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What is Rock Climbing?

Rock climbing is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports and outdoor activities. All over the world, new climbers are experiencing the rush and serenity of climbing both indoors and out. Rock climbing is the sport of climbing up or down vertical rock faces, usually with the aid of equipment. 

Is Rock Climbing Safe?

Rock climbing is a safe activity when done correctly and with proper equipment. At Gearhouse, safety is our top priority. We use high-quality gear that is inspected thoroughly after each use. And with many fellow climbers in the community, you will be able to meet new climbing partners. 

You May Enjoy Rock Climbing if…

You’re an avid hiker who enjoys scrambling, vertical ascents, and a physical challenge.

Types of Rock Climbing


Bouldering is the most bare-bones version of climbing. In bouldering, climbers don’t use ropes or harnesses. Instead, they ascend routes (called problems) over padded mats (called bouldering pads) with just their climbing shoes and a chalk bag. Bouldering typically involves a series of challenging moves that require a combination of strength, technique, and problem-solving skills. Boulder problems usually only take climbers to heights they can safely fall from, usually from 7 to 15 feet.

           Top Rope Climbing

Top rope climbing is a widely popular form of climbing for both outdoor and indoor climbs. It’s also great for new climbers. In top rope climbing, the climber is belayed from a fixed anchor at the top of the wall. Top rope climbing requires a rope, helmets, a belay device, and harnesses for the belayer and climber. Belayers must know how to set an anchor, tie into a harness, and use a belay device. The beginning top-rope climber does not need to know as many technical skills if their belayer is experienced, which is why top rope climbing is great for new climbers.

           Sport Climbing

For many climbers, sport climbing is the next progression after top rope climbing. Unlike top-rope climbing, which uses a fixed anchor at the top of the wall, sport climbing involves climbing from the ground and setting fixed protection as the climber ascends. The sport climber is tied into the rope through their harness and uses quickdraws (two carabiners connected by sturdy nylon runners) to clip into fixed bolts in the wall as they climb. Sport climbers are belayed like top rope climbers but are given more slack as they climb. Sport climbing belayers need to have experience and use extreme caution, as sport climbers can fall from greater distances than top rope climbers.

           Trad climbing

Trad climbing is an advanced form of rock climbing where a climber places protection on or into the wall as they climb. Unlike in sport climbing, where the climber places protection using fixed bolts in the wall, trad climbing protection uses the rock’s natural features to place protection. The most essential part of trad climbing is understanding how to place the gear so that it holds in the case of a fall.

           Multi-Pitch Climbing

In multi-pitch climbing, two climbers ascend a wall with several pitches and belay each other from anchored positions, ledges, and even from above, as they ascend. Multi-pitch climbing is a highly skilled version of rock climbing used to tackle especially large features.

Rock Climbing Season in Washington

Washington, and the Pacific Northwest more broadly, is a mecca for rock climbers with some of the best rock climbing in the country. The climbing season in Washington typically runs from late spring through early fall, when the weather is mild and dry. During this time, you can expect clear skies and moderate temperatures, making for the perfect climbing conditions.


How to Start Rock Climbing in Washington

Getting into rock climbing can be intimidating, but Gearhouse is here to help. Our Intro to Rock Climbing program is designed for beginners who want to learn the basics of climbing in a safe and supportive environment. We offer equipment rentals, group outings, events at local climbing gyms, and more. Meet climbing buddies, get the gear you need, and adventure with Gearhouse. Gearhouse climbing trips are run by professional climbing guides also trained in wilderness first aid. 

Rock Climbing Gear

In Rock climbing, having the right gear is paramount to your safety. If you’re heading out for a climb, research what gear you need. Gearhouse’s gear library includes top-of-the-line climbing shoes, bouldering pads, and helmets, so you can focus on enjoying your climb. Our experienced staff can help you select the right gear for your next climbing adventure.

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