What’s the Difference between a Traverse Wall® and Top Rope Climbing Wall?

What’s the Difference between a Traverse Wall® and Top Rope Climbing Wall?

Even though indoor rock climbing has been ever-increasing in popularity, many people do not know the difference between a Traverse Wall® and a Top Rope Wall, the two most popular types of school climbing walls. We’re here to help you understand what they are all about!

What is a Traverse Wall®?

A Traverse Wall® is horizontal climbing wall where the goal is to make is across the wall, rather than to the top. Traverse Walls are typically no higher than 10 feet high and don’t involve ropes, harnesses or safety equipment, other than safety mats. They are available in many different panel styles, including cross-curricular surfaces that can be written on, and rock-realistic surfaces that help to build advanced climbing skills.

Girl climbing on a Traverse Wall

What is a Top Rope Climbing Wall?

A Top Rope Wall is a vertical climbing wall, typically 20 feet high or higher, that requires special safety equipment, in addition to safety mats – a safety rope, harnesses, carabiners, belay devices and helmets. The rope is anchored at the top of the climbing wall and attaches to the climber’s harness and to the belayer’s harness. As the climber ascends, the belayer pulls in the rope slack to protect against a long fall. At the completion of the climb, the belayer lowers the climber down using the rope. Top Rope Climbing Walls include a comprehensive on-site training to cover all of the safety protocols and procedures. Top Rope Climbing Walls are available in many different panel styles and can include varying angles to minimize or increase difficulty levels.

Top Rope Climbing Wall by Everlast Climbing

What are the Main Differences Between a Traverse Wall® and Top Rope Wall?

Top Rope Climbing walls provide more opportunities for climbing skill development, positive risk taking, communication, team building and trust building compared to a Traverse Wall®.

Additionally, the minimum age to fully participate in a Top Rope Climbing Wall is higher than that of a Traverse Wall®. We recommend climbers be 10 years or older for Top Rope Climbing due to the added maturity and responsibility required to belay, whereas children as young as three years old can climb on a Traverse Wall®.

Is Anything the Same Between a Traverse Wall® and Top Rope Wall?

Yes! Both types of climbing walls are fun to use and allow for participation from a wide range of fitness and ability levels. Both types of walls also attract participants who are not drawn to traditional team sports. And most importantly, they both offer many physical, social-emotional and cognitive benefits.

These are not the only types of rock climbing. If you would like to explore even more of them, check out this past blog post!

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