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Rock climbers on Valkyrie at The Roaches in Staffordshire, England.
A competitor in a rope climbing event, at Lyon's Part-Dieu shopping centre.
An ice climber using ice axes and crampons.

Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet (or indeed any other part of the body) to ascend a steep object. It is done both for recreation (to reach an inaccessible place, or for its own enjoyment) and professionally, as part of activities such as maintenance of a structure, or military operations.

Climbing activities include:

  • Bouldering: Ascending boulders or small outcrops, often with climbing shoes and a chalk bag or bucket. Usually, instead of using a safety rope from above, injury is avoided using a crash pad and a human spotter (to direct a falling climber on to the pad).
  • Buildering: Climbing urban structures - usually without equipment - avoiding normal means of ascent, like stairs, escalators, and elevators. Aspects of buildering can be seen in the art of movement known as Parkour.
  • Canyoning: Climbing along canyons for sport or recreation.
  • Chalk climbing: cliffs of chalk may (with difficulty) be climbed using some of the same techniques as ice climbing .
  • Competition Climbing: A formal, competitive sport of recent origins, normally practiced on artificial walls that resemble natural rock formations. The International Federation of Sport Climbing ( IFSC) is the official organization governing competition climbing worldwide and is recognized by the IOC and GAISF and is a member of the International World Games Association ( IWGA). Competition Climbing has three major disciplines: Lead, Bouldering and Speed.
  • Ice climbing: Ascending ice or hard snow formations using special equipment designed for the purpose, usually ice axes and crampons. Techniques of protecting the climber are similar to those of rock climbing, although the protective devices themselves are different (ice screws, snow wedges).
  • Lead climbing: An important form of recreational climbing in which the climber starts at the base of a route, then climbs upwards pulling a rope behind him for protection (i.e. without the benefit of a rope from above). From time to time the rope is passed through a karabiner attached to the rock via some kind of anchor (known as a running belay, or runner), thus affording the climber some degree of protection should he/she fall. The degree of safety depends crucially on the quality of the anchors available, and the distance between them. A fallling climber will typically fall over twice the distance between him/her and the last runner.
  • Mountain climbing (Mountaineering): Ascending mountains for sport or recreation. It often involves rock and/or ice climbing.
  • Net climbing: Climbing net structures. The climbing structures consist of multiple interconnected steel reinforced ropes attached to the ground and steel poles. Climbing nets are usually installed on playgrounds to assist children in developing their balancing and climbing skills.
  • Pole climbing (gymnastic): Climbing poles and masts without equipment.
  • Lumberjack tree-trimming and competitive tree-trunk or pole climbing for speed using spikes and belts.
  • Rock climbing: Ascending rock formations, often using climbing shoes and a chalk bag. Equipment such as ropes, bolts, nuts, hexes and camming devices are normally employed, either as a safeguard or for artificial aid.
  • Rope access: Industrial climbing, usually abseiling, as an alternative to scaffolding for short works on exposed structures.
  • Rope climbing: Climbing a short, thick rope for speed. Not to be confused with roped climbing, as in rock or ice climbing.
  • Scrambling which includes easy rock climbing, and is considered part of hillwalking.
  • Sport climbing is a form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors fixed to the rock, and possibly bolts, for protection, (in contrast with traditional climbing, where the rock is typically devoid of fixed anchors and bolts, and where climbers must place removable protection as they climb).
  • Tree climbing: Ascending trees without the intention of harming them, using ropes and other equipment. This is a less competitive activity than rock climbing.

Rock, ice and tree climbing all usually use ropes for safety or aid. Pole climbing and rope climbing were among the first exercises to be included in the origins of modern gymnastics in the late 18th century and early 19th century.

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