Sports & Gaming

Don’t Be a Gumby

Alex Honnold & Tommy Caldwell

Lesson time 11:13 min

Every community has its own unique set of rules. In this lesson, Alex and Tommy cover etiquette and details on the different types of rock climbing.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Don't Be a Gumby • Types of Climbing • Gear • Climbing Isn’t Golf •


[MUSIC PLAYING] - MasterClass, don't be a gumby. A gumby is the semi-derogatory term for a beginner climber. Everybody is a gumby at some point, and actually, use it as self-disparagingly all the time, as well. Like, oh, it's such a gumby maneuver. It's a joyous Term. You know, you can kind of identify a gumby by having lots of things dangling off their harness, lots of extraneous things that they don't actually need. Like, you don't also need your water bottle hanging off your harness if you're bouldering. For that matter, you don't need your harness on if you're bouldering. Or like, if you're wearing your climbing shoes in the parking lot, you're doing it wrong, your gumbying. You should only have the equipment that you need in the key moments. [MUSIC PLAYING] - Historically, climbing was about getting to the top of mountains. But as it's evolved, it's sort of, like, separated into these subsets. [MUSIC PLAYING] And rock climbing is a major subset that is focused on climbing up, down, or across rock formations. - But rock climbing is a very broad sport, with many different styles of climbing. And we're going to explain each style. Alpinism is the act of climbing mountains. I mean, it comes from the Alps, in Europe. But it basically just means climbing big mountains. And that typically means peaks that are covered in snow. And so it involves a glacial travel, and crossing crevasses, and ice, and things like that. But we're going to teach you how to climb rock faces, so basically, any vertical rock. - Aid climbing is climbing that requires aid, or equipment, to pull you up the wall. Free climbing, on the other hand, is climbing that does not involve the use of aid, This type may require equipment, but that's just to catch you when you fall. - Rope climbing is just that, climbing while secured by a rope. - Top rope climbing is any time the rope is already going up over the top of a climb, through the anchor. - Lead climbing is when you climb with your rope below you on the ground, and you clip that rope into protection as you climb. Leap climbing is what most people think of as rock climbing. Sport climbing is when the climber clips the rope into bolts drilled into the wall along a predetermined route. Sport climbing is basically like gym climbing outdoors. - Trad, or traditional, climbing is different from sport because there are no bolts on the wall. So you have to place your own protection as you go, and then clip the rope into the protection as you climb. - Big wall climbing is just as it sounds, climbing on very big walls, sometimes multiday walls with many, many pitches of climbing. It's very gear-intense, and can be quite adventurous. And it's the type of climbing that we're most known for. - Unroped climbing is climbing without a rope. Bouldering is climbing down on boulders, where you generally don't get high enough to injure yourself if you f...

About the Instructor

With more than 60 combined years of elite rock climbing experience, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell have scaled some of the largest—and most extreme—walls in the world. Now, the stars of Free Solo and The Dawn Wall are teaming up to share their tried-and-true techniques for tackling any wall. From the fundamentals of footwork and body and hand positioning to mental exercises and advanced holds and movements, you’ll learn how to take on new challenges and push yourself further on and off the wall.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Alex Honnold & Tommy Caldwell

Stars of “Free Solo” and “The Dawn Wall” Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell teach lessons from more than 60 years of combined rock climbing experience.

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