It doesn’t take an expert to know that rock climbing and rope access are intrinsically linked. A popular transition, many rock climbers have turned their hobby into a career by making the move into rope access. There has been a notable and significant rise in the popularity of rock climbing and bouldering in recent years, which can only be a good thing for working at height prospects. In this post we discuss how one has influenced the other.


Similarities and differences

There are numerous similarities between the two disciplines, as well as a few key differences. The techniques used in rope access were initially developed from those used in rock climbing and caving. As a result, the equipment used is not dissimilar and requires a closely related level of knowledge.

Both rock climbing and rope access present comparable risks, such as falls from height, trapping injuries and manual handling injuries. However, one key difference between the two is that rope access is a heavily governed industry. With health and safety being a number one priority for all workers involved in the sector, the risks are somewhat less than it is for those who may climb as a hobby.

Rock climbing

Another key difference is the rope system deployed. In working at height situations, a two-rope system is used to ensure safer descents and these systems are only operated by highly trained technicians. Furthermore, the equipment used in rope access is specifically designed for industrial use. Of course what both disciplines offer is a certain thrill and adrenaline rush. The rise in popularity of rock climbing can likely be attributed to a greater pursuit of this experience, given our increasingly digital lifestyles.


Career path

Rock climbing is understandably a popular lead-in to a career as a rope access technician. Climbers tend to have an affinity with the thrill of being high up and many would like to incorporate this into their day jobs, rather than just a hobby. This transition from one to the other is therefore a very natural career path.

The core skills of rock climbing and rope access are inherently the same; primarily the ability to rig ropes, as well as execute safe ascents and descents in perilous situations. Climbers will naturally have a head start in pursuing a career in rope access, as they are often able to master the skills more easily and progress more quickly. For more information on whether a career in rope access may be for you, have a read of our previous blog post.


It is easy to see how the techniques of rock climbing have evolved into a worldwide industry. For any rock climbers who are looking to turn their hobby into a career, you will need to pass IRATA training courses. Get in touch with a member of the Martin Castle Ltd team to see how we can help.