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History of Rock Climbing

Maya Pillai
Walter Parry Haskett Smith is often referred to as the Father of Rock Climbing. The story, takes a closer look at the past events.
Today, rock climbing is recognized as a sport where a participant has to climb a natural steep rocky formation or man-made rock walls. Rock climbing tests the agility and strength of the participant.
A rock climber has to strike a balance between his body weight and his mental strength. This is a dangerous sport and one should have proper training and knowledge before making an attempt.

Historical Overview of Rock Climbing

Although initially rock climbing may have been taken up as a hobby, there are many evidences regarding the existence of climbing in earlier times. Take a look at a few historical instances.
One historical evidence is a Chinese watercolor belonging to 400 BC that depicts men climbing rocks.
In the 12th century, native Americans who lived in southwest Anasazi, had carved steps and drilled holes to hold post on the steep cliffs in Chaco Canyon.
In 1492, Antoine de Ville climbed Mont Aiguille, a rock tower in south of France. He used various skilled techniques to achieve this mission. Later, these same techniques were used to siege castles.
In 1695, ropes were used to climb rocks. It was first used by Martin of Scotland to climb St. Kilda.
Towards the close of the 18th century, Mont Blanc was ascended and it is said that the modern history of rock climbing and mountaineering started thereon.
During the 16th and the 17th century, rock climbing was considered part of Alpine mountaineering and rescue operations. It is only in the 19th century that it came to be recognized as a sporting activity.
Rock or mountain climbing became popular in many European countries during the late 19th century. The first European country to give importance to this activity was Germany.
In 1903, around five hundred enthusiasts climbed Elbe Sandstone Mountains. It was during this time, many clubs were formed.
In England, around the same time, solo climbing was seen as a sport. Many solo climbers mounted complex and difficult cliff formations. Initially, there were no formal clubs for the rock climbers. However, people would meet informally in a common place to share and discuss their climbing experiences and also exchanged notes on climbing techniques.
Dolomite Mountains of Italy became the third greatest European rock climbing zone after a seventeen-year-old German student from Munich succeeded in climbing these dangerous mountains all by himself.
It became a separate sports activity in the United States in 1950s. Several mountaineering techniques were also used.
Various new techniques and styles were introduced as part of changes to this sport. The enthusiasm of rock climbers has transformed it from a hobby to a sport.
A new trend is indoor rock climbing many clubs in developed countries have facilities to install artificial rock ranges and cliffs as simulation landscape. Indoor climbing eliminates the risks of outdoor climbing and also provides an unforgettable experience to those residing in places where there are no natural cliffs.