New to aid climbing? Here’s a roundabout of useful aid climbing resources to get you started. Let’s start with the definition of aid climbing according to Wiki.
Aid climbing is a style of climbing in which standing on or pulling oneself up via devices attached to fixed or placed protection is used …
Aid Climbing on YouTube
In this SuperTopo how to big wall climb article, Chris McNamara shows the basic technique for moving efficiently move up the piece while aid climbing.
Other blogs on aid climbing
Some time ago, we ran an article on basic aid climbing technique. We introduced aid climbing with a little breakdown of what it is all about and with a couple of videos.
Peak Cavern is an impressive limestone cavern located in Castleton, the Peak District. Often referred to as ‘The Devil’s Arse’ it is a major tourist attraction as well as being the perfect opportunity for a bit of aid climbing!
Aid Climbing, Free Climbing, and Free Soloing · Alli Rainey. Learn what the differences are between three of the most common styles of rock climbing. Styles covered include aid climbing, free climbing, and free solo climbing.
The safest method of rock climbing is aid climbing. Equipment is used for all handholds and all footholds, meaning that the climber is assisted every step of the way. When rock climbing first began, this method allowed for ascents that were …
Aid Climbing Equipment
Essential Traditional Climbing Equipment · GriGri · Rigorous Rock Climbing – Mazes for Kids · All About Aiders — Essential Aid Climbing Equipment
Essential Traditional Climbing Equipment · Your Personal Aid Climbing Gear — Essential Aid Climbing Equipment
Aid climbing is a style of climbing where the climber actually uses protection to hang from and pull on to climb harder sections of rock…
Typically a rope is “static”, meaning it will not stretch or distort during the use for which it is intended. Ropes used for rescue operations, or accessing caves, need to be rigid as any flexibility will only serve to complicate the nature of the operation at hand. Not so the climbing rope, which is “dynamic”, meaning that it will stretch under the impact of a heavy load so as to absorb the energy needed to arrest a person who is in free fall without causing such a drastic impact as to injure them.
Dynamic climbing ropes will normally use a kernmantle construction, having a kern of long twisted fibres at the centre with a braided outer sheath which is of mantle. The kern provides most of the rope’s strength whilst the mantle acts to protect the kern and defines the handling properties of the rope, limiting its stretch and ensuring its strength under the weight of the climber.
The use of ropes for climbing actually dates back to prehistoric times, although it is believed that in the earliest instances at least the “ropes” would actually have comprised simple lengths of naturally occurring plant fibre or vines. However purpose-made two ply rope itself has been discovered which is thought to date back some 17,000 years.
Production of rope with tools is thought to date back in the first instance to Ancient Egypt. There is evidence of it too in China, and in the Middle Ages rope making became an established industry throughout Western Europe.
Specialist suppliers of modern climbing ropes
Modern climbing ropes are designed and manufactured by specialist suppliers such as Mammut and Beal. Needless to say they are made to perfect scientific specifications and are available in a variety of forms and quantities to satisfy most climbing needs. Rope is usually provided either on a reel or in a pack, and although supremely functional will also be lightweight and portable, made with the comfort of the already heavily laden climber firmly in mind. Thus the concept of biggest is best is not always applicable where climbing ropes are concerned, and it is recognised that the convenience of the climber calls for a product that is not going to occupy too much room on the person of the user.
The term ‘soft shell’ is used to describe a type of rock climbing outwear that is more comfortable, flexible and breathable than its predecessor, hard shell outwear, which has dominated the climbing gear market up until recently. Essentially, soft shell clothing bridges the gap between waterproof hard shell items, which are restrictive and do not allow air to circulate and fleeces, which are light and breathable, but obviously not waterproof.
Why soft shell has begun to replace hard shell clothing:
Hard shell clothing is made using laminate, which is applied to outerwear such as trousers and jackets. This laminate makes the fabric waterproof, which is ideal for those who enjoy climbing in wet climates; however, it also means that the clothing is not breathable. Even when a climber is outside in snowy, icy or wet conditions, they will often work up a sweat during a climb, as it is such a strenuous activity. This moisture then remains trapped inside the hard shell clothing and renders its waterproof qualities useless, as the climber becomes soaked in their own sweat. Not only is this very unpleasant, but in cold climates, this sweat will become cold and in extreme cases, could end up causing hypothermia.
