We recently had an opportunity to try our hands (and feet) on free-climbing on real rock and we absolutely loved it.
Free climbing is the discipline of rock climbing In which the climber may use climbing equipment such as ropes and other means of climbing protection, but only to protect against injury during falls and not to assist in progress.
The other discipline would be called technical climbing which you could maybe compare to no-limits diving with the aid of sledges and lifting devices.
I have always been wondering why there is such a large number of freedivers who are also interested in climbing.
There are a few obvious similarities in the two activities.
Both go against your natural survival instinct, one up, one down. Contrary to common misconception, adrenalin is not your friend in either diving or climbing. The ability to stay calm in stressful situations, mental strength and confidence are important.
Both sports require substantial focus, coordination and flexibility more than brute strength and or speed.
Both require a minimal amount of equipment (you can’t wear your climbing shoes much longer than your monofin before your toes fall off.)
The buzz after a successful climb or dive is quite similar.
Once you know your stuff i.e. safety you are free to engage in both activities independently without the need for a guide or operator if you choose.
The risks are highly dependent on good decision making and a responsible safety and partner which makes both sports a good trust exercise.
Both activities are in and with nature and you need to be tuned to conditions and variations.
Both sports used to be fringe. Climbing made it to mainstream already over 20 years ago and has leveled off a bit , whereas freediving is just coming out of fringe in the last ten years and still growing rapidly.
Here in Fiji climbing is even less known or practiced than freediving. There are no developed or bolted routes that I know off and just one climbing gym wall outdoors in Nausori.
That we have the intention of changing. It will take a good amount of exploring and a great effort to develop and maintain a few routes close to home (Savusavu) , but if it makes freedivers happy to go climbing on their rest days, it will be worth the effort.