Short for traditional climbing, trad climbing requires you to bring your own removable protection. The lead climber places pieces of removable protection into features, usually cracks, that exist in the rock face. For some of the reasons we’ve already described, most people believe that sport climbing is objectively safer than trad climbing. The number of accidents caused by pre-installed bolts failing is incredibly small, compared to the frequency of trad protection pulling out during a lead fall. However, most leader falls on traditional protection don’t end in injury. It’s up to the trad leader to decide whether a climb offers adequate gear placements and acceptable runouts and whether the risks are manageable.

journal of sport sciences and fitness

  • Whether for trad or sport, the improved safety of technical climbing gear through the years has inspired more people to enjoy rock climbing.
  • Warning – You’ll often find the lower graded climbs in different areas are totally different in difficulty to other areas.
  • Nuts typically have at least one flared side, sometimes two, and can also be curved.
  • For climbs that take mostly gear (even if you clip the odd bolt/pin) you will get the obvious “gear to X inches, extra Y sized pieces”.
  • Slim, lightweight design to allow freedom of movement on the rock.

Not only that, but thanks to the new technology they were also able to climb both safer and quicker than ever before. Expansion bolts are drilled into the rock, and a trusty quickdraw is there to clip it. Sport climbing is simple, and it doesn’t take a lot of mental effort to master the basics. These sport routes require incredible finger strength, and gymnastic ability. Nowadays, world class sport crags in places like Spain and Thailand attract sport climbers from all over.

Ultimate Gear Lists

When the leader takes a fall, he falls only down to the last clipped bolt. With trad climbing, if you place your gear badly, or the rock is crumblier than you think, it won’t be strong enough to support your weight if you fall. I believe a good comparison are the climbing gyms that do not use the Yosemite Decimal System, but rather number rate the difficulty of their climbs.

Sport Climbing Vs Trad Climbing

In order to create an anchor, the climber will need at least two additional quickdraws than are required to climb the route. Some climbers use regular quickdraws and others opt for locking carabiners for an additional level of safety. Of course, every climber will need their rope, harness, chalk bag and climbing shoes. The number of quickdraws can be different on every route, so it is important to know how many are required before heading to the crag. Sport and trad climbing may vary greatly in their gear and their ethos, but both require a great passion for the vertical world and appreciating technical climbs.

All forms of climbing carry some risk and danger with them, but comparing trad vs sport climbing your risk of injury is higher with the traditional style. The other significant risk for trad climbing is if the protection becomes loose or fails, then the rope will be “let go of” and the climber can free fall. To explain it in another way, sport climbing is the style you’ll find at your local climbing gym.

Sport Climbing Protection

Many of the climbs there have very few opportunities for gear–some have none. Sometimes the first bolt is well over 20 feet off the deck (I still remember my first time on Rainy Day Women–that first bolt seemed about two miles away). The runouts on the upper pitches can easily exceed 40 feet–or more. With all the budding trad climbers out there, I wanted to set up some guidelines for how to start trad climbing.

Sport Climbing Harnesses

To sports climb, a rope is tied to a climber’s climbing harness with the loose end handled by a belayer. As the climb progresses, the climber will eventually come across bolts where he or she could use a Quickdraw to clip one side to the bolt and the rope to the hanging end of the Quickdraw. Normally, there is a distance of eight feet between each bolt in Sport Climbing route. In trad climbing, a leader ascends a section of rock placing his or her own ‘protective devices’ while climbing. Prior to about 1970 these devices were often limited to pitons.