My Climbing Experience and Different Types of Indoor Climbing


By Thomas Barrington-Craggs.

Climbing is a semi popular sport that involves a lot of physical and mental endurance. There are many different types of climbing. The first type of climbing that I will mention is indoor climbing. Indoor climbing is more practiced and competitive. Large sheets of plywood with a lot of little holes in it are mounted to a wall. Once attached in the appropriate position, plastic molded to different shapes, (these are called holds) are then bolted to the wall and are drilled into it. They are then used by a climber to ascend the wall.

Bouldering, which is one of the four different types of indoor climbing, does not require a rope, so I would say it is the most basic variation of climbing. Bouldering is named after climbing boulders, but inside a gym it can be very easy to very hard depending on the grade. Bouldering requires a lot of energy and generally shorter climbs, although there are many that are more than 30 feet high. I prefer bouldering because it is satisfying due to the length of the routes, and because many bouldering routes can be accomplished in a short amount of time.

Another sort of climbing is speed. This involves a lot of things: quick reflexes, good memory, and physical strength. The point of this version is to get to the top of the wall in record time. This well named variation is physically demanding, thanks to the large movements. In my category, there is no fixed climb and the gym where I compete, creates a relatively easy route. In the higher categories there is one pre-made route that never varies even in the slightest. I don’t really like speed climbing because it is very awkward to have an ever changing wall, but I am looking forward to when I am old enough to do a fixed route.

The next type of indoor climbing is top rope. Top rope is what you might have seen on  TV or in documentaries like “Real Rock.” It is done with a rope attached to an anchor that is firmly attached to the wall. I really like this sort of climbing because it is complicated and requires a lot of concentration and effort; but concentration is my specialty. When I say concentration, I mean putting everything aside to do something. I am quite comfortable doing this because doing things that are physically challenging do not hurt me and when I actually try, my body just lets me succeed.  

Lead, the last type of indoor climbing, is a form of climbing most commonly used by more advanced climbers, although I do a bit myself. Lead is when there is no fixed rope and a climber brings their own. It is by far the most dangerous and difficult. In lead you clip your rope into wall-mounted quick-draws. A quick draw is a carabiner with some webbing or firm plastic attached. When lead climbing, a climber must be careful to clip the right way. A result of clipping incorrectly, also known as back clipping, is that when falling, the carabiner will automatically unclip itself. I recommend trying this at home to practice, but do not ever back clip in a gym high up.

I have been to provincials twice, in bouldering and in top rope, and both times I got eighth place.

In bouldering, there are no semis finals (semis). Basically, there are 40 boulders scattered around the gym and everyone has three tries on each. If a climber flashes a climb (they finish it in one try), they get more points. If they get it on their second try, they get fewer points and three and over, they get even fewer points.

In the top rope competition, eight people go through to the semis and five go to the finals depending on the number of people in the category. There were 12 people in my category. We had two climbs and I topped one and almost topped the other. I was a bit annoyed because I made semis in sixth place but ended in eighth. Although I got eighth, I am still going to the nationals in Canmore for top rope.


For beginners, indoor climbing is a lot easier to start with before moving onto outdoor climbing, since outdoor climbing is more creative with less limits and pre-planned moves, which is why it’s my favorite type. Once you can do harder things in the gym you should definitely move outside. But I’ll talk more about this in my next article.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it.



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