Climbing has evolved through the years, from being an alpine necessity to an actual athletic sport. It developed sub disciplines that people can choose from, may they be professional athletes or an average teen. Some types are more dangerous than others (who in their right minds would climb solo 40-50 feet from the ground with no protection at all). Don’t fret--you can still enjoy the sport by going to climbing gyms and exploring beginner crags and walls. But if you’ve tried climbing in whatever form it might be and want to explore its vast world, check out these types to give yourself a challenge.
Aid climbing, simply put, is a style of climbing where devices are fixed when free climbing is no longer an option. Extremely steep walls can be demanding to climb and long routes can be mentally exhausting, so special ladder-like equipment called aiders are used to make the ascent or descent.
Aid climbing may not seem as physically demanding, but don’t underestimate climbers who practice this type. Generally, aid climbers have a better eye for placing equipment, since you’re placing more gear on the wall, compared to traditional and sports climbing.
Traditional climbing involves carrying and placing protection or pro, rather than clipping into preplaced bolts. This type of climbing was considered the “original” type of climbing, since Sports Climbing only started recently (1980s). Ethically, trad climbing preserves the natural environment of the rock since there is little or no trace of use post-climbing.
What you develop: Trad climbers have excellent route-finding skills, since you climb without the guide of preset routes. Adequate knowledge on anchors are important to maintain safety, so your equipment know-how will significantly develop as well.
Sport Climbing is the type where all protection and anchor points are installed already pre-climb. Since less equipment and technical skills are required, this type emphasizes on the physical aspect of the climbing.
What you develop: since your mental stress level is significantly lessened, your strength, endurance, and technique take center stage. You get to enjoy the thrill of the pre-set routes that are graded on difficulty. Climbers tend to climb "easy" walls 3-5x in a row to gain endurance, while others climb the "hard" walls to train their technique.
Bouldering has a world of its own, to be honest. It's a form of climbing done on small rock formations or artificial ones called boulders, without the use of equipment. Climbers simply depend on their climbing shoes and chalk to secure holds. Boulders are usually at 15-20 feet high which can still result to injuries, so bouldering mats are placed below for safety.
What you develop: bouldering is practiced by solving "problems". Their technique is developed a lot as they determine solutions statically or dynamically. Their grip strength is improved as well since more varied holds are used.
Free Solo Climbing
Free solo climbing is bouldering taken to the extreme. Soloists (climbers who practice this type) climb above safe heights without using any ropes, harness, or any other protective equipment. A fall will surely cause serious injury or death.
Note: soloists are trained and well-seasoned climbers, so beginners and the faint-hearted are not recommended to try this form of climbing. Many has died soloing, but ultimately no one can withhold the fact that free climbing is liberating, and no thrill can match finishing a wall using just sheer skill.
Deep Water Solo Climbing
Deep-Water Soloing is a type of solo rock climbing that has protection, that protection being the water body at the base of the climb. It could be the sea, rivers, or reservoirs. Routes are generally graded at high difficulty.
Note: Though the water is considered as the protection, the fall can still cause injuries: the descent can knock-out climbers or even drowning.
Everyone has varying preferences and they may prefer a certain climbing type than others. This does not mean one form of climbing is better than the other, but rather some enhance certain skills more than others. Try exposing yourself to all of them and see where it goes.