Rock Climbing Is Not Something You Can Climb

March 30, 2024
David Sunnyside

You’ve seen pictures of world-class climbers hanging from ropes hundreds of feet above the ground – and for good reason. But rock climbing is actually a highly nuanced sport with many different disciplines, each requiring unique gear and training. And it’s not just about the physical challenge – climbing is about balancing in precarious positions on small, often-fingertip-sized holds. It’s about overcoming obstacles that can include thin cracks with little to grab onto, overhangs that demand immense strength to traverse and changing conditions like wind and temperature that can make even easy routes difficult to scale.

One of the biggest things that separates great climbers from beginners is their sense of balance. Climbers learn how to control their center of gravity on the wall by analyzing and then controlling how they move and where they place their body mass. The best climbers can also make difficult moves seem effortless. One way to gauge a climber’s sense of balance is by watching how their knees point – they should rarely be pointed directly at the wall, and their shoulders and hips shouldn’t be erect.

Climbers also use a system of ratings to classify routes and climbing difficulty. The highest-level routes are called 5.10, which require an advanced level of climbing shoes and experienced technique. To get there, you have to master the basics, including how to stem – which is shifting your weight using counter pressure to stay in position – mantle – which is moving your feet up to meet hands, and flagging – when you stack all your weight on one side of the body to keep from swinging away.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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