Extreme Sport Climbing
A Short History:
In traditional mountain climbing and rock climbing, bolts are sometimes driven into a section of rock face that's difficult or impossible to climb because it's bare of natural hand holds. During the 1970s, climbers in France began the practice of placing bolts all the way up a difficult surface, allowing a climber to scale it more easily by clipping lines to the bolts instead of relying on traditional mountain climbing gear.
A more and more surfaces were bolted, it occurred to someone that climbing could become a competitive sport, since climbers could be timed on their ascents over a given route. Exactly when and where that happened isn't known.
Sportclimbing has been one of the big international growth sports since 1990. Otherwise climbing has been one of New Zealand's key 'adventure' activities since last century. And when Ed Hillary climbed Everest in 1953, it also became a wider source of national pride.
Until recenty climbing's been a fringe recreation enjoyed by a fortunate few. The advent of indoor climbing walls has changed that. It's made climbing easily accessible and given it a higher profile. The result is that sportclimbing' - climbing under safe conditions - is exploding into a mainstream activity.
Sport climbing is a very 'balanced' activity. It mixes strength with flexibility, power with grace, mind control with joy of achievement. It has big appeal to young people. It's not gender or physique-specific. Anybody can participate at their own level. Yet there's room at the top end to excel.
Competitive sport climbing is now usually done on a climbing wall built especially for that purpose. There are two types of competition, speed and difficulty.
In the difficulty event, climbers have a choice of paths with varying difficulty. A climb is scored on a combination of the height reached in a given period of time and the difficulty of the path chosen.
In the X Games, speed climbing is done on a 60-foot, vertical wall. The difficulty climb uses a 40-foot wall with a 20-foot overhang. Bouldering is a recent offshoot. Originally, climbers worked on boulders to practice a particular move, and bouldering has now become a discipline in itself. As the name suggests, the sport involves climbing a single large rock with no ropes or other mechanical aids.
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