Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet (or indeed any other part of the body) to ascend a steep object. It is done both for recreation (to reach an inaccessible place, or for its own enjoyment) and professionally, as part of activities such as maintenance of a structure, or military operations.
Climbing activities include:
- Competition Climbing: A formal, competitive sport of recent origins, normally practiced on artificial walls that resemble natural rock formations. The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) is the official organization governing competition climbing worldwide and is recognized by the IOC and GAISF and is a member of the International World Games Association (IWGA). Competition Climbing has three major disciplines: Lead, Bouldering and Speed.
- Mountain climbing (Mountaineering): Ascending mountains for sport or recreation. It often involves rock and/or ice climbing.
- Rock climbing: Ascending rock formations, often using climbing shoes and a chalk bag. Equipment such as ropes, bolts, nuts, hexes and camming devices are normally employed, either as a safeguard or for artificial aid.
- Ice climbing: Ascending ice or hard snow formations using special equipment designed for the purpose, usually ice axes and crampons. Protective equipment is similar to rock climbing, although protective devices are different (ice screws, snow wedges).
- Bouldering: Ascending boulders or small outcrops, often with climbing shoes and a chalk bag or bucket. Usually, instead of using a safety rope from above, injury is avoided using a crash pad and a human spotter (to direct a falling climber on to the pad).
- Tree climbing: Ascending trees without harming them, using ropes and other equipment. This is a less competitive activity than rock climbing.
- Rope climbing: Climbing a short, thick rope for speed. Not to be confused with roped climbing, as in rock or ice climbing.
- Pole climbing (gymnastic): Climbing poles and masts without equipment.
- Pole climbing (lumberjack): Lumberjack tree-trimming and competitive tree-trunk or pole climbing for speed using spikes and belts.
- Net climbing: Climbing net structures. The climbing structures consist of multiple interconnected steel reinforced ropes attached to the ground and steel pole(s). Climbing nets are usually installed on playgrounds to assist children in developing their balancing and climbing skills.
- Buildering: Climbing urban structures - usually without equipment - avoiding normal means of ascent like stairs and elevators. Aspects of buildering can be seen in the art of movement known as Parkour.
- Rope access: Industral climbing, usually abseiling, as an alternative to scaffolding for short works on exposed structures.
Rock, ice, and tree climbing all usually use ropes for safety or for aid. Pole climbing and rope climbing were among the first exercises to be included in the origins of modern gymnastics in the late 18th century and early 19th century.
In popular culture
Climbing has been featured in many popular movies, such as Cliffhanger and Mission: Impossible II, but is often inaccurately portrayed by Hollywood movies and popular media. Exceptions include the films The Eiger Sanction and Touching the Void. The sport of rock climbing was swept up in the extreme sport craze in the late 1990s which led to images of rock climbers on everything from anti-perspirant and United States Marine Corps commercials, to college promotional materials. Both pole and rope climbing can be seen in circus performances, such as Cirque du Soleil. The sport of rope climbing was once an official gymnastic event in the Olympic Games, but was dropped after 1932. The Czech republic and France have resurrected it and contests are held in public gathering places, such as shopping centers, as well as in gymnasiums. Pole and mast climbing were popular in the 18th and 19th century in village festivals in certain parts of Europe, and were still part of the physical education curriculum at the United States Naval Academy in the 1960s.