40 Rock Climbing Facts – That’ll Make You Fall in Love with Rock Climbing

One day, George Mallary was asked in an interview, “Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?”

He said, “Because it is there.”

Flores says that you never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves.

Rock climbing and mountaineering are extreme sports that in the true spirit of sporting, take us higher, inside and outside.

We have brought to you some rare and a few well-known rock climbing facts about the history of modern ascending and why you should give this thrill a chance in this life.

  1. The first-ever IFSC (International Federation of Sports Climbing) World Championship featuring lead and speed climbing events was inaugurated in Frankfurt, Germany in 1991 in which 110 climbers from 22 countries participated.

    Rock Climbing will be a part of the Summer Olympics for the year 2020 in Tokyo, Japan, in which 40 contestants from around the world will compete in sport climbing, boulder climbing, and speed climbing. Qualification matches were held in 2019 and special places were granted to IFSC World Championship winners.

    The International Federation of Sports Climbing has 91 member federations numbering 16 in America, 43 in Europe, 22 in Asia, 6 in Africa, and 4 in Oceania.

    About 2500 licensed athletes have registered with IFSC and their average age is 18 years.
  1. The first recorded rock climbing trek was undertaken by Antoine de Ville in 1492 when he ironically ascended Mount Inaccessible, which is a 300mt tower of rock to the South of France’s Grenoble. He used the castle sieging techniques of those times to traverse the height as ordered by his King.
  1. The first recorded solo free climb was of Cathedral Park scaled by John Muir in 1869 in Yosemite National Park.
  1. Modern climbers live and relive the thrill of stepping upon the rocks. While rock climbing is believed to be rooted hundreds of years before us evidenced by native South-West American tribes habitating amongst the Mesa cliffs and the burial graves in Mustang discovered by archaeologists in Nepal which can only be reached by ascending rocks. 
  1. Rock Climbing was first recognized as a sport only in the 1880s when a mountain called Napes Needle was scaled by Walter Parry Hackett Smith.
  1. The Magnesium Carbonate Chalk used by rock climbers and Mountaineers of today was first put to use for this activity in the 1950s by a mathematician turned Air Force officer called John Gill who started training with gymnastic exercises to begin bouldering and then brought forth our chalk to keep our hands from sweating as we ascend.
  1. The record for the fastest climb of Mount Everest is held by Pemba Dorje Sherpa who reached the top within 8 hours and 10 minutes.
  1. Rock Climbing is great for a full-body workout and burns around 500 to 900 calories per hour. A 1997 study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that the heart rate and the energy output of rock climbers on an indoor climbing wall were similar to those running at the speed of 8-11 minutes per mile.

    Rock climbing has been proven to enhance cardiorespiratory fitness, increase the endurance of muscles, improve flexibility, stamina, and perfect balancing abilities.
  1. The longest rock climb ever was completed by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson. Dawn Wall, half a mile in height is a hard and slidy granite structure. 
  1. Schurman Rock in Seattle is the first artificial climbing wall of the World. It was built two years before 1939 and designed by Clark Schurman. 
  1. The toughest sport climb in the world is named Silence. Located in the Flatanger area of Norway, the highest ever point on its slope was conquered by Adam Ondra with a 9c grade for the climb. Adam Ondra is recognized as the best sports climber in the World at present.
  1. The Basecamp climbing gym in Reno, Nevada, USA, has the highest artificial climbing wall in the world. It is 51.56m tall and has a climbing surface of 49.85m. Attached to a car park on the free side, this Basecamp wall offers climbing grades widely ranging from IFSC certified 15m speed climb, multi-pitch climb, full height, and two ledges.

