How Climbing Became So Popular – Part 1

Reasons for The Rise in Climbing’s Recent Status

The activity of rock climbing has been going on for thousands of years, even longer if you simply count ascending a natural ridge in the landscape. These formations in the landscape have forever provided humans with new opportunities whether that be vantage points for prey or predators, shade for times of intense heat or simply as landmarks that helped us navigate (think little rock). Climbing them in the way that is practiced in activity centers and is chronicled in action movies however is a fairly new addition to the list of uses we have found for these giant stones. Whether moving vertically or horizontally, climbing is really the act of keeping attached to a wall of rock and moving across its surface, and now we do it for sport. So what made this dangerous activity more appealing to the masses?

Technology Steps Up

Much of this new idea of climbing came into fashion when the necessary safety equipment became affordable. To climb back in the day was risky because most people were free climbers, before harnesses and hooks came into the game. Now kids everywhere can visit a climbing centre and get kitted with a helmet and slip into a rig that will actually prevent them from falling. Thus climbing without falling eliminates the very primal fear that has prevented many people from ascending outdoor spaces for so long. Basophobia is the fear of falling, which is actually inbuilt into our brains as a safety measure, and yet death-defying climbers all over the world manage to fight it off. Acrophobia is different, this is simply a negative experience brought on by being high up, something which also comes with climbing. The aforementioned climbing centers which have their own climbing walls, don’t typically reach too high, are often indoors and therefore can be low enough to the ground so that they don’t trigger a reaction in someone with the psychological tick.

Climbing walls themselves are in fact a technological addition to the activity, allowing for indoor practice and an artificial learning curve to be constructed. The climbing holds which are commonly seen as multicolour rounded notches that protrude from the walls, are secure and purely man made elements that help turn any surface into a climbable one. Made from varying materials the climbing wall and its elements have become more affordable and more widespread meaning that not only can those already orientated towards climbing get in some solid practice, but there prevalence at group outings and parties have no doubt had a knock on effect on participants who had never tried climbing before.

Of course, one of the most remarkable and ubiquitous pieces of technology is the camera. Today anyone with a smartphone (which is most of the western world) has access to a camera, what this means is that climbing on all scales is better documented now than ever before. In an age where sharing the smallest of achievements is a regular daily activity, those who perform something as exciting as climbing are often eager to share their feats with everyone they know, increasing the spread of climbing exponentially.