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Performance differences for intermediate rock climbers who successfully and unsuccessfully attempted an indoor sport climbing route

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As a popular recreational and competitive adventure sport the research base for rock climbing has developed in parallel with the growth of the sport. To date researchers have not attempted to explain the performance differences between those who successfully complete an ascent of a route and those who fall en-route. The aim of our study was to identify factors contributing to a successful or unsuccessful ascent of an indoor sport climbing route. Eighteen intermediate level climbers attempted an onsight ascent of a grade 19 Ewbank scale (5.10b YDS, 6a Sport) climb as either a lead climb or top rope. Results indicated that general climbing experience and number of years lead climbing significantly affected success on the route and appeared to provide successful climbers with a greater feeling of self confidence prior to ascent (p < 0.05). This resulted in significantly lower time taken at key points on the route and a lower heart rate throughout for the successful climbers (p < 0.05). Our findings suggest that prior experience plays a significant role in the successful climbing performance for intermediate level climbers in an on-sight context, regardless of whether lead climbing or top roping.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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