The history of rock climbing dates back to the late 19th century. Although Colorado was home for the earliest rock climbers, the place became popular for rock climbing only by the turn of the 20th century.
Rock climbing was earlier seen as a part of mountaineering; mountaineers indulged in rock climbing in preparation for a climbing expedition. Early climbers in Germany and Great Britain were passionate about this sport and set remarkable standards of rock climbing. By the 1920’s, rock climbing started gaining a foothold in the United States.
Aid climbing and free climbing are two traditional climbing methods. Aid climbing involves the use of climbing equipment whereas free climbing depends only on the ability, skill, and physical strength of the climber. During the early days, free climbing was the only method of rock climbing. Early explorers used climbing equipment only if they were unable to advance even beyond a hard move.
During the mid-1960’s, American climbers found that the piton used in aid climbing considerably damaged the rocks. This led to the invention of slinging machine nuts, an alternative for the piton. The tradition of combining the free and aid methods began in the early 1980’s in France. This combination method minimized the level of difficulty for the climbers, thus improving their style of climbing.
The United States was the leader in rock climbing throughout the ’60s and ’70s, with a number of dedicated climbers working to improve the climbing techniques. Rock climbing was declared as a sport only recently. Compared to traditional rock climbing, this sport makes use of the most advanced rock climbing equipment today. With growing interest in the sport, climbers chose to do harder free routes and harder individual moves. In the 1980s, the trend was to undertake short but difficult climbs. Development of climbing as a sport resulted in the invention of new safety gear to ensure the safety of the climbers. With the introduction of indoor walls, rock climbing techniques can now be practiced without venturing into the hostile terrain outside.