    The Tallest freestanding wall for climbing is located in Georgia at Banning Mills and reaches a height of 41.89m.
  1. About 4.6 million people in the USA are currently participating in some sort of climbing activity, be it sport, indoor, or outdoor bouldering. It takes the seventieth place amongst the total of 111 activities in the nation with the participation growing up to 148,287 people between 2015 and 2016, as marked by PHIT America.
  1. The Annapurna is the most dangerous mountain in the world, at 8091m height, it was first conquered by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal. This 10th highest mountain of the world has lost us 69 lives out of just 261 attempted climbs.
Rock climbing facts
  1. The tallest ice climbing wall of the world measures just 20m and is located in the O2 World Building of Seoul, Korea. 
  1. A study in the US found that 49 percent of all injuries sustained during climbing consist of fractures. Sprains and Strains make up 29 percent. And about half of the injuries impact the lower body.
  1. The modern climbing rope, called the Kernmantle rope, was invented by a German Company in 1953 by placing a synthetic protective sheath over the nylon woven core, making it light in weight, easier to hold, with increased elasticity and safety values.
  1. The fastest climb on a big wall was a feat achieved in 2 hours and 19 minutes by Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds on breaking the then speed record on The Nose.
  1. Reinhold Messner was the first person to climb all 14 mountains in the world measuring over 8000m in 1986, without any supplementary oxygen!
  1. Angela Eiter holds the hardest grade of 9b by a female for climbing Planta de Shiva, which is the hardest climb ever to be accomplished by a female.
  1. About 1000- 1500 people in the US are taking their first rock climbing lessons every day and about 25 million people around the world are scaling heights regularly.
  1. Libor Horza made the world record for the speediest climb in the 2014 IFSC Climbing World Cup in Arco.
  1. Rock climbing is known to heal the fear of high altitudes. Many people take over this activity for this very purpose. The fear of heights (acrophobia) and the fear of falling (basophobia) can be reduced, if not completely vanished. We suggest you take rock climbing lessons and focus your mind to get over your fears.
  1. Rock Climbing is of widely different varieties, we have listed fourteen most popular types of climbing practiced around the world.
  • Free soloing
  • Lead climbing
  • Highballing
  • Mountaineering
  • Bouldering
  • Toprope climbing
  • Trad climbing
  • Aid climbing
  • Sport climbing
  • Multi-pitch climbing
  • Rope soloing
  • Deepwater climbing
  • Ice climbing
  1. An average of about 30 people die while rock climbing every year. This was found out by a study spanned over 55 years from 1951 to 2012.
  1. El Capitan is the highest wall face for free solo climbing while also being one of the most treacherous slopes to ascend, almost vertical!  This 900m high rock face was ascended by Allex Honnold in 3 hours and 56 minutes. 
  1. There are about 20 different holds used in indoor rock climbing gyms known by various names such as crimps, volume, sloper, pocket, jug, and edge. Polyurethane resin is the material used to make most rock climbing holds.
  1. The invention of the nylon rope and carabiners occurred in the 1940s due to their utility in World War 2.
  1. The Yosemite decimal system was first published in 1952 in ‘A Climber’s Guide to Tahquitz Rock’.
  1. Trail lines, multi-step aid ladders, and hanging bivouacs were invented by Emilio Comici in 1931 while discovering techniques to climb big walls. He ascended the Northwest face of the Civetta at 4000ft.
  1. The most famous rock climber in the world, Alex Honnold, has a net worth of 1.5 million dollars.
  1. There is scientific evidence that rock climbing improves mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, ADHD, and bipolar syndrome.

    Climbing activities are well known for their abilities to bring the mind to focus. We are intuitively nervous, as humans, of falling off high structures. This activity has been well proven in helping people to get over their phobias due to increased self-confidence and in treating mental disorders by bringing the mind into a focussed meditative state.

    Climbing works well for relieving stress. There comes an internal drive for achieving more after each climb is accomplished.

    This art of dancing on the cliff ends should be encouraged in people suffering from mental health issues.
  1. There is an unspoken rule in gyms that offer climbing lessons, the most important one is to be aware, there might be people falling from the top.
  1. Climbing has been proven to improve balance, coordination, and motor skills in children. We learn how to balance our bodies and shift our weight according to the footing while climbing, as children learn fast, this is a highly effective way in increasing their motor coordination skills and balancing abilities. 
  1. Climbing improves communication skills. The signals and signs between a group of climbers need to be as short and clear and fast as possible to avoid mishaps and undue injuries. Lack of effective communication on a slope can lead to grave disasters. Climbers master the art of communication, on the rope, and even on the plains!
  1. Bouldering has five different systems of grading. North America widely uses the V scale, also known as the Hueco Scale in which grades are measured from V0 to V17.

    The Fontainebleau system is the most popular grading system in Europe and was founded in France.

    North America also uses the B system of grading in which B3 is the hardest grade.

    Japan uses the Dankyu system of grading whose name originates from martial arts. The system has kyu and dan measurements where Kyu 7 is the easiest grade and Kyu 1 is the toughest. The hardest grade after Kyu is 1-Dan.

    Mountaineering, free climbing, ice, and mixed climbing and bouldering and aid climbing are the five types of graded climbing activities.
  1. There are over 450 rock climbing gyms in the USA and many keep sprouting every month. While as far back as 1939, hardly two architectural climbing apparatuses were recognized, at the University of Washington and in the University of Leeds in England where stone walls on campus grounds were treated by climbers.
  1. The climbing community’s first grand debate took place over the climbing style. A German climber called Paul Preus published an essay in 1911 in the German Alpine Journal where he criticized the then leading climbers for not climbing on the basis of physical abilities alone and instead relying on pitons to pull themselves upward. He referred to the piton as an emergency aid.
  1. Bouldering was first reported in Fontainebleau, near Paris in the mid 20th century. Bouldering refers to climbs that are undertaken without ropes upon boulders and cliffs of not an excessive height where the climber can land safely after attempting the ascend.
  1. The Clean Climbing Revolution occurred in 1972 when Yvon Chouinard, Doug Robinson, and Tom Frost stated in the Chouinard catalog that the climbing resources were being destroyed by the continuous hammering of pitons along commonly entered climbing treads. They encouraged the use of less environmentally damaging techniques for ensuring protection during climbs, both free and aided. 

Piton refers to a metal spike that is driven into a crack or crevice in the rock with the help of a hammer. This remained the primary form of protection for climbers for over seventy long years. 

After this interference, nuts, hexacentrics, and machined aluminum devices emerged that could be embedded or fitted into natural defects in rocks.