Sport Spotlight: Sport Climbing

According to this article from the REI website, “sport climbing is the most rapidly growing type of climbing.” It’s competing for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games and can be performed both indoors and outdoors. (To the best of my knowledge the Olympic bid is for indoor climbing.) The sport’s global governing body is the International Federation of Sport Climbing. Unlike traditional climbing, where the climber places his/her own protection, in sport climbing there are permanent anchors and bolts fixed to the rocks.

Sport Climbing (via

The average distance between bolts on an outdoor sport climbing route is eight feet although the amount of bolts on a climb varies. Climbs vary from around 10 feet to almost 200 feet (for multi-pitch climbs). They are rated based on difficulty, but different countries use different rating systems. In the United States, the Yosemite Decimal System is used. The basic grades in this system go from 5.0 (extremely easy) to 5.15 (extremely difficult).

The anchors make sport climbing much less dangerous than traditional climbing. Sport climbing is less about risk and danger and more about flexibility, strength and endurance. Not surprisingly, sport climbing gives the climber a full-body workout.

The equipment needed for sport climbing is relatively minimal (because the bolts are already in place) and includes a dynamic (aka stretchable) rope, quickdraws (aka extenders which are two carabiners connected by a sewn loop of webbing), a belay device (used to control the rope when belaying), a climbing harness for the climber and belayer, climbing shoes, and chalk bag (recommended but not required).

Sport climbing equipment (via

There are four different ways to complete a climb. An on-sight flash means you completed the entire climb in one try without falling on the rope and without any prior knowledge or information about the climb. A flash means you completed the entire climb on your first attempt without falling on the rope but you had information about how to do the climb. Redpoints are when you successfully complete a climb you’ve practiced before. Pinkpoints are the same as redpoints except all of the quickdraws are pre-placed. This way all you have to do is clip the rope into the carabiner instead of going through the process of removing the quickdraw from your harness and clipping it into the bolt before clipping the rope.

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One Response to Sport Spotlight: Sport Climbing

  1. Pingback: Tips on Choosing a Climbing Camming Device « Climbing Equipment

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