Most climbers partake in the various forms of climbing which have developed but most specialise in one or other form.
Traditional or 'trad' climbing is the oldest form of climbing practised and involves placing one's own gear including cams, nuts and slings for protection. Routes tend to follow natural lines or cracks where gear can be placed. South Africa offers great scope from climbing in what is termed the 'trad' way. There are many areas which are deemed to be 'trad' areas and where bolting is either not allowed, or the climbers have reached tactic agreement that areas should not be bolted. There are also a number of crags where 'trad' routes sit along side 'sport' routes. The general agreement between climbers is that if a route was opened on 'trad' it remains that way, and only by the implicit consent of the opening party may routes be retro-bolted.
Sport climbing has gained huge popularity over the past 10-15 years and there are probably more people now who climb bolted routes than traditional routes. For sport climbing one only needs a harness, rope, quickdraws and shoes. Sport climbing involves climbing routes which have pre-equipped with fixed protection. This is generally in the form of bolts which have been placed into the rock. The MCSA actively promotes the safe bolting practices and a number of sections have drawn up bolting policies. The MCSA also sponsors sport climbers in the bolting of routes. Various bolting guidelines have been set-up:- Guidelines for Western Cape
Competition Climbing is a natural offshoot of artificial wall climbing which people built to train on during the week and when they couldn't get out to the crags. In the mid-90ies the Sport Competition Climbing and Development Trust was formed to oversee the activities of competition climbing and development in South Africa. A number of successful national competitions were held but the national competition circuir has remained dormant in the past couple of years. To check out the international competition curcuit or ICC.
Bouldering has fairly recently become more popular although has been practised from the earliest of climbing days. When people climb new routes they tend to write down where and what grade the route it. The routes get published, either in hard copy format or in electronic format on the internet. Bouldering, possibly one of the most natural forms of climbing involves climbing generally short, hard sections of rock fairly close to the ground, without the use of rope. Often a crash-mat is used to soften the landing. 'Spotters', or other climbers often stand behind the climber to break their fall or make sure they land on their feet. There is a site devoted just to bouldering in South Africa. Check out: Bouldering SA
Routes: For over a hundred years the MCSA has recorded the ascents of climbing routes in Southern Africa. A number of route books have been published by each section, but more common now is for private companies or individuals to produce hard copy route books. There are a number of route guides available electronically over the internet. The best places for these are:-
Table Mountain app