Angelina Clausi, Image Consultant at Trixies Uptown
One of the best ways to get rid of the winter blues is through exercise. My favorite form of this is rock climbing. Like many sports and activities, rock climbing is dangerous and rewarding. It tests the strength, endurance, and mental capacities of the climber. You can choose to climb in indoor facilities that have artificial rock formations or outdoors with natural rock formations.
Most indoor facilities cater to 4 types of climbing, which can all be done outdoors as well. Bouldering is a style of climbing that does not use ropes or protective gear besides a pad to land on, every fall is a ground fall. For this reason, these climbs tend to be short. Top rope has a fixed anchor at the top of a route or ceiling where a rope is attached to the climber and a person on the ground (belayer) who pulls in the rope slack. An auto belay is a machine fixed at the top of a route that takes the rope in as you climb, a belayer is not needed for this method. Lead climbing does not have an anchor for the rope at the top, the climber clips the rope in from the ground as they ascend the route. Since the fixed points will be under the climber it will lead to larger falls if they were to occur.
With lead climbing outdoors there two subcategories. The first is sport climbing where you ascend through fixed anchors bolted into the rock for protection. Then there is traditional (trad) climbing where the anchors are placed by the climber as they ascend.
You don't need to have your own gear, indoor facilities have gear you can rent. Climbing shoes are used to insure accurate foot placement. The harness is used to clip or tie rope into in order to keep the climber secure. All other gear is not necessary unless you plan to climb outdoors.
Climb Iowa has two locations in the metro. Their grimes location caters to 4 types of climbing and their East Village location caters to bouldering. I try to climb 3 to 4 times a week at one of the facilities and take outdoor climbing trips a few times a year.