Rock Climbing Guide
Rock climbing encompasses聽all the technical elements of mountaineering,聽but takes them away from the alpine surroundings, turning them into a sport in its own right.
The objective of this sport聽is to climb rock walls using nothing but your hands and feet. Even though it is聽a discipline without established rules, you can distinguish several types of climbing.
- Traditional climbing takes place in an聽alpine environment, in routes which have not been previously equipped with nuts, hexes or other anchoring devices.
- Artificial climbing聽includes all kinds of equipment like spring-loaded camming devices (SLCD) and pitons to help you climb.
- Free climbing is that in which you only use your hands and feet to ascend.
- Sport Climbing takes place in routes that have been previously equipped with anchoring devices fixed in the rocks.
Climbing can take place not only in rocks, but also in artificial walls. These are usually built of wood or concrete, with footholds bolted on them. The height and shape of the wall depends on its use (training or competition).
One of the hypotheses that explains the origins of climbing points at alpinism. The first references to climbing as a discipline in itself date back to Europe in 1911. By that time, the distinction between free and artificial climbing was already made. The difference was that the former was practiced with no equipment whatsoever, not even for safety purposes.
Between the 1930鈥檚 and 1950鈥檚, artificial climbing had a vast development. In turn, free climbing started evolving from the 1950鈥檚 with the use of pressure nails called pitons. With the appearance of the climbing harness in the 60鈥檚, the development of safety equipment took a huge leap. In the 70鈥檚, the concept of free climbing caught on, and people started talking about it in different areas of the world: the idea was to use no pitons or devices that would damage the rock, but to ascend only by the climber鈥檚 own means.
Nevertheless, this new trend increased the difficulties considerably, so, by the end of the 70鈥檚 the 'spit' was introduced. The spit consists of a pressure nail with a metal cored expander that is inserted in a hole drilled in the rock, and then hooked to the carabiner on its other end. For some, the arrival of the 'spit' is the starting point of current sport climbing.
Climbing in Chile
The practice of sport climbing in Chile has been around for several years now. In 1986, a group of local climbers started discovering and implementing the places where climbing currently takes place. From then on, a sustained development has occurred, increasing not only the amount of climbers but also the places in which climbing is practiced.
In the Mountain
With over 4000 km. (2500mi) of mountain range, Chile has countless places with undeveloped potential for traditional climbing. Amongst the best known, we recommend the following:
聽Atacama and Altiplano Area
- Socaire Creek (near San Pedro de Atacama)
- La Pampilla (Coquimbo)
- Caj贸n del Maipo
- Piedra Rommel
- Las Palestras
- San Gabriel Hill
- Placa Roja, Gris.
- Las Chilcas
- Punta de Tralca
- La Campana Hill
Southern Area: Araucan铆a and Los Lagos
- Road to Termas de Chill谩n
- Torre Hill
- Torres del Paine
In Artificial Walls
There are several places in Santiago where you can take lessons and practice artificial wall climbing:
- El Muro Gym
- Francisco Miranda School
- Universidad Metropolicana de la Educaci贸n
- Federaci贸n de Andinismo de Chile
You can find more聽suggestions about interesting places to visit in our Destinations guide.
You must take into account that, despite all safety systems, climbing is a high risk activity, and the danger of being injured, or even dead, is always present. Because of this, the first step you must take is to learn the basics of the discipline with someone who is experienced in the field, whether it is a friend or a qualified instructor. In Chile, the Federaci贸n de Andinismo de Chile offers various climbing courses.
Also, it is an activity that requires composure and a good physical condition. Climbing a rock wall takes a lot of concentration to overcome the obstacles and difficulties that may arise. Any distraction may lead to a risk of unknown consequences. A good physical condition can be attained by accumulating meters and meters of practice, or complementing them with other types of physical activities. If you do this, the ascension will be much easier.
Climbing practice also entails accepting the risks and dangers that are inherent to it. Proper instruction, right judgment, and the adequate equipment diminish the risks, but they don鈥檛 eliminate them. Getting hurt or losing your life is an ever present posibility. Remember, being safe is your own responsibility.
Since rock climbing is an outdoor activity, that takes place in direct contact with nature, it is important聽to have an ecological behavior.
- Do not litter. If you have garbage, take it with you. If you find garbage and can dispose of it properly, it will be greatly appreciated.
- Make fire only in designated areas.
- Do not take flora or fauna specimens with you.
- If possible, walk only on signposted paths.
- Do not scratch or paint rocks. No one needs to know you were there.
- If you need to go to the toilet, dig a 25-cm. (10 in) hole, and then fill it up. This should be done at least 30 mts. away from any water source (rivers, lakes, creeks).
- Avoid leaving traces of your visit. This will allow other people to enjoy nature in a virgin state
鈥⒙燪uickdraws or extenders
鈥⒙燘elay Devices (Gri-Gri or ATC)
The proper equipment is fundamental in all sports in which our life is at stake. Rock climbing requires specialized equipment and specialized instructions for its use. Never use second hand or homemade equipment. The climber鈥檚 life depends on it!
When buying or hiring equipment, seek help from someone experienced, so that you choose the implements that best suit your needs. Before buying you can hire聽 equipment until you are sure that you like this sport and you want to continue practicing it.