Physics of Rock Climbing

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When thinking of rock climbing it is good to think of all aspects of climbing in terms of energy. While thinking of energy, remember basic geology and know that not all rocks are formed in the same way, in other words know what type of rock you are dealing with, it is good to think of the process of formation behind the type of rock you may be climbing. Understanding the formation process will drastically change the climbing technique used to climb that particular rock. Another aspect of energy that one should keep in mind is drastically changing your potential energy. Typically people climb along a vertical direction and move off of the surface of the earth using the rock to help them defy gravity. This can be an exhilarating experience, using ones own body to absorb the energy of the rock and change their potential energy. And last but not least not every human can undergo this change in energy without fall protection, because it is very probable that a foot may slip or a hand hold might come loose , a person will fall, and of course a rope is a spring when dealing with falling.

Volcanic rocks provide a very easy climb, with lots of big pockets and foot placement for a begging climber. Usually these rocks have a very high friction coefficient making them seem easy to "stick" to. This young lad, is pressing the rock with his hands not really using a hold, instead using more friction.

Here is an example of a rock made from harder material, with a lower friction coefficient, making the climbing a little more difficult, causing the climber to rely more on hand strength, rather than friction to move up the rock. This rock type is very popular among climbers today. This man is climbing using an open handed grip with his right hand ensuring him the most positive force on bigger holds.

And last is sandstone, which is considered the most dangerous rock type to climb, due to low friction and easy to break. As you can see the this climber has the least amount of hand holds causing this climbers techinique to change in hand holds, she is using a closed grip with her hands ensuring the most positive force her fingers can exert on the rock.

Those are not the only type of rock

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