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Updated: Jul 13, 2022

When people think of "Rock Climbing", an image of someone climbing a very high wall using rope comes to mind almost immediately. That said, rock climbing is actually an umbrella term covering the many disciplines of climbing. For example, the Tokyo Olympics featured three disciplines of climbing: Lead Climbing, Speed Climbing and Bouldering. So how does each one of them differ?

Lead Climbing

In this type of climbing, the objective is to climb the wall as high as you can. Climbers use safety ropes and attach the rope to quickdraws (equipment bolted to the wall that allows the rope to run freely while lead climbing).

Top Rope climbing is pretty similar to lead climbing except for how the rope is secured. For Top Rope climbing, the rope is anchored at the top of the wall instead of using quickdraws.

Speed Climbing

With Speed climbing, climbers will climb a standard route on a 15-metre wall. The goal is to reach the top as fast as possible. The current Olympic records for Speed climbing are 5.45 seconds for Men and 6.84 seconds for Women.


Lastly, there is Bouldering. It is a form of climbing without the use of ropes or harnesses. Surrounding the climbing walls are landing mats that help mitigate the risk of falling. On average, bouldering walls are shorter than those used for Lead or Top Rope climbing - just around 4 metres high.

Since Bouldering does not need much equipment, it's easy for anyone, even kids, to start climbing. At Boulder Planet, we offer programmes for children between the ages of 6 and 12.

These disciplines of climbing may be different, but practising any of these will strengthen the body, develop movement skills, and foster mental agility for all ages. It is also good to learn the history of the sport as it will help you develop a greater appreciation for it!

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