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Indoor rock climbing can be both a fun way to stay in shape as well as a gateway to the exciting world of mountaineering. Almost anyone can learn to rock climb indoors, and with the proper supplies, it is extremely safe. Most rock climbing gyms have trained staff as well as rental equipment available for those who are just trying out the sport. As a person progresses, he or she may want to purchase custom gear instead of paying to use communal supplies. Indoor rock climbing equipment includes a climbing harness, climbing shoes, climbing ropes, belay devices, and crash pads.
Perhaps the first thing people think of when considering rock climbing equipment is the climbing rope. As with all climbing supplies, the options can appear to be endless. Rest assured that the choice is not nearly as important for indoor rock climbing as for outdoor, and most climbing gyms will not permit users to bring their own ropes, as the gym may be liable for injury due to rope failure. Climbing ropes are different from other types of rope, both for their strength and ability to stretch if a climber falls. They come in various lengths and thicknesses, and have all been tested for performance during a fall.
Climbing harnesses may be rented or borrowed from the gym, but many indoor rock climbers purchase and bring their own, as they like the feel of a particular brand or style of harness. Harnesses for indoor climbing usually fasten around the waist and the top of each leg. They allow climbers to move freely while providing safety in case of a fall. A properly fitted harness will help ensure that the climber is not seriously injured, even if he or she is turned upside-down in a fall. Most experts recommend only buying new harnesses, to make sure they are safe.
Along with harnesses, climbing shoes can be rented, but in order to have maximum comfort — and to avoid germs — people often bring their own to a climbing wall. Although it is possible to climb an indoor rock wall in sneakers, climbing shoes are made specifically for traction while rock climbing. The shoes are usually not comfortable for walking, running, or hiking, but allow users to stand on small toeholds while indoor rock climbing.
A belay device is a small piece of indoor rock climbing equipment that can be tricky to use. When the climbing rope is threaded through these metal devices in a particular manner, it can be controlled in the event of a fall. As indoor rock climbing is generally done with a partner, one person stands on the ground and slowly feeds rope through the belay device while his or her partner climbs. If the climber slips or falls, the belay device catches the rope and secures the climber.
A crash pad, also known as a bouldering mat, is a piece of equipment used by indoor rock climbers who prefer bouldering. Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is performed at very limited heights, over a crash pad. This pad is usually made of foam, with a durable covering so that it can be used outdoors as well as inside a climbing gym.
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