Rock climbing is among the freest and purest forms of athleticism that our primate selves can pursue.
Sport climbing, or climbing for fun, is typically short single-pitch climbs in an area of concentrated surrounding routes. It pertains to an initial climber following that route, or predetermined path of climbing that is protected by pre-established fixed anchors along way to the top.
In free climbing, climbers use nothing but his/her strength and ability to climb features on the rock, above any means of protection, in the event of a fall. If the climber does fall, he/she is protected by a simple system.
1) The life line
A rope which is tied to the lead climber.
2) On belay
A belayer on the ground feeds the rope out to the climber through a belay device designed to secure the rope in the event of a fall.
These are a series of individual anchors the lead climber clips the rope to along his/her ascent. These bolts shorten the length of the fall should one occur.
4) Quick on the draw
Climbers use quickdraws: two carabiners linked together by an astonishingly strong piece of thick nylon, often called a bone, to connect the rope to each anchor hanger, typically called bolts because of their nature: a concrete anchor with a hanger that accepts the quickdraw, and is bolted to the rock. The lead climber must hang one carabiner of the quickdraw through the hanger, and clip the rope through the other carabiner, all while maintaining grace under pressure.
As the climber continues, the rope passes through the carabiners below. If he/she falls, the belayer arrests the rope with the belay device, and the climber only falls a minimal distance.
Simple physics, and the strength and integrity of the materials used for this endeavor, all add up to a safe and sweet climb.