Not being an expert in climbing, I'd like to discuss if these can be merged. They sound all the same to me (a non-expert), but perhaps there are important differences?


  • As discussed in the answers Mountaineering is indeed quite different. I'm going to go ahead and pare this question down in light of discussion.
    – djechlin
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 11:26
  • Okay I don't have suggested edit privileges (200 rep?) but I do suggest changing title to "Merge Rock Climbing and Climbing tags" and strike mountaineering. Also this question is old and this is still an active issue. Yikes.
    – djechlin
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 11:27
  • As per our discussion on the related q you raised at meta.outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/563/66 my gut feel is that we can implement the suggestions made by TheJollySin and Kevin, so I'll probably do that one evening this week. Also, I wouldn't worry so much about urgency - this is not one of the trilogy sites - here if something is a problem we fix it quickly, but this is more of a preference thing. A nice to have, but not actually urgent in any way.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 13:11

4 Answers 4


I believe we need to be more systematic. "Climbing" is a blanket term that covers a lot of areas. To be consistent, I believe we need to include only "climbing", or we need to include a thorough selection of subcategories. And here they all are:

Climbing This is a crazily general term that applies to everything from strenuous hiking to climbing up a frozen waterfall.

Climbing Sub-Categories:

Rock Climbing

This covers any-and-all types of moving up a body of rock. All such types of rock-climbing are measured by the Yosemite decimal system.

  • Bouldering is a sport of short, intense climbing problems that are almost gymnastic. These hard problems are close enough to the ground the climber won't need a rope for safety (the climber usually won't go higher than 20 feet / 7 meters).
  • Top Roping is rope climbing where permanent safety devices are mounted into the rock at the top of the climb. This is also the style of climbing seen most often at indoor gyms.
  • Sport Climbing is a sport where permanent placements of safety gear are set into the rock at multiple fixed points along the climb.
  • Trad Climbing is characterized by the fact that there are no permanent pieces of safety gear set into the rock along the climb. The climber has to provide ALL of their own safety gear by mounting temporary safety gear into the rock as they climb.
  • Aid Climbing is a sport of rock climbing where the gear itself is used to help ascend the rock. This is done to: increase climbing speed, climb past sections of rock that are beyond the climber's skill, or in some emergency situations.
  • Free Solo Climbing is the sport of rock-climbing where no rope or other safety devices are used. This is not very common as it is arguably much less safe.

Ice Climbing This sport almost always involves rope. It is usually "Trad Climbing" style, though can have aspects of top-rope or lead climbing in normal rock climbing. Ice climbers usually have a lot experience at rock climbing, so there are many parallels.

Mountaineering Also called "alpine climbing", this is the sport of "climbing" to the top of a mountain or summit without consistent use of your hands to bare weight. Like hiking, the legs usually support most of the body weight during mountaineering.

Lumberjack Climbing There are several sports and competitions involving the climbing of trees. These are all very similar to "Aid Climbing".

Buildering City folk will sometimes get desperate and climb buildings, parking structures, or whatever is around their urban landscape. This sport rarely involves rope or safety devices, and is frequently illegal.

I believe it would be helpful if people who had 'ice climbing' or 'buildering' questions didn't have to post under the the same "climbing" tag. As such, I suggest we ditch the "climbing" tag and use the following list of tags which completely and thoroughly cover all topics:

Rock Climbing, Ice Climbing, Mountaineering, Lumberjack Climbing, Buildering

Having a complete list that covers all topics will also help as we grow into a larger platform with many more users and posts.

  • 3
    Sport climbing is neither. ;)
    – Lost
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 23:05
  • Oh, in my experience "Sport Climbing" is the same as "Lead Climbing". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_climbing Was that not clear? Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 23:08
  • Ha- I was just making a joke. Though I would call sport climbing bolted routes (vs trad climbing where you have to place gear.) There are lead climbers in both circumstances.
    – Lost
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 23:10
  • 3
    "sport climbing is neither" is an old jab at sport climbers. :)
    – DavidR
    Commented Jan 29, 2013 at 17:45
  • 1
    I think every bold point you list could be a tag, and then merge 'rock-climbing' and 'climbing'. Honestly just 'rock-climbing' is still too general considering how many types there are. Maybe add one for gym-climbing? I know you mention it under top-rope, but climbing in a gym is substantially a different experience from real rock.
    – montane
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 0:44
  • Also some gyms offer both sport and top-roping as well as bouldering areas. But just to be more specific from my other comment, all of them will be different from their real rock counterparts is the reason I suggest the addition of the 'gym-climbing' tag.
    – montane
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 0:53
  • 1
    @manoftheson I would be happy with a gym-climbing tag, actually. I just took a look, and no one has asked any questions that would fit there yet. But they haven't asked ice-climbing questions either. gym-climbing would be very useful; I am always looking to learn more about training for climbing. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 3:32
  • 1
    Another climbing-related activity I forgot to mention is Via Ferrata. It's more of a European thing, but there are places in the US to do it.
    – montane
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 9:59

Mountaineering and rock-climbing are quite different, they definitely need to be separate. I would lean towards making rock-climbing a synonym of climbing, but I'm not so sure it will always be used that way.


Just to add to the above answer, ice climbing is also "climbing," but the types of questions would be very different for each. But then, if you don't have an "ice climbing" tag (or a "bouldering" tag), it becomes somewhat irrelevant. I'd definitely keep mountaineering and climbing separate, but there is more of a gray area when it comes to the other two.


Ban "Climbing"

It's hard for me to imagine a proper question about "climbing" that is not rock climbing, although surely something like "If a bear chases me is it safe to climb a tree?" (though an ignorant example) may plausibly come up. In that case it needs a better tag than "climbing". Perhaps tree-climbing, safety-tree, or any more specific term from that community, but climbing is too general.

Tagging a question as + would be appropriate. It's okay to have "tag" and "subtag", but, swallows up way too much of for this to be practical. For instance, once a tag hierarchy reaches depth 6, SE doesn't support this.

I believe you could as an option support requiring a subtag, but this is probably not worth the complication for this stage of outdoors.SE's development.

So it's a judgment call, and in my opinion "rock climbing" is a good, meaningful tag although questions would benefit from also being tagged "bouldering" or "top roping" or "trad", and "climbing" is a meaningless tag, because the part of climbing that means things besides rock climbing can only be muddled up with rock climbing.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .