|Climbing / Mountaineering timberlinetrails.net
Climbing and Mountaineering are definitely a step up from hiking and
backpacking. But many people get confused when it comes to the difference
between the two.
To get a basic understanding on the above subject, we need to look at the
rating system. I will use the Yosemite Decimal System, because it is the one I
am most familiar with. It consists of five classes indicating the technical
difficulty of the hardest section:
Hiking and or Backpacking with low chance of injury
Scrambling with the use of hands in sections. Fall could produce severe
injury, but would most likely not be fatal.
Could be compared with climbing a steep staircase on the side of a tall building
with no handrail. Care must be taken with hand and foot placement. A fall may be fatal, but not always (depending on your
immediate exposure level). Many folks at the class 3 level carry a rope for extra safety.
Steep short sections where the use of a rope and some protection is highly recommended. An un-roped fall could be fatal.
This is where things get serious. Most climbers look at class five as true rock climbing. It involves predominantly vertical or near
vertical rock. Expert training is highly recommended, in order to gain the required skills. A rope would be mandatory in order to
proceed safely. Un-roped falls would positively result in severe injury or death. Class 5 climbing is also divided up into decimal
fractions from 5.0 - 5.14. A rating of 5.8 and beyond would be considered by most climbers as advanced. Ratings beyond 5.12 are
reserved for the elite climbers of the world.
So now we can get down to the differences between climbing and
mountaineering. As stated above, hiking and backpacking would be
considered class 1 activities with possibly a little class 2 thrown in here
As far as climbing is concerned, I would break that down into two
categories. The first category I would call "General Climbing," and the
second category I would call "Rock Climbing." General climbing would
involve class 3 and class 4 ratings. Rock Climbing, on the other hand
would involve class 5 climbing. There is also a class that was not
mentioned above, and that is aid climbing. That would belong to the
advanced climbing category, and it is broken down into terms such as
A1, A2, etc. Depending on the security of the anchor placement.
Rock Climbers (from what I have experienced) most often like to engage in
activities that involve a short approach to their intended climb. They
especially like being able to drive their car right up to their intended
climb. This makes it so they can spend the maximum amount of time on
the rock rather than having to spend time driving, hiking, or packing into
their location. This method also provides for a quick escape if weather
turns bad, or if someone gets injured.
Yosemite would be the classic drive and climb type of National Park.
But by far and a way, most Rock Climbers spend most of their time
working on local bouldering problems near their homes or on sport
climbing walls. Certainly a great way to hone ones skills for more
advanced climbs in the future.
Mountaineering on the other hand, can involve all the
various types of activities. Mountaineer's are what I would
call Peak Baggers. Their goal is to get to the top of a
mountain by any means necessary. Sometimes it only
involves a hike, such as White Mountain, while at other
times it may involve a variety of activities. North Palisade
in the California Sierra Nevada, would be just such a peak.
It involves hiking/backpacking, snow and ice climbing, and
rock climbing, all put together (if you use the North Fork
Mountaineering, for the most part (but not always), is the
more committed of the two sports, due to the fact that it
usually involves being located in more remote areas. The
downside to all of this is that if you or someone in your
party should get injured (while climbing on a distant peak),
getting help could become a real problem. This means that you should mountaineer with other experienced people. Because you
will be highly dependent on their skills and preparedness if something should go wrong out there.
If you check out all the links at the beginning of this page, you will see examples of all the various types of mountaineering and
climbing activities. But no matter what activity you decide to take up, rock climbing, mountaineering, or both, the most important
thing to remember is to be safe out there. Climbing and mountaineering are inherently dangerous, and care must be taken at all
times in order to avoid injuries.
So remember to be safe and enjoy,