Rock climbing did not start to become a sport in its own right until the latter part of the 1900s. At first, rock climbing was just a necessary part of mountain climbing: the set of techniques that one had to make use of in order to scale sheer rock faces. However, with climbing locations around the world that are specially suited to this and only this style of climbing, rock climbing has become a popular pastime. While rock climbing may still be necessary for some mountain ascents, most people who rock climb for fun climb at relatively low altitudes, where weather conditions and lack of oxygen are not major concerns and where attention can be focused on the techniques of climbing.
Usually when ascending a vertical surface, climbers work together in pairs. One of the rock climbers will move further up the face of the rock, while the other stays where he or she is. Both of the climbers will be linked by a rope, and the lower climber will give the upper climber a longer length of rope using a belaying device as the climber ascends (the length of rope between the two should be minimized in order to prevent the strength of sudden jerking motions which take place if one of the climbers drops). When the lead climber falls, the distance that he or she falls will be twice that of the length of rope between the lead climber and the climber belaying the rope. Modern climbing rope is designed with a certain degree of elasticity to help absorb the shock of a fall without breaking, and the rope is usually threaded through a series of sharp curves on a belay device which prevent the rope from running loose and the lead climber from falling any farther.
Once the lead climber has ascended a short vertical distance, he or she will set up an anchor system using bolted hangers and / or spring loaded cams to secure the belaying equipment on his end of the rope to the bold. After that, the lead climber will take a rest and become the second, while the second becomes the lead climber and passes by on the way up. By taking advantage of such a system, the process of climbing is made much safer, and as long as the belaying system is safely secured to the outcroppings and niches of the rock face both of the climbers should be able to protect each other with a safety line that is always in place. Only in special conditions should rock climbers attempt to "move together", or both climb at once, as this leaves them without a solid support and if one falls the other may be dragged off as well. When moving together, the lead climber will usually place a large number of handhold supports into the face of the rock to help the second hang on if there is an accident, but this is still very risky. Climbers must always remember to exercise proper safety precautions for a fun, controlled ascent.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Haycock is an information publisher, one of whose many hobbies is climbing. With recurring knee problems, including one replacement, making it no longer possible to physically climb, he spends a lot of time researching resources to help other climbers. For details of one amazing resource, go to http://www.climbingknowledge.com