A Few Historic Facts on Rock Climbing

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Rock climbing has become a sporting activity only late in the beginning of the 20th century although until then many forms of climbing have been performed over the centuries. But it is true that the first forms of this sport were related mostly to mountaineering with many adepts in Germany and England exploring the Alps.

The last quarter of the 19th century holds the activity of rock climbers who approached mainly three areas: the Lake District of England, Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Saxony, and the Dolomites in Italy. It is important to mention that rock climbing has evolved from the alpine necessity to a sporting activity.

Mountaineers were the first pioneers of rock climbing since they have to confront with all sorts of situation when engaged in climbing expedition. While it has primarily started in Europe (with the 1880s), it has become known in the United States only late in the 1920s. The traditional methods accompanying this activity are known as free climbing and aid climbing with the last one being performed through the use of climbing equipment, while the former one depending mainly on the skills of the climbers.

With free climbing, it was required for the climbers to use not only the skills but also the physical strength and ability to do this without being aided by any form of equipment. This was also the early of form of climbing, because explorers used equipment only in those situations where they were unable to move further due to a difficult route.

It was in the 1960s when American climbers have discovered that piton used with aid climbing were damaging the rocks in a serious way and this was the reason that determined the invention of slinging machine nuts that came as an alternative to the piton ‘tool’. France was the first country to combine free and aid climbing methods in the 1980s and had as result a more accessible type of rock climbing for the sportsmen and women.

The 60s and 70s have been the period of time where American climbers have dedicated their time and skills into finding and developing improved techniques into climbing. It was only with the introduction of climbing safety equipment that rock climbing became a sporting activity because it enabled the climbers to perform this activity with the right safety caution and gear. These days, rock climbing is performed only in the form of aid climbing method regardless if it is done inside the gyms or outdoors in the nature.


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