5 Variations of Climbing

New Ways to Ascend

Climbing is a broad term that covers several different types of traversal. Though many people initially think of someone in a  harness making their way up a cliff or maybe even just casually walking up a mountain, climbing in fact has sprung up some interesting and lesser known styles. With varying degrees of difficulty and of course amplified risk depending on the environment involved these other forms of climbing can be great starting points for those interested in taking up the sport.


This practice requires much of the same skills as free solo climbing. With you’re your hands and feet as your climbing gear, bouldering has you work your way up not a rockface or a cliff but a boulder unsurprisingly. This means you may not be too far from the ground at all depending on what boulder you choose however the fundamentals are the same. Grab tight, secure footholds and don’t fall. Often climbing shoes are worn to help and crash mats are placed below just in case.


Sometimes called canyoneering or kloofing, this activity alone encompasses many different sets of skills needed to traverse natural canyons. Whether assisted by ropes or having to swim part of the way, canyoning can become a multidiscipline activity that requires as much problem solving as rock climbing in order to get to your goal. You will need to be prepared for raging rivers, huge drops, unstable rocks and narrow openings in this activity, which can vary from fairly pedestrian to expert level difficulty.

Pole Climbing

This one isn’t to difficult to work out, but it is tough to get the hang of. Unlike climbing rocks pole climbing requires a different degree of balance and relies on much different muscles. Not only do you need to have the strength to push your entire bodyweight upward, you also need to hold your position on the pole with an intense grip. This is one of those activities where professionals make it look like a breeze but taking to it yourself is surprisingly tough.

Mast Climbing

This is like pole climbing gone wild. In mast climbing people make their way up any vertical pole whether that be a pole, a radio tower or the spire of a building. Usually assisted by ropes because of the extreme heights, mast climbing uses pole climbing skills and rock climbing ones as not all masts are the same and some structures require horizontal movement to ascend. Mast climbing often becomes the precursor to base jumping where they will complete their climb by parachuting back down to ground level.


You may not initially think of this as climbing but this practice of moving while surpassing obstacles really just varies depending on the surroundings. Parkour is typically seen in urban environments where practitioners will leap over hip-height obstacles in a constant flow of movement, sometimes spring boarding off walls to reach new heights and using acrobatics to descend often and keep moving forward. If presented with an ascending set of rocks, someone practicing parkour would have to keep moving while finding a way over them, which essentially would mean climbing.