ROCK CLIMBING IN IRELAND
PLEASE NOTE: ROCK CLIMBING HAS A MINIUM GROUP BOOKING OF 4 PEOPLE!
Rock climbing, broadly speaking, is the act of ascending steep rock formations. Normally, climbers use gear and safety equipment specifically designed for the purpose. Strength, endurance, and mental control are required to cope with tough, dangerous physical challenges, and knowledge of climbing techniques and the use of essential pieces of gear and equipment are crucial. Although rock climbing is an outdoor activity many cities are home to indoor rock climbing gyms which can be formatted to match the physical (but not necessarily mental or technical) skill level needed for outdoor climbing.
We have the opportunity to learn and practice this skill a couple of times while on our trips. Once again no experience is required as our trained guides will rope you up and tie you in.
We can climb on the not so difficult areas around the Burren in Co. Clare or indeed something a little more spectacular on the Dingle peninsula. If you are in Dublin for just a weekend or would like a corporate team building day out, this is ideal for you. We offer 1 day rock climbing in Dalkey quarry. As our team is mobile we can travel to numerous venues around the country so come on guys, give us a call!
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- Rock climbing basics
Climbing a rock-textured wall with belay, modular hand holds, incuts, and protrusions.
Climbers usually work in pairs, with one climbing and the other belaying. The belayer feeds rope to the lead climber through a belay device. The leader climbs up, places protection, climbs higher and places protection until the top is reached. The belayer is ready to "lock off" the rope if the leader falls.
Both climbers attach the rope to their climbing harness, usually tying into their harness with a figure-eight knot or double bowline knot. The leader either places protection or clips into permanent protection already secured to the rock. In traditional climbing, the protection is removable. Usually nuts or Spring-loaded camming device (often referred to as "friends") are set in cracks in the rock (although pitons are sometimes used). In sport climbing the protection is metal loops called hangers. Hangers are secured to the rock with either expanding masonry bolts taken from the construction industry, or by placing glue-in bolt systems. In ice climbing the protection is Ice Screw or similar devices hammered or screwed into the ice by the leader, and removed by the second climber.
The lead climber typically connects the rope to the protection with carabineers. If the lead climber falls, he will fall twice the length of the rope out from the last protection point, plus rope stretch (typically 5% to 8% of the rope out), plus slack. If any of the gear breaks or pulls out of the rock or if the belayer fails to lock off the belay device immediately, the fall will be significantly longer. Thus if a climber is 2 meters above the last protection he will fall 2 meters to the protection, 2 meters below the protection, plus slack and rope stretch, for a total fall of over 4 meters.
If the leader falls, the belayer arrests the rope. This is achieved by running the rope through a belay device attached to the belayer's harness. The belay device runs the rope through a series of sharp curves that, when operated properly, greatly increase the friction and stop the rope from running. Some of the more popular types of belay devices are the ATC Belay Device, the Figure 8 and various auto-locking belay devices such as the Petzl Gri-Gri.
At the top of the pitch, the leader sets up a secure anchor system, also called a belay, from where he can belay as his partner climbs. The second climber removes the gear from the rock (traditional climbing) or removes the carabineer from the bolted hanger (sport climbing). Both climbers are now at the top of the pitch with all their equipment. Note that the second is protected from above while climbing, but the leader is not, so being the leader is more challenging and dangerous.
Occasionally, climbers may decide to "move together", a risky but speedy technique also called simul-climbing, in which both leader and second move at the same time without stopping to belay. The leader - approximately a rope length above the second - usually places multiple pieces of protection as he climbs so that the weight of the second climber might arrest a possible leader's fall. Should it be the second climber to fall, however, the leader may be pulled from his holds, with potentially unpleasant results.
Types of Rock Climbing
Rock climbing may be divided into two broad categories: free climbing and aid climbing.
- Free climbing requires the climber use only natural features of the rock formation.
- Aid climbing involves using artificial devices placed in the rock to support all or part of the climber's body weight, and is normally practised on rock formations that lack necessary natural features suitable for free climbing.
Free climbing may be further subdivided as follows:
Traditional lead climbing, or "Trad lead climbing", uses mostly removable protection, but also may employ fixed bolts if these were put in on the lead. The climbing team begins at the bottom of a climb and ascends to the top, with the leader placing protective devices in the rock as he or she climbs. If the climber falls, he/she does not rest on the rope and instead lowers to a stance or the ground to start over. This approach of protection and climbing progress emphasizes the exploratory aspect of the sport and requires a certain amount of boldness. Trad leading is considered by many to be the cleanest style, as the climber to follow the leader, called the second, or sometimes cleaner, removes the protective devices (except any fixed bolts put in on lead) and leaves but marginal traces (if any at all) of their passage.
