attempted rock climbing before will tell you that it is many things, but easy is not one of those things. Most people, on their first attempt, come away feeling defeated by the sport. What beginners soon realize, whether they try indoor climbing or outdoor climbing, is that this sport requires an incredible amount of physical and mental energy. It is perhaps the most completely demanding sport around.
There are three basic types of rock climbing you can try. The first is called top roping and is perhaps the most common. In top roping you climb with a partner. From the ground, the partner has a rope from his harness up to the top of the rock and then back down to you as you climb. The second type of rock climbing is called lead climbing. In lead climbing you are still with another person and there are still ropes and pulleys. The difference is that the rope is not at the top of the wall, but it is instead hooked into clasps.
The third type of rock climbing is completely different. It is called bouldering, and there are no ropes or harnesses. As a climber, you will likely stay closer to the ground as you climb around and across the rock more than up the rock. There will generally be a route of some sort that you can complete without much resting. In some cases, you will be required to do what rock climbers call a dyno. In a dyno, you leap off the wall and grab onto a hold that is beyond your reach. This is why many will say that bouldering is the most mentally demanding of all the types of rock climbing.
Interestingly, experienced rock climbers will tell you that it is predominantly a leg activity. About three fourths of your work should be done by your legs, and then one fourth by your arms. The key to climbing well is to have solid technique. One major technique rule that you will learn early on is to at all times have three points (each hand and each foot is a point) touching the wall. There is an enormous difference between having your weight on three points as opposed to two. A second rule of technique is to always climb with your feet. Your hands will hold you to the wall, but should never be doing the pulling, and since your legs are stronger, it is a more efficient way to climb anyway. Thirdly, it is important to remember that the closer your body is to the wall the easier it will be for you to climb. With lots of practice, you will see that it is all this thinking and strategy that has helped make rock climbing one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
When you first begin climbing, no matter how well you have been taught technique, it is a good idea to start with one of the first two types. They are easier and by forcing you to have a buddy with you are safer as well. As you develop technique and strength you will find that you can then more easily move into bouldering if that is something you desire to try.
You may feel like rock climbing seems awfully extreme for a regular Joe like you, but it is quite the workout. As you get further into the sport, learn technique, body positions, and even how to shift your weight, you will see that your mental sharpness will improve as well. If you like to get out and work, but also enjoy chess or other strategy games, you will find that rock climbing is right up your alley. It is not enough to be strong or in shape, and it is not enough to be smart, you have to be strong and sharp.
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