Gym Closing At 5:00pm On Saturday December 20th For Staff Holiday Party

Top-rope Climbing

This is the most common form of climbing that you’ll see in our gym. We have 50 ropes hung from “belay bars” above sections of the wall, some going as high as 36 feet. Each rope has one or more routes on it, marked with coloured tape to show the path up the wall. At the bottom of each route is a tag that tells you which rope to tie into, the name of the route and the routesetter who created it, and a rating indicating approximately how difficult it is.

Our roped routes use the Yosemite rating system. The ratings are all of the form 5.#, where the 5 indicates a Class 5 climb where a rope is required to keep the climber safe, and the # ranges from 5 to 13 or more. So a 5.5 climb is suitable for beginners, and a 5.13 climb will test the strongest climbers. The higher ratings (starting from 5.10) are further divided into + and – ratings, so a 5.10- is harder than a 5.9 climb, but easier than a 5.10+. Ratings are approximate and subjective, and climbers love to argue about them (“There’s no way that’s a 5.9!”). It’s impossible to be exact with ratings because so many factors combine to form the difficulty of a climb for a given climber, including:

  • height
  • weight
  • ape index (the difference in inches between your arm span and your height)
  • flexibility
  • balance
  • strength (arm, finger, legs, core)
  • climbing experience
  • technique
  • knowledge of the route
  • confidence
  • how much gravity there is on a given day

At True North Climbing the rating for each roped route is shown on the route tag at the base of each climb, along with other information about the route, such as the number of the rope to use, and the initials of the routesetter who set it.

Some routes are marked as “Youth”. This means that the holds are placed close enough together for a small person to reach, and the holds themselves are chosen to be suitable for smaller hands. Large adults might find Youth routes difficult or frustrating because of the hold selection!

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