Wow... I've really enjoyed the conversation we've generated regarding rock climbing and in particular, Makuaa Gulch. But we are actually talking about several different things. "Rock climbing" with ropes is as one person said, using your feet and arms, and the rope is attached to you via a harness, and is only for safety. You don't actually utilize the rope for any assistance in the actual climbing. In fact, that can be quite a dangerous habit to start. Then there are 2 methods to use for the climb...one is where the rope is a fixed line (with or without a belayer) from above with stable anchors(much safer), or you can have your belayer at the bottom and you set your protection as you climb. This second method is very technical and difficult to do unless you are quite experienced at both the climbing and the hardware.
Next you can simply "ascend" a fixed line. This is used when you just want to get up a rope by one of the methods I descibed before. This is not "climbing" in a pure sense because all you are doing is going up a rope. You cannot/should not do this on anything other than rope (i.e. cables/phone lines/ frayed rope). In these scenerios all your weight, not to mention your life, is hanging on the line. And you need to have the proper match between your ascender/prussiks and the rope,otherwise there won't be enough friction. Confused.... I am!!!!!
Last of all is what we currently have here in Hawaii..... or so it seems to my VERY limited experience here......cables/lines/etc in strategic places to assist in scrambling/climbing up very steep slopes. Since you are not attached to these lines, only holding on to them, it is really only a glorified handhold, and just as dangerous. That's because you can get a false sense of security, and.... your hand can slip very easily as some people have told us. Nonetheless, this is really all that is necessary in the few places I've seen so far. Oohhhh,...... and assumming it's okay to fall if there is a swimming hole below is well..... ...let the guy who broke his leg doing that up Makuaa a few weeks ago respond to that. In fact, maybe Gene can tell us the morbid stats of how many of the hiker's deaths are related to falls where there was a cable or rope involved????
If you are interested in technical climbing, the climbing gym is an excellent place to learn and the shop there has comprable prices to REI cataloge (my personal black hole for excess income!!!!). Aloha for now...........