Rock climbing is an exceptional sport because when you are hanging off the face of a cliff, there really is not any other way to define it. Once you get the hang of it, then it is a fantastic experience. If nothing else, there is usually a great view!
Late 19th century marks the initiation of rock climbing. The earliest home for the rock climbers was Colorado and the place became famous for climbing at the turn of the 20th century.
During the initial stages, rock climbing was considered a part of mountaineering and mountaineers indulged in rock climbing as preparation for climbing expeditions. Initial climbers of Germany and Great Britain were crazy about this sport and set remarkable standards in climbing. Rock climbing gained popularity in the year 1920, in United States.
There are basically two main types of rock climbing techniques, aid climbing and free climbing. One of the most basic forms, a free climb is a climb without support. In a free climb, the climbers use their fingers to grasp the cracks, edges and flakes and they also use shoes made of sticky rubber soles for additional support. To prevent serous falls the climbers use ropes or other forms of protection. Free climbing was the only method during the early days. Earlier climbers used equipment only when they were unable to advance beyond a difficult move.
In aid climbing, the climbers use equipment and to support their body weight while they ascend on pitches they use ropes and hardware. Aid climbers also use pulleys and tools to move gear up the rock wall and slings or etires to rest in.
American climbers discovered that the piton, which they used in aid climbing considerably, damaged the rocks. This then led to the invention of slinging machine nuts, the alternative to the piton in the mid 1960s. During the early 1980s, they began combining the aid and free methods in France. This combination reduces the difficulty in climbing, thus making climbing styles much better.
Throughout the 60s and 70s, the United States was considered as the pioneers in rock climbing, and many dedicated climbers worked towards improving rock-climbing techniques. It was only recently that climbing was declared a sport. Nowadays, this sport now uses the most advanced climbing equipment, as compared to the older climbing techniques. As this sport is growing in popularity, climbers chose harder individual moves and harder routes. In the 1980s, a new safety gear was invented to ensure the safety of the climbers as the new trend was to undertake short ascents. Due to the introduction of indoor walls, rock-climbing techniques now this sport can be practiced without risking the hostile terrain outside.
During the recent years, due to success and tragedies associated with mountaineering activities, there have been tremendous improvements in climbing equipment. The sports popularity has resulted in some countries introducing climbing permits. The Access Fund is the national organization that helps climbers gain access to the climbing areas and also assists in handling the environmental problems associated with cliffs in the United States.