Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Trad vs Sport

One of the threads on UKC has raised a very important point with regards to the difference between 'traditional' and 'sport' climbing (non-climbers: see note*). As sport climbing is so rare in Britain, many climbers here don't understand its attraction, as it is simply not as adventurous (no real risk, relying less on your own initiative, usually not even reaching the top of a given crag).

But of course they are different games, something that was summed up nicely by UKC poster abarro81:
I think a lot of people in the uk, particularly those who dont enjoy pushing themselves technically so much, just arent used to climbing sport so they do it in the same way they go trad climbing.

They'll go out and do a bunch of stuff below their limit and maybe top rope something their mate lead which is a bit harder. I can see how they find this lame - I find easy sport climbing boring tbh. i think those who like sport climbing generally like that you can onsight at your absolute limit and work stuff that at first seems absurdly hard.

A lot of people i know who dont like sport so much have just gone trad climbing with bolts rather than sport climbing in the above way. i think it takes a different approach than trad.
Which mirror my thoughts exactly. There's no doubt that the rush you get of getting to the top of a brilliantly exposed trad route is amazing - but succesfully reaching the lower-off chains on a really hard sport route, which you have been practicing and trying for days, is also a brilliant feeling. As Lito Tejada-Flores wrote years ago, there are lots of different games in climbing, and being able to appreciate the draws of the different games makes climbing the satisfactory and fulfilling hobby that it is.

* 'trad' climbing is when you ascend the rock placing your own equipment in natural features and fissures to save you in the event of a fall, which is removed with little damage to the rock by the person following you; whereas 'sport' climbing sees you relying for safety on bolts and hangers that have been drilled into the rock. Trad is more adventurous than sport, but the relative safety of sport climbing makes it easier to climb at a higher standard, as the only thing you risk hurting when you fall is your ego).

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