Climbing is one of the oldest forms of recreation on the planet. From the dawn of humanity, we have been scaling mountains for physical and social reasons. It is a beautiful, limitless activity that is practiced by millions around the globe each year. Rock climbing emerged as a structured exercise in the early 1800s and was initially used as training for larger climbs up some of the world’s highest peaks.
As the years went on, climbing continued to grow in sophistication, with chalk being used for grip and crash pads brought in for safety. It wasn’t until the 1980s that dedicated indoor climbing facilities began opening in the UK, allowing dedicated climbers to train all-year round.
With increased exposure to a wider audience through social media, climbing has taken off as a sport in the past 10 years. A community of climbers have emerged, some of which are instructors at our parks! Increased communication has led to new courses, projects and techniques in the past few years. From the USA to France, Morocco to Zimbabwe, new climbing areas are opening all the time.
Competitive climbing events have continued to increase, with the International Federation of Sport Climbing founded in 2007 by 48 countries. Just over 10 years later, it was agreed it would become an Olympic event, an incredible rise for something that wasn’t even considered a sport not too long ago.
Also known as ‘Sport Climbing’ at the Olympics, climbing’s addition was decided in 2016. Female and male events will be held for the Games’ newest sport, with 40 competitors taking part. Scoring will be divided into three disciplines. Lead climbing, where one climber takes the harness and connects to other climbers in their team is the first routine. Secondly, climbers will be judged on pure individual speed.
The third area, bouldering, involves climbing without a harness on rocks, and is again judged on timing as well as the difficulty of the route. This innovation could be the difference between the first climbing gold and silver medals ever won. One of the most international sports we’ve looked at, there is no dominant nation expected to bring home the prizes at its first Olympic meeting.
The newly formed Team GB Climbing Team is run by the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). Shauna Coxsey leads the British charge in Tokyo, with Shauna the most successful competition climber in the UK. Her third place at the 2019 IFSC Climbing World Championships meant she comfortably qualified for the Olympic event. There are other hot prospects on her shoulders, with Will Bosi and Molly Thompson-Smith two of Team GB’s future medal hopes. The team has only existed for a few years and are constantly on the lookout for future athletes, which is just as well because our parks are the perfect place youngsters to practice their climbing credentials.
Climbing is one of our most popular activities. We have crazy climbing walls to scale, with instructors guiding climbers through the adrenaline-filled adventure. Climbing sessions are suitable for over 7s and cost just £12. To add to the challenge, there are crazy climber walls to test your strength, speed and determination, and we’ve even thrown in a night session for you to enjoy, giving climbers a completely different perspective as they rise high above our parks. These exciting alternatives also cost just £12. All that’s left to do is imagine you’re starring in one of the first climbing events at the Olympics.