Skip to main content

Types of Climbing


Bouldering is climbing horizontally and vertically underneath the 12ft high white tape line without being attached to a rope. Bouldering allows the individual to climb without a partner or the confinement of a rope so they are free to move easily in all directions. Bouldering problems (taped climbing paths) are set on a weekly basis and holds are moved around to offer variations in the climbing terrain for an individual just learning to boulder as well as seasoned veterans. In order to boulder at the WVU wall, patrons need to view our facility orientation video. Bouldering can occur any time the SRC is open.

RopeD Climbing

Rope Climbing involves at least two people. One person is the belayer and one the climber. The climber ties themselves into the rope and climbs vertically up the wall. The belayer holds the rope and catches the climber in case of a fall as well as lowers them to the ground. We offer two different types of roped climbing at the WVU wall, top rope climbing and lead climbing. For a brief overview, see the diagram to the right, which showcases the differences between top rope and lead climbing.

Top Rope Climbing

Top Rope Climbing is a type of roped climbing where the rope is secured at the top of the wall, and you climb up until you reach the top where the rope is attached. 

Lead Climbing

Lead climbing is a type of roped climbing where the rope is attached directly to the climber without the rope being secured to any protection. As the climber ascends, they attach the rope to pieces of protection, often called quickdraws. These quickdraws secure the rope in case the climber falls, though as the climber ascends, they are occasionally above the quickdraw. This can allow for a longer fall, but climbers are still protected and held by their belayer to minimize their fall potential.

Climbing Options

  • Try Climbing - Monday to Friday from 4pm - 9pm
    • While we are open for rope climbing, our staff are available to belay you. In the event that we are too busy, staff may temporarily pause their belaying so they can effectively manage the safety of all patrons.
  • Recruit a Belayer - Make a friend
    • If you are still interested in climbing during open rope hours when our staff are busy, we welcome you to reach out to any other belayer (indicated by a green tag on their harness) and make a friend!
  • Become a Belayer
    • For a novice climber who wants to gain the basic skills, we offer belay classes at the climbing wall. These classes teach people to either top rope belay or lead belay so that they can belay other individuals up the climbing wall. Upon completion of the class, individuals may take their test any time except days in which they receive significant instruction. Top rope belay classes ($10) and lead belay classes ($25) are available for registration through WVUGo.

Children Climbing at the Wall

Children can climb at the climbing wall. However, the climbing wall is not an appropriate place for a parent or guardian to drop a child and go to another part of the building ( building policy states that all children age 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult). Parents must stay and closely supervise their children while they are at the climbing wall. Children can boulder on the bottom part of the wall or the bouldering cave while a parent spots them. It is important that children do not walk underneath other people who are bouldering. If a parent is a WVU Climbing Wall belayer they can belay their children when the ropes are down.

Climbing Equipment

Participants can only use their own harness and shoes at the climbing wall. Participants must use the climbing wall’s belay devices and ropes for climbing.

Climbing harnesses, helmets, shoes and chalk bags are available to climbers free of charge. They may be picked up at the climbing wall desk when you sign in. For those people who want shoes for bouldering hours when the climbing wall desk is not staffed, you can also check out shoes at the SRC front desk.