Daniel Wade (Rock Climbing Manager) gives expert video advice on: What is 'top-rope' rock climbing?; What is 'sport climbing'?; What kind of equipment do I need in top-rope climbing? and more...
What is 'top-rope' rock climbing?
Top-rope rock climbing is a style of climbing that involves setting up an anchor before the climbing is done and that anchor point is at the top of the climb. So a belay system will be put in place, where climbers can move up the rock, but they will have constant tension on their rope because the belayer is able to pull their rope through an anchor point at the top of the climb. And then when they reach the top of the climb they can be lowered off of the same anchor.
What is 'sport climbing'?
Sport Climbing is a system of climbing that involves routs that are pre-bolted which means that bolts are sunk into the rock at intermediate points of protection. You will be leading the climb and clipping through the bolts and the rope through the other end. It's a safe way of lead climbing because the bolts are usually placed pretty close together, however the climbing is generally difficult in itself because bolts are usually used where there are no cracks to place other protection, so it tends to be steep and overhanging and a very athletic style of climbing.
What is a 'belay' in rock climbing?
A belay is a system of braking the rope while a climber is moving on the rock. Generally we'll have a belay device that's attached to our belay donut on our harness, which the rope feeds through and acts as a braking mechanism. So as climbers move up the rock, you pull the rope through the belay device and if they fall and there's a friction that's created by pulling on the belay device. Which essentially acts as a brake and stops the falling climber or holds them in place.
What is the basic belaying communication lingo used while rock climbing?
Once you've tied into the rope and the belayer has put his end of the rope throw the belay device, one person will ask if the belay is on. That would be the lead climber, or the climber on the top rope. And the belayer will say either yes or no. And so the climber has to make sure that the belayer is locked off and that the belayer is ready to go, and his break hand is on the rope. And then the belayer also needs to be checking that the climber is tied in properly, and that all the slack has been taken out of the system. And then before the climber starts to climb, he's going to tell the belayer that he's climbing, and the belayer is either going to say "climb on" or "hold up a second" or... And then also while the climber is climbing, if he wants the rope to be more taut, then he's going to yell "take." If he wants it to be a little bit looser, he'll tell the belayer to give him slack.
What is the proper way to lower a climber down the rock?
The proper way to lower somebody is going to depend on the type of belay device you're using. With most non-auto locking, standard-placket style belay devices you're probably going to want to then transition your feeding hand onto the break hand as well so you have two hands on the break end. And you're going to want to have the climber lean back so that he's more horizontal to the rock so he's pushing off with his feet and you're going to be lowering him at a speed that's comfortable for the climber, not too slow, not too fast. Try not to make it jerky, stay as smooth as possible is the best. But the important thing is to be communicating with your climber.