Rock Climbing as a Sport – Part 1

This is the first article in a two part series on Rock Climbing as a Sport by Mr. Ajit S. Kushe, International Rock Climbing Referee.


The Call of the Wild


Man has always been intrigued and attracted by the unknown and the wild. From times, Immemorial Adventurers and Explorers have ventured to tame the Nature and conquer the unexplored. It has been this enterprise and spirit of adventure that has taken man to the Moon and beyond.


Mountaineering is a sport that captures this spirit of adventure. A sport that needs only two accessories: a big heart and the wilderness. From Cliffs and Pinnacles climbing to Trekking and Himalayan expeditions, scores of thrill seekers, venture out to the Rock & Mountains to enjoy nature in all her glory.


Mountaineering is a true test of endurance. Both mind and body are pushed to the maximum limits. This is one sport in which every step you take brings out new challenges. It brings to the fore and nurtures ones survival instincts. The unpredictability, the harshness of the terrain, the breathtaking views around you, the sheer physical stress and the risks makes this sport unparalleled.


The major reasons for the growing popularity of this sport are:

  • People wanting to test themselves and get their Adrenalin rush.
  • Dearth of green areas in cities. This is making people reach to the mountains to get fresh air and some greenery around them.
  • Easily affordable, as not much of equipment is required.


As easy as this sport sounds to take up as a hobby, there are a few hurdles that are preventing it from taking off:


  • The inherent risk of injury
  • Lack of adequate practice facilities
  • Seasonality of the sport
  • Need for the most basic of infrastructure – The hills.


Mountaineering as a sport is much more popular in North and East India due to the abundance of mountain and hills around, and Rock Climbing is in the
West and South due to the huge Rock Cliffs and Pinnacles available.


Rock-Climbing involves different methods of Climbing on Natural Rocks on Boulders or Cliffs, depending on the shape, size or formation of the Rock Surface, or use of equipments and techniques. Along with climbing up, also called as ascending the Rock surface, there are also different ways of climbing down, also called as Descending, in which Rappelling is one which is  fast and a bit of thrill and enjoyment.


Climbing and Personality Development


All sports build & develop character. Climbing provides various challenges and is a very good medium for Personality Development. The sport helps develop a number of faculties:


Endurance: Climbing is an endurance sport. At every step a new challenge awaits the climber. As you go higher the course intensifies. This helps build a ‘Never say Die’ attitude. An attitude that helps one takes on bigger and greater challenges and succeeds.


Decision Making: Climbing is all about taking the best possible route to your goal. As the climber is encountered with a choice of holds to move up, he has to decide which the best possible route is. This hones the decision-making skills, as he has to quickly weigh all the possibilities and take a sound decision.


Flexibility: Climbing is as unpredictable as life. As a result one needs to be flexible and be able to think on one’s feet. This trains the mind to adapt quickly to changing situations and yet achieve goals.


Risk Taking: Climbing is a risky sport. As a climber takes on tougher routes he develops the confidence to push himself and take calculated risks. This sport develops courage and confidence in oneself, to take on greater tasks and deliver on them.


Physical Attributes: The sport develops a range of physical attributes: Physical strength, mind – body co-ordination and power of concentration.


The sport can also be practised as a means of pure recreation in the surrounding Rocks or cliffs available in the neighbourhood.


The author, Mr. Ajit S. Kushe, is an International Referee for Sports Climbing, and a Rock Climbing Coach.