Key advantages of soft shell clothing:
Soft shell jackets and trousers, such as those from Rab clothing, are made using sophisticated woven stretch fabrics, which are layered up and coated with a water repellent substance that protects the climber against the elements. In this sense they are very similar to hard shell clothing; however, because these fabrics allow the skin to breathe through the woven layers, the climber won’t ever endure the experience of climbing in sweat soaked clothes and will be better able to regulate their body temperature and remain comfortable whilst they make their way up the cliff face. Bear in mind though, that these woven soft shell clothing items are not fully waterproof; they provide basic protection for moderately wet conditions, but may not be sufficient for a heavy downpour. There are, however, a range of soft shell jackets and trousers that are made with a membrane, which makes them more waterproof than other types of soft shell clothing. The difference between these and hard shells is that they use a slightly loosened weave that improves breathability, but they will not be as breathable as stretch woven soft shell.
Aside from unmatched breathability, soft shell items from Rab clothing are also very flexible when compared with their hard shell counterparts. They fit the body without being restrictive and stretch to allow for more movement. The climber, when wearing this type of clothing, has a full range of motion, unlike with hard shell items, which impede their ability to move their body quickly. Lastly, soft shell is ideal for those who want to lighten their load by not wearing heavy hard shell jackets that weigh them down during a climb, without compromising on protection against the elements.
Rock climbing demands a lot from a climber, from the skills they need to keep their body on the rock, to the strength and endurance the sport requires. However, one of the most underrated aspects of this activity are the knots used for the ropes; climbers need to know at least four or five to ensure that their ropes remain secure during a climb and they don’t run the risk of falling from the cliff.
In terms of climbing gear, ropes are considered to be one of the most important pieces of equipment, however if the climber doesn’t know how to knot their ropes correctly, they’ll be putting themselves and their fellow climbers in danger. Here, we discuss a few of the most popular rope knots for rock climbing.
Simple, quick knots:
The Figure Eight knot is one of the strongest a climber can use and can be tied in two different ways – firstly, at the end of the rope (referred to as a ‘follow through’) and secondly in the middle (referred to as on the ‘bight’). Using a Figure Eight knot on a bight is one of the quickest and safest ways to create a loop in order to secure an object and it’s one of the simplest knots to tie as well.
The Clove Hitch is a knot used most often in setting up belays during a rock climbing session, as it’s very easy to adjust, unlike the aforementioned Figure Eight knot. With a little bit of practice, it can also be tied using just one hand.
Another common climbing knot is the Bowline, which is frequently used by rock climbers for fastening their climbing harnesses to the ends of their rope. Whilst the Bowline certainly isn’t the easiest knot to learn, it can be incredibly used for securing rope to almost any piece of climbing gear, something which cannot be said for other knots. Like the Clove Hitch, the Bowline, with some practice, can be tied using one hand.
One of the best knots for joining flat stretches of material (such as climbing belts or webbing) together is the Water knot, however it is also useful for joining two separate ropes together. Once this overhand knot has been tied onto the first piece of material, all the climber has to do is follow the webbing backwards through the knot from the other end. This is one of the quickest knots to tie.
A classic ascending climbing knot, the Prusik is often used during self rescue, however it’s also a practical choice for joining virtually any object to the rope. It’s easy to adjust as the climbing conditions on the rock formation change, yet will continue to securely grip the other rope, regardless of the weight of the climbing gear hanging from. It is tied by using a rope loop, which can then be secured onto itself using either a fisherman’s or a Water knot.
There is an element of thrill and danger in each climb. Fortunately, there are wardrobe choices and specific equipment you can use to make each ascend and descend much safer. Items like helmet liners seem simple at first glance, but as an avid rock climber, you may reach a point where you will realize just how useful these accessories are to your safety.
Any climber who wants to have an enjoyable and well-organized climb should consider picking up a quality liner. If you haven’t bought one for yourself just yet, you should know that they are very useful because they also make your helmet more comfortable. Though most helmets have foam inside, it is not enough to protect your head from falling rocks or other harmful debris during a climb.
Apart from making things easier on you comfort wise, helmet liners also offer another layer of protection. Even rock climbing trips in warm areas are besieged with the possibility of sudden temperature drops. The liners would be able to keep the cold away especially if you are going to buy one made from insulating fabric. There are even some styles that are meant to give extra protection to your ears making them the perfect accessory for climbing on windy mountainsides.
Many climbers use helmet liners, but you don’t have to be halfway up on a mountain to start wearing them. If you are living in an area where the climate is cold, you can use them to wear with your regular cold weather outfits. Some liners are not suitable for use without a helmet, but the ones that are can be worn even if you are just on your way to your local grocer. Even with sweat, clean up is extremely easy. Most liners do not need any special care or treatment for washing.
New climbers that have no experience in rock climbing or mountaineering in general may discredit the use of liners because some cheap liners can be stiff or uncomfortable for wearing. The secret to making sure that liners offer the most comfort is to get them in the right size. Manufacturers usually offer their own size charts. If you are going to purchase helmet liners, be ready to measure the span of your head and compare it to the charts provided by sellers. This tip will ensure you are completely comfortable and totally protected when you climb.