Indoor Climbing, let’s have fun safely!

With the arrival of the cold season, indoor climbing inevitably sees the return of many regular climbers who, due to winter weather, are unable to enjoy real rock climbing. In addition to this group, there is an increasing number of individuals nowadays frequenting indoor climbing gyms, as it is truly a sport suitable for all ages, even recommended for the youngest climbers.

From the youngest to the not-so-young, anyone can have fun and engage in sport climbing.

It is a discipline suitable for everyone, and like all sports activities, it brings benefits, both at a motor and mental level: from a motor perspective, it improves coordination, increases strength and tones muscles, and enhances flexibility, and joint mobility.

Without a doubt, we can assert that climbing in the gym is equivalent to a normal fitness activity, with the added value of the playful element, as climbing is truly enjoyable!

As confirmation of the ever-growing number of enthusiasts, it’s noteworthy that the International Olympic Committee (C.I.O.) has officially included Sport Climbing in the lineup for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Beyond this, climbing includes a significant psychological component, and practicing it leads to improved concentration, problem-solving skills, and better self-esteem.

But every medal has its flip side. While indoor climbing is a magnificent sport accessible to all, it is equally true that there are inherent risks in this activity. Sport climbing is a safe sport, but to ensure safety, it is essential to follow some simple safety rules.

Unfortunately, with the increasing number of participants, climbing gyms are witnessing a rise in accidents, often attributed to human error. Let’s explore how to conduct oneself correctly to make the most of the time spent gripping holds, navigating walls, and tackling overhangs.

Indoor climbing and safety

Climbing involves risks! It’s crucial to be aware of this, as improper mastery of safety techniques can lead to a fall.

Especially as a beginner, it’s important not to trust just anyone offering their help, even with good intentions. Instead, rely on individuals who are undoubtedly experienced and qualified.

Mountain guides and well-trained instructors organize climbing courses that provide you with all the necessary knowledge to climb safely.

I, myself, offer climbing courses and lessons. Cortina has a magnificent climbing facility that is perfectly suited for this purpose.

If you have already been trained, name the mistakes! Point out to other climbers their errors, and contribute to spreading the right knowledge to reduce the number of incidents.

Primary causes of accidents in sport climbing

  1. Incorrect use of belay devices by the belayer.
  2. Excessive slack in the rope left by the belayer to their partner.
  3. Overly static belaying by the belayer.
  4. The belayer is significantly lighter than the climber.
  5. Top-rope descent is longer than the available rope.
  6. The knot is tied incorrectly.


And now, some concepts and rules to follow. The illustrations below are taken from the brochure developed by the Swiss Alpine Club, the German Alpine Club, the Austrian Alpine Club, and the South Tyrol Alpine Club. The illustrations are by Georg Sojer.

Arrampicata e sicurezza.

Partner check, which means mutual inspection of the knot and the correct use of the device used for belaying and the carabiner. Harness closures. Knots and tie-in points. Safety knot at the end of the rope.

Arrampicata e sicurezza.

When leading, attach directly to the rope instead of using a carabiner.

In top rope climbing, it is possible to use two opposed carabiners.

Arrampicata indoor.

Don’t expect too much from children. Remember that children have significantly less weight than you and less strength in their hands. Additionally, their ability to concentrate is limited over time.

Arrampicata indoor. e sicurezza.

Safe use of the belaying device. If you are using a tool that you are not familiar with, double your attention. One hand should always hold the brake rope. Correct position of the brake hand. Pay attention to the weight difference.

Pericoli in arrampicata in palestra.

Full attention in belaying.
It is crucial to pay full attention when belaying your partner.
Observe the partner without getting distracted by chatting with those around you. Choose the correct position. No slack in the rope.

Pericoli arrampicata indoor.

Clip the rope in all quickdraws.
Falls are always possible, no matter how skilled you are; there is always the possibility of a hold breaking or spinning.
Especially, the rope should pass through the first quickdraws to prevent ground falls.

Arrampicata indoor.

Especially in the first six meters, do not clip from a stretched-out position. In fact, in the event of a fall before inserting the rope into the quickdraw, you risk falling to the ground. Clip from a stable position, preferably at hip height.

Arrampicata in palestra.

Pay attention to those climbing near you and take into account the falling zone on the ground and on the wall to avoid being struck by the climber in the event of a fall. When lowering your partner, be mindful of those beneath them. Observe the danger of pendulum swings.

Sicurezza e arrampicata.

Never use a single anchor point at the end of the pitch. Use at least two carabiners. This is done primarily for safety reasons, but also because the continuous rubbing of the rope on a single carabiner wears it out more quickly.

Scalare in palestra.

Beware of pendulums.
In the event of a pendulum swing, there is a risk of collision for both yourself and other climbers.
In steep overhangs, climb in top-rope only with extended quickdraws.

Arrampicata in palestra.

This is a very common mistake, remember to never let two ropes be in the same rappel carabiner. There is a risk of rope breakage due to friction caused by one rope rubbing against the other.

Arrampicata in palestra.

Be careful when lowering your partner. Always pay due attention during the lowering phase. Communicate when at the anchor. Lower your partner slowly and steadily. Ensure that the landing area is clear.


Glosary

Indoor Climbing
Indoor climbing is a type of climbing that takes place in enclosed spaces on artificial structures attempting to replicate the sensations of climbing on real rock but in a more controlled environment. Both those who train during the week after work or on bad weather days and those who simply want to engage in a sport to stay fit practice indoor climbing. Indoor climbing facilities also serve as venues for climbing competitions.

Sport Climbing
It is a complex discipline characterized by both a motor physical aspect and a significant psychological and mental component.
The term climbing encompasses a set of sports disciplines—descendants of mountaineering—that emerged from the 1970s. While classical mountaineering aims to ascend a mountain adventurously (via established or new routes), sport climbing aims for pure enjoyment or sports competition, even away from mountainous environments, on routes where protections (bolts, pitons) are already in place, emphasizing gymnastic skills and climbing technique.

Belayer
The belayer refers to both the person securing the climbing partner and the device (brakes: belay device, GriGri, Reverso, Cinch, etc.) used for securing.

Belaying
The methodology that allows stopping a climber’s potential fall and prevents them from hitting the ground.

Top Rope
The top rope technique, also called top-rope or top-rope climbing, is a belaying method used in single-pitch climbing. In top-roping, the rope runs from the belayer at the base of the route to the anchor at the top, then back down to the climber being belayed. Assuming the route is vertical, the anchor is secure, and the belayer pays attention, top roping ensures that the climber falls only a short distance, allowing them to safely attempt even the most challenging routes (more info on Wikipedia).


Video

I am providing below some links to videos that illustrate how to best use the most common fall protection devices for climbing.

GRIGRI – Petzl
CINCH – Trango
VERGO – Trango
EDDY – Edelrid
SMART – Mammut
ClLICK UP – Climbing Technology