Sport lead climbing involves the use of pre-placed, permanent bolts for protection. This frees the leader from carrying excessive gear - he/she merely clips in to the bolts with quickdraws. However, permanent protective devices, like bolts and fixed pitons, are subject to dislodgment or decay over time and thus may become an insidious hazard for a leader. In case of a fall, sport climbers often rest on the rope before beginning again. Hard sport climbs often entail many falls and rests before being completed without falls and rests. In contrast, traditional style employs no rests on the rope, starting over after falls without rope tension and generally a minimal number of falls.
Top rope climbing, or top-roping, involves suspending a rope from an anchor located at the top of a short climb. The climber is then safeguarded by his belayer who holds the rope either at the top of the route or at the base of the climb.
Bouldering may be described as climbing short, severe routes on boulders or small outcrops. While safety ropes from above are occasionally used, most boulderers feel that the most ethical form of protection is a bouldering mat or pad similar to those used by gymnasts. In addition, other climbers standing on the ground may "spot" the boulderer, to help break his fall.
Indoor climbing is a form of climbing that can involve bouldering, top roping, and leading in an indoor environment on wood or plastic holds. For most it will be the easiest way to begin the sport.
Free solo climbing: Usually describes free climbing without a rope or other protective gear. Free solo climbing is distinguished from solo climbing where a climber progressing alone uses a rope and protection devices including a self belay system.
Short (one-pitch) climbs on the Calico Hills, west of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rappelling (also known as abseiling from the German ab - down or off + seil - rope) is a common method for returning to the bottom of a completed climb. On climbs where rappelling is impractical or disallowed the alternative is usually either walking out from the top of the climb, or down climbing.
Main article: Grade (climbing)
Climbing communities in many countries, as well as individual regions, have developed their own climbing rating systems. Ratings are a method to communicate or record the consensus difficulty of climbs. The more refined systems exist in areas where the routes have been ascended many times, by many climbers. Nevertheless, the perceived difficulty of a climb may vary from person to person, depending upon individual strengths and weaknesses. For a climber very good at pulling on large holds, for example, a 5.11a "jug" route will probably seem a little easier than it would for another climber whose specialty is balance-climbing on small holds.
There are three considerations that are commonly addressed by a rating system:
- How hard is the hardest move? (pure technical difficulty).
- How sustained is the route? (how much stamina you need to climb the route).
- How dangerous is the climb? (what the chance of injury is upon making a mistake while climbing).
- Hiking, Bouldering, Roped free climbing, and Aid climbing all share these factors to one degree or another.
In the US the most common grading system for climbs is the Yosemite Decimal System. Protection such as ropes and other gear (bolts, trad gear, and quickdraws/runners) is used. Falls are most often arrested by the protection. An unarrested fall could likely be fatal. The scale goes from 5.0 (easiest) to 5.15 (hardest). From 5.10-5.15 the grades are further broken down into a, b, c, and d (a being easier than b). So that 5.11a is only slightly more difficult than 5.10d.
Commonly in the U.S. a rock climbing route will have a safety rating. There are two common sets of warnings: 1) PG-13, R, and X 2) S and VS. These systems are designed to warn a climber reading a guide book that the distance between placement, the stance to place protection, or the quality of the protection may be less than desirable. S, P-13, and R mean that a climber competent at the grade of the route will find the climbing scary and a fall could easily result with serious consequences like a broken ankle. VS and X mean that all of the conditions while climbing will be worse than the other ratings, and a fall would be very serious possibly resulting in death or severe injury.
Many existing systems deal only with one or two of the factors cited above -- some emphasize the technical difficulty, some the endurance. Other systems (such as John Gill's "B" system) are partially based on the number of ascents the climb has had. The result is a complicated situation in which comparison of climbs from one region to another -- particularly if the types of rock differ -- can be tenuous. See the main article for details of the various systems, and a comparison chart.
Casual scramblers unfamiliar with grading systems (and climbing equipment) sometimes find themselves in awkward, if not dangerous situations.
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Extreme Irelands 1 day Rock Climbing Trip in Dublin!