Rock Climbing

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Rock Climbing in New Zealand

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The sport in New Zealand has experienced an almost exponential growth in popularity during it's relatively short history. The increase can in part be attributed to the availability of indoor rockclimbing  walls and media coverage of New Zealand Sportclimbing competitions. Throughout the sport's history New Zealand  Rock Climbing has earned an international reputation, mainly because the country has some of the best Places to Climb on the planet.

Rock Climbing in New Zealand

Rock Climbing History

The history of Rock Climbing in New Zealand stems from Mountaineering where climber's desired to climb progressively more extreme peaks and that in turn drove climbers to develop better safety equipment and new rockclimbing techniques. In preparation to for the next peak, mountaineers would climb shorter but more extreme rockclimbing routes in order to hone their skills. Initially this activity was considered as just another form of training, however by about 1925 it began to evolved into a sport in its own right. It was about that time climbers began to grade the difficulty of each climb in order to measure their rockclimbing ability and to gauge their performance against other climbers. 

Because the sport spread to different countries before international standards could be developed and accepted, many countries devised their own route grading system. As a result there now a number of different grading systems used throughout the world, which can be a little confusing. New Zealand has adopted the Australian "Ewbank" numerical grading system which uses a single numerical value to indicate route difficulty.

The popularity of rockclimbing is growing, equipment continues to evolve and the grading systems used to measure route difficulty are frequently extended as climbers improve their capabilities.

The Modern Sport Of Rockclimbing

The appeal of modern rockclimbing can in part be attributed a change in public perception of the extreme sports. Even during it's recent history the sport was perceived as an activity that was likely to end in death, however opinions are changing to the point where people think of the sport (as having some inherent dangers) but where the risk could be controlled to an acceptable level. This combined with peoples desire to challenge themselves and experience the great outdoors all motivate people to learn to climb.

Another important factor influencing the sport's popularity is our access to an increasing number of great places to climb, especially in New Zealand. The advent of Indoor wall has contributed enormously to access and allows people to climb in a more controlled environment than is generally available outdoors. Indoor walls have also become favored by experienced traditional climbers seeking a place to climb when the weather  precludes the the use of outdoor areas.

 

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Copyright Steven Riddell 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 & 2003.