Life is not interesting enough for some people so they come up with sports like rock climbing to compensate for it. Rock climbing is the sport where people (many of whom have not fully advanced on the scale of total human evolution and still possess more of the simian attributes for climbing and not to mention are hairy as well) climb up rocks (ie. BIG rocks like MOUNTAINS) on skimpy ropes that resemble oversized clotheslines.
The exact reason for climbing up something so rugged and dangerous and then descending back down again to the same place that one started has not yet been ascertained either historically or psychologically. Once, some relatively famous climber, or somebody like that, when asked why he climbed answered "because it is there", at which time the more sane people in his neighborhood started making sure they kept him locked up at night. The closest historians can come to a rationale for climbing is that a lot of men in the early days had horrendously nagging wives. Psychologists pin blame on an escapist form of mentality in which the participant wishes to recede his consciousness back to the level of a squirrel.
In order to climb an individual needs certain items to convey himself up a mountain; a rope, carabiners, a total lack of common sense, a harness, a helmet and it would be really handy to have a mountain itself tucked away somewhere. The rope, the most important piece of climbing equipment that one needs, has to be a regulation rope that has been tested and certified to the limits of its flexibility and strength. If the mental health of the participants were as tested as the rope climbing would be a forgotten sport right up there with Incan basketball (Incan basketball, for those of you not up on the subject, was a primitive game vaguely similar to our basketball with the exception that the losing team was executed, a tradition that today's hockey tires to emulate somewhat without quite the same success.)
A harness, which is a belt that keeps one from falling off the rope, is attached to the waist and legs with the idea that it will hold you to the rope if you fall. In reality what it does is ensure to your relatives that at least this much of your body will be returned to them for burial.
The magic ingredient linking the rope and belt is what is called a 'carabiner' (or 'biner' for climbers who can't pronounce words of more than two syllables) the translations of which from its original Italian means "the freeway to freefalling". A carbiner connects you to the rope and is a system of safety possibly invented by the Marquis de Sade who was noted for having a particular perverse delight in seeing people falling from great heights emitting shrieks of terror and waving their arms wildly. Basically a carabiner, the equipment ones life is dependent upon when up on a cliff, resembles a malformed paper clip on steroids.
Shoes are an important part of a climbers ensemble. Climber shoes resemble ballerina slippers, but have the same foot crippling effectiveness as Chinese foot bindings. 'Climbers foot' is a Podiatrists night mare. The tightness of the shoes rearranges ones toes into a form of origami only the Japanese can appreciate. After wearing climber's shoes for many years many climbers make new careers as cowboy boot testers.
Out in the field the would-be climber will be aided by what is known as a 'belayer', a hopefully trustworthy friend who would control the loose end of the rope and in the event of a mishap be the climbers last human contact other than the priest giving last rites. Folks, here is a list of people you do not want belaying you; Brittany Spears, Dick Cheney, your mother in law, neither Jessica Simpson or her cousin O.J. ( or her uncle Homer for that matter.) Beavis and Butthead, the clerk you were rude to in the check out line the day before, anyone who knows they are a major beneficiary on your will, anyone with a severe case of Attention Deficiency Disorder, and anyone nicknamed 'Butterfingers'. The belayer must be someone you can put your trust in to belay you safely to the top and back, or at least be responsible enough to pick up the pieces afterwards.
END OF PART ONE.