Overview of Climbing

I was first hooked onto climbing in the late 2000s. Gave it up after a few years and only restarted my climbing journeys again in 2023. Here's an overview of what climbing is from my current knowledge.

Getting started with climbing

The easiest way to try out climbing is either top-rope or bouldering.

Top-rope in general is safer ever since gyms began installing auto-belay systems which allows you to fall/get down safely as long as you don't do anything intentionally stupid while on the wall.

Bouldering minimally requires you to learn how to fall properly, it's not difficult, but the fear of falling from a height and having to perform movements to make a safe landing can make it prohibitive to some.

Both of these disciplines of climbing require you to own little to no gear. Shoes and harnesses can be rented at every gym. Chalk may not be rentable so you might wanna bring a more experienced friend along or else get your own for less than $10 USD.

In general, gym entries cost $15-30 USD in cities and $10-$20 USD in outskirt areas. Shoe and harness rentals generally cost $3-5 USD and if chalk is available for renting, it's usually close to free.

If you're in Singapore, checkout the map of climbing gyms and shops in Singapore in this knowledge garden at Singapore.

Types of climbing


Bouldering is a type of climbing that features short routes that require lots more strength and power than endurance. Since it doesn't require any skills/certifications or excessive gear, bouldering is one of the most accessible forms of climbing. All you need is shoes (rentable at most gyms) and chalk (only if your palms get sweaty) and you're good to go.

Bouldering walls in gyms are generally 3-4 meters high with huge cushy mattresses beneath them. Learning how to fall properly is the only essential skill here. In general you'll also be climbing back down more often than jumping down especially if you're past the age of 30.


This type of climbing features a high wall - generally 15 - 30 meters in gyms - where you'll attach one end of the rope to yourself to catch your fall. Most gyms these days have auto-belays which are generally safe and have never failed as long as the rope is attached to you properly. The alternative is getting a friend who's around the same weight to belay you.


Lead climbs are similar in nature to top-rope climbs featuring high walls. The difference here is the presence of many clips along the routes which you have to attach your own rope to as you climb up. Lead climbing in gyms generally require you have some kind of certification or prove your skills in person.


Trad climbing is an upgraded form of lead climbing where the clips are placed by you instead of being already available on the wall. Trad climbers are typically seen with many tools hanging on their waist which they will use to insert clips along the route as they climb upwards.

Free solo

Free solo-ing is climbing high routes without gear and is more of a death-wish than a discipline since the cost of failure is extremely high.

Climbing grades

Most gyms have their own different grading systems. I've heard it's mainly to encourage beginners - which form the bulk of customers - to not see the internationally recognised grades which can be demoralising for some. Each jump of an international grade requires easily 1-2 years of consistent practice which can be too daunting for some.

The three main grading systems that's internationally recognised are the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS), Font Scale, and V-Scale. The YDS scale is used almost exclusively for outdoor routes while the Font and V scales are more commonly used in general.

The conversion chart is as follows for the Font-Scale/V-Scale:

The conversion chart is as follows for YDS/Font Scale:

Climbing resources


Youtube Channels

Quintissential watching is this channel on technique progression by Movement for Climbers:

And here's some other channels which delve into slightly more advanced aspects of climbing:

Last updated