Climbing in the Olympics

As you may have heard, climbing is now an Olympic sport. A far cry from dirt bags in Yosemite or sketchy barefoot climbing Eastern Europeans.

Climbing will be introduced in 3 forms: sport, bouldering and speed.

One of the more interesting of these forms is speed climbing. It’s interesting because it’s not nearly as frequently practiced recreationally as other forms. Sure, you may hear of the speed record on The Nose. However, The Nose speed record is often set by efficiency of climbing technique, not speed as it will appear in the Olympics.

For those who haven’t seen this type of speed climbing, it looks like this:

As such it may present a stumbling block for many other climbers and that is because competitors in the Olympics will be judged on their success in each of these categories. That’s right, you will not go to the Olympics to compete in Bouldering, but rather compete in all three.

What does this mean? Well, the difficulty is that this isn’t reflective of how most people climb. Most people will excel at one type of climbing. Mastery through specialization. This probably means that we may not see the best boulders, or best sport climbers competing for gold. To us, this is a bit of a shame.

However, we must think of the bigger picture and the bigger picture being painted here is of a fantastic sport that has been given a bit more of a spotlight. Really, it doesn’t matter if the format isn’t perfect – what matters is getting more people to know and love climbing.

Feature image by mike_fleming.


Top 5: Best Climbing Movies

2018 is going to be a fantastic year for climbing movies, with The Dawn Wall and Free Solo – documentaries following two of the biggest names in rock climbing, both being released. Therefore, we offer our pick of the Top 5 Best Climbing Movies… we’d love to hear your recommendations!

5. Valley Uprising (2014)
A history of the Yosemite valley climbing scene. An in-depth look at the evolution of American rock-climbing, from the pioneers in the 1950s, the stonemasters of the 1970s and later the stone monkeys, right up to the trail-blazers leading climbing today. Well-made and an interesting look at the history of the most famous climbing spot in the world.

4. First Ascent (the series)
Terrifying, emotional exciting and crazy. Featuring the Alex Honnold classic Alone on the Wall, where he attempts to free solo Half Dome. This is followed by an emotional journey to Patagonia led by Stanley Leary. After this the climbing gets hard again as Chris Sharma tackles his latest project.

3. Reel Rock 10 (2015)
Really, you could put just about any Reel Rock here, and we didn’t want this just to be a list of Reel Rock’s, so we’ve picked 10. A great mix of entertaining features, such as the zany climbing competition Showdown at Horseshoe Hell and more serious efforts like Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold’s Fitz Traverse in A Line Across the Sky. The Fitz Traverse earned the duo the Piolet d’Or. Top this off with a tribute to rock climbing legend Dean Potter and it is a fantastic mix.

2. The Sufferfest 1 & 2 (2014)
Cedar Wright at his hilarious, gonzo best. Sufferfest 1 chronicles Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright as they attempt to climb all the 14,000ft peaks in California by technical climbing route. Back for Sufferfest 2, they attempt to climb 45 of the most iconic desert towers. In both movies, their mode of transport? Bicycle. A tremendous feat of endurance and a very entertaining story along the way.

1. Meru (2015)
Meru manages to tell an engaging, emotional story like no other climbing movie out there. It follows the attempt by Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk to climb the Shark’s Fin route on the Meru Peak in the Himalayas. Aside from the mammoth task and the beautiful scenery, one of the most captivating aspects to it, is how it shows the fact that climbing – and life – don’t always go as planned.