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Busting climbing myths.

Safe and merry Christmas to everyone!

Myth #1: Climbing isn’t much of a cardio work-out. 

First, climbing is a form of strength training and is not as cardio oriented as running or fast cycling. Still, if you want to work on it, it could be a workout worth looking into. On average, an hour of non-stop rock climbing burns about 500 to 900 calories. It’s important to note that this type of cardio burn is the result of bouldering workouts. Rope climbing or circuits focus on endurance and strength rather than cardio but still after certain dynamic routes I can feel my cardio definitely not being neglected. Especially when they involve a few dynos which aren’t even cruxes. Another option, why not trying recently gaining in popularity speed climbing, which is one of the Olympic disciplines.

Myth #2: Rock climbing isn’t made for people that are scared of heights. 

People are all different and motivation, interest and consistency in training can help to slowly get used to heights and eventually overcome the fear. Nothing should be unpleasantly forced though and I  f you can’t handle walking across a bridge or climbing a ladder, then maybe stick to exercises that are low to the ground. However, with supporting climbing buddies, equipment in place and visiting spectacular places even people who are terrified of heights can surprise themselves with an enjoyable day of climbing. Take your climbing journey one rock at a time, and you might be shocked how far you’ll go. 

Myth #3: Dropped gear should be retired. 

If it’s damaged to the point of not working, you will likely see the damage in the form of deformed wires, mangled cam lobes, bent metal, etc. In the words of Chris Harmston, former quality assurance manager at Black Diamond, “I have test-broken hundreds of used, abused, and dropped ‘biners (even some that fell 3000 feet from the top of the Salathe Wall on El Capitan. Never have I noticed any problem with these unless there is obvious visual damage to the ‘biner. Climbing protection is meant to be fallen on and can certainly withstand being dropped. I’d be far more confident in buying or using a used cam which HAS been fallen on than I would in trusting a piece of gear without it experiencing such real-world testing.

Myth #4: You can’t rappel on two ropes of different sizes.

Use a clean, well-dressed EDK (European Death Knot) with knot tails of at least 12 inches. There should be very little difference in the rate of ropes passing through your rappel device. For 100 percent assurance that the thinner rope won’t slip through faster than the thicker rope, simply clove hitch the thicker rope to the anchor, have the first climber rappel on just one strand, and then have the lower climber loosely hold (or tie off) both strands at the lower anchor to ensure no slippage.

Myth #5: It is not safe to rappel on a wet rope (dry-treated or not).

A wet rope is not dangerously weakened for rappelling compared with a dry rope. Static strength is most important when rappelling, and ropes can have up to a 30 percent strength loss there. However, when wet, it is possible to see as much as a 70 percent reduction in dynamic performance, which is important when taking a lead fall.

Myth #6: It is ok to fall on a wet rope.

Rope companies do not recommend falling on a wet rope, which may have its dynamic performance reduced by up to 70 percent when wet. Modern dry-treated ropes are a bit better, with dynamic performance reductions of about 40 percent, depending on the type of dry treatment. Any fall on a wet rope causes more damage, so its future performance (even when dried) is compromised.

Myth #7: If you are a female all you need is good technique

Most guys are pretty strong when they start climbing. They tend to apply brute force to their movements rather than trying to find the most efficient way to do it. Only after many months of climbing does good technique start to show. However, many women come to climbing with a relatively weak upper body, which could be a huge benefit down the road. A weaker climber is forced to use good body position and footwork to make it up routes. Since strength is not a default fall-back, good climbing form is accelerated. Still, technique alone is not enough to make a strong climber. Lucky for women, strength is much simpler to develop than good technique. With a regular bouldering routine of 2-3 sessions per week plus some strength training in the weight room, you can go from weak to strong in a year or less.

Myth #8: Backpacking and camping skills are not relevant to mountaineering

So you’re thinking that just because you’re not a rock climber you don’t have any applicable skills for getting into mountaineering, right? This is not true. Extensive backpacking, navigational, and camping skills are absolutely useful on the mountainside- oftentimes more so than technical sport climbing prowess. A backpacking and hiking background is beneficial to mountaineering because it means you’re physically adapted to carrying heavy loads over long distances.

If you’re used to living out of your tent for days on end and familiar with the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and sleeping outdoors, then you’re definitely ahead of the game. While scrambling and technical climbing skills are important to develop as well, backpacking is one of the best forms of training for mountaineering.

Merry Christmas everyone!


 Lütkemeyer, M., (2019) How many Calories does Rock Climbing Burn? Numbers & Tips. Accessed: December, 2019.

Rock and Ice. (2019) Is dropped gear still safe?

Accessed: December, 2019.

Sturmberg, B., (2012) Do you need to retires carabiners that have been dropped?

Accessed: December, 2019.

Alpine Savvy, (2018) Rappelling on two ropes of two different diameters.

Accessed: December, 2019.

Hikes with Tykes (2019) Can you abseil, rappel or climb in the rain?

Accessed: December, 2019.

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