Top-roped Climbing

Top-roping is the most common style used at indoor climbing walls. A climber attaches their harness to one end of a rope, which then passes up through an anchor at the top of the wall, and then down to a partner who belays the climber. As the climber ascends the wall, the belayer pulls in the slack rope, such that if a climber were to let go, they would be held in place on the wall. Top-roping is the ideal way to start climbing for beginners since it is psychologically easier and less physically demanding than lead climbing.


Bouldering is a style of rock climbing undertaken without a rope and normally limited to very short climbs over a crash pad so that a fall will not result in serious injury. One advantage of bouldering indoors with crash pads is that it can be practiced alone without a partner.

Bouldering is a style of climbing emphasizing power, strength, and dynamics. Its focus is on individual moves or short sequences of moves, unlike other forms of climbing, which generally demand more endurance over longer stretches where the difficulty of individual moves is not as great.

To reduce the risk of injury from a fall, climbers rarely go higher than 12 feet above the ground. One of the major appeals of bouldering is its relatively small equipment requirements, just climbing shoes and a chalk bag.

Lead Climbing

Lead climbing is a climbing technique used to ascend a route where the climber attaches themselves to a length of dynamic (slightly stretchy) climbing rope and ascends whilst periodically attaching themselves to fixed protection on the face of the route and”clipping in” to it. At WOU’s Climbing Wall the quickdraws have already been attached on the wall, and the climber only needs to “clip in” the rope.

Lead climbing differs from Top-Roping in that the climber does not have an anchor point above them whilst climbing, but clips their rope onto the wall as they ascend. This does give the potential for larger falls and presents a greater mental challenge. A climber must have passed the Campus Recreation Department’s Lead Climbing class before they are allowed to lead climbing.

Like top-roping, the lead climber must have another person acting as a belayer. However, the belayer’s job is more complex than for top-roping, since they not only hold the rope in the event of a fall but also must give out rope or taking up slack as the climber moves up and progressively clips the rope into the quickdraws.



Campus Recreation

(503) 838-9530 | e-mail: | or in person: Directions/Parking