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9 Types of Rock Climbing

Learn about the different types of rock climbing

In this article, you will learn about the different types of rock climbing so you can decide which one(s) you want to try.

Rock climbing is a fun way to keep fit and learn what could be lifesaving skills. Beginner rock climbing is something most people can do, and for those seeking a little more thrill, it can present many more challenges. 

Rock Climbing Styles Video

Here’s an abridged version of this post in video format for those of you that prefer to watch than read. The complete article continues below the video.

Health Benefits of Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is one of the fastest growing adventure sports, and aside from being a fun activity, it can also give you a number of health benefits. Below are just some of them.

Boost Brain Function

A common reason for getting into rock climbing is because it is a fun and challenging way to keep fit, but did you know that it also has a positive effect on your brain? 

Activities like rock climbing, whether it is outdoor or indoor rock climbing, engages your mind in problem-solving. You need to choose your route depending on your ability and also decide the best techniques to use to reach the top safely. You may also need to figure out the best way to do rescues and other technical skills, depending on how involved you want to get in the sport. 

Improve Strength and Cardio

Doing repetitions and sets in the gym can sometimes be boring. Getting into rock climbing gives you a full-body workout and is a good alternative to cardio and strength training. The constant movement and energy needed to keep yourself from falling while rock climbing burns a lot of calories and will keep you toned. 

Conquer Your Fears

It is normal for us to feel fear in the face of danger. That’s how the human brain is designed to keep us safe. According to numerous studies, the better you can control your fear, the better you are able to handle stress and anxiety. Rock climbing is not a dangerous sport if you follow the correct safety procedures, but it is not uncommon for people to fear climbing higher than they want to fall, even with ropes attached. 

Continuing to push through that fear barrier well get you accustomed to it and eventually you will conquer it. 

Euphoric Feeling

Having bad days can be tiring. Rock climbing is a great way to free the mind from negativity and reset your mood. 

You can feel a mixture of excitement, adrenaline, happiness, and satisfaction which has positive effects on your mental health.

Outdoors climbing also means getting out into nature which is a stress reducer in itself.

Conditioning for Rock Climbing

Though rock climbing on its own can be a great workout for strength and cardio, to do technical moves beyond basic rock climbing techniques requires additional conditioning. The following are some of the best exercises for rock climbing:

  • ​SFP Superburpees
  • ​Pull-ups and dead hangs
  • ​Single-leg squats
  • ​Leg-lunges
  • ​Planking
  • ​Leg-lifts
  • ​Push-ups
  • ​Tricep dips

Different Types of Rock Climbing

There are quite a few different types of rock climbing, each with varying degrees of difficulty. The list below will help you to choose the ones that are best suited for you to try. 

1. Bouldering

Bouldering is when you climb without any ropes or special equipment. Instead, you stay close to the ground so if you fall it isn’t too far. Using a safety mat (known as a “crash mat” is an additional safety measure. 

Bouldering is a good way to try out specific rock climbing techniques and/or solve specific problems you have on a route. It is also a great way to practice climbing when you don’t have the equipment for other types of climbing.

You can do bouldering either in your local rock climbing gym or outdoors on natural rock formations.

2. Aid Climbing

Aid climbing uses rock climbing equipment to assist a climber in his ascent or descent. This is the recommended type of climbing for beginners or when mastering routes you later want to free climb.

There are several different types of aid climbing and each of them are explained in this article. The common factor is that they use equipment as opposed to free climbing which uses no equipment (like bouldering).

3. Roped Climbing

Top Rope Climbing or roped climbing uses rock climbing rope and belaying as a safety measure while you ascend. This is a great choice to practice climbing technique for beginners and is also used by advanced climbers if lead climbing is not possible.

The rope passes through an anchor at the top of the climb and is connected to a belayer at the bottom. It is the belayers job to pull in the slack rope as you ascend. This minimizes your drop if you lose your hold.

4. Sport Climbing

Sport climbing is a type of competitive rock climbing that usually involves lead climbing techniques to reach the top. Sport routes focus on the difficulty of the moves and do not require placing protection as you climb. Instead, bolts are pre-placed and you use quickdraws to connect to them so if you fall the rope can catch you.

If you are looking to try sport climbing, you must practice a lot and find ways of how to improve rock climbing techniques you’ve been using in order to beat your competition.

5. Trad Climbing

Trad climbing is when the rock does not have bolts pre-placed. Instead, you place safety gear into cracks in the rocks as you climb. In trad climbing, it is more about route-finding and requires you to have knowledge of the equipment. 

Trad climbing is a good thing to learn for all climbers because doing it will give you the experiences to recognize the best routes and where to plant bolts.

If you are experienced in trad climbing, you will find all other types of climbing easier.

6. Free Climbing

Free climbing relies primarily on the skill of the climber. Rock climbing safety equipment such as rope, bolts, and quickdraws may be used, but not to assist the climber in his ascent.

One great example of free climbing is when Alex Honnald free climbed one of the hardest climbs in the world-El Capitan. It should be noted however, that before he did that, most of the routes had first been completed by aid climbers.

7. Free Solo Climbing

Free solo rock climbing is often referred to as the purest form of climbing. Some consider it as extreme rock climbing. Unlike free rock climbing, free solo climbing uses no safety equipment or climbing aids and a single mistake could lead to serious injury or death. 

8. Deep Water Soloing

Deep water soloing is a type of cliff rock climbing similar to free soloing. The difference is that an individual will be climbing over water instead of the ground, which makes it safer in case you fall. 

However, there are other risks from falling into water, especially if you lose consciousness. Never go deep water solo climbing without a safety and knowledgeable team members. 

9. Ice Climbing

Ice climbing or ice wall climbing is climbing on ice formations such as icy rock faces,  icefalls, and frozen waterfalls. When doing an ice climb, safety equipment and technical knowledge of equipment use and rescue is important.


Rock climbing for beginners can be a challenge, but by knowing the various types of beginner rock climbing methods, you can choose one that is best for you. Bouldering or aid climbing is a good type of rock climbing to start with, and there are numerous gyms with rock climbing walls for you to practice. If you are looking for a bit more adventure, you can try outdoor rock climbing too.

Once you are comfortable with the basic techniques and safety, you may want to participate in lead climbing and perhaps even sports climbing.

And finally, for the more extreme minded, one of the types of solo climbing is something you can work up to.

Rock climbing is a great activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle while having fun. However, you must also keep in mind that safety always comes first. It is important to learn the basics of rock climbing, the various types of rock climbing equipment, as well as how to safely use it.

Did you find this article about the types of rock climbing useful? If so, please share it with your friends.

Article by Sam Fury

Sam Fury 3 png
Sam Fury 3 png

Sam Fury is the creator and owner of the Survival Fitness Plan.

He has had a passion for martial arts and outdoor pursuits since he was a young boy growing up in Australia.

As a young adult he joined the military and studied outdoor leadership in college. After that, to further his skills, Sam started traveling to learn from the best in the world in various fields related to the Survival Fitness Plan including various martial arts in China, SE Asia and Brazil, Parkour in Singapore, Surf Life Saving in Australia, and others. 

These days, he still enjoys learning new things, traveling and sharing what he has learned via the Survival Fitness Plan. 

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