Is rock climbing an ongoing strive for meaning from the moment the human being reaches the ability to think or is it something to try to find the limits of his/her physical and spiritual limits? We may not see that this sport gives the answers to such philosophical questions. However, it is clear that rock climbing contains the most basic human instincts. Solutions developed for survival by human beings, combat and fear are instincts that become active during rock climbing. This is why, climbing gives humans an incredible spiritual power and satisfaction for survival.
Nowadays, as a result of the evolution of business or social life, people spend most of their lives indoors and in their offices. Today’s people, who sit for hours in front of a computer and are only able to see the green with their digital tones on the screens, and hardly reaching even the simple need of being alone in big cities, have been longing such a natural life that they cannot have. Nature tours, artificial greens in shopping malls, foods that are claimed to be organic should probably be a reflection of this longing. Besides, the pressure of indoor environments and city life increases the interest in outdoor sports. Rock climbing is a sports branch where you can literally touch nature and satisfy this longing.
What Is Rock Climbing?
In the simplest terms, Rock climbing can be defined as the climbing action on the rock surfaces. If we wish to define rock climbing technically, then we need more detailed sentences. Rock climbing is a sports branch containing different disciplines with itself. When we use the simplest classification criteria, we come across the disciplines of sport climbing, traditional climbing, and short rock climbing. Sport climbing can be defined as the use of pre-prepared safety-points and climbing with the assistance of ropes, to which the climber is attached so that the climber is elevated. In traditional climbing; however, the climber himself/herself determines the safety points all alone. Climbing the rocks at a height where falling is not a problem when climbing the short shore, and there is only a crash pad as a safety precaution. Sport climbing and short rock climbing are a bit safer than traditional climbing. A person who wants to climb traditionally should have more endeavors and technical knowledge than other disciplines.
Is It Dangerous?
Rock climbing is a very safe sports branch when the right techniques are correctly used. Falling is the nature of rock climbing, and fear of falling is an undesirable event for many athletes. However, theoretically, when everything is done correctly, the fallings does not pose dangers. However, since it is not always possible to ensure 100% of control for external factors, it cannot be said that falling is not always dangerous. Therefore, even athletes who make rock climbing for many years are afraid of falling. However, climbing with this fear and dominating it forms the basic philosophy of this sports branch. The majority of people who start rock climbing do not enjoy the climb much because of fear of falling and height. With the attempt of taking these fears under control and adopting the climbing techniques to your body, you start feeling the main beauty of the rock climbing itself.
Safety in rock climbing is directly related to the technical approaches applied. Therefore, it is vitally important that the people who will perform this sport should receive correct and effective training and mastery of safety techniques in rock climbing.
Who Can Do It?
From an external perspective; although it may seem to be an expensive and difficult sports branch with lots of adrenaline and physically demanding, rock climbing does not appeal to a particular audience. Climbing is a sport that almost everyone can try and do because of the different disciplines and various degrees of difficulty and ease. The basic requirement for doing this sport is the right training and materials used. It is suitable for everyone to climb that can perform normal physical functions. However, since some of the body types are very suitable for climbing, it is possible for them to climb at advanced levels of difficulty. Regular fitness training and as well as body fitness are the main requirement of advanced rock climbing. Everybody type being able to perform normal physical functions means that it is suitable for climbing. However, since some of the body types are highly suitable for climbing, they can do the advanced level of rock climbing. Besides the suitability of a body, regular and effective training are the main requirements of an advanced rock climbing.
In summary, anyone who does not have a serious physical disability regardless of age, sex, weight or height can do rock-climbing sport according to their level of skills.
What Equipment Is Needed?
As it is the case in many sports, some equipment is required for rock climbing. For a sport climbing, materials such as rope, express, safety belt, safety device, helmet, rock climbing shoes, and a dust bag are the basic needs. In addition to traditional climbing, wedges, spring wedges, coins as well as safety equipment are also required. In the case of short rock climbing, a crash pad with rock climbing shoes and a dust bag will suffice. Just to reiterate, what more important than all equipment is quality climbing training. It is important to remember that all these safety materials will only be safe to the extent that they are used with the right information.
How Is It Done?
There may be two different options to consider for rock climbing. By training, you may climb in rock climbing gardens by yourself with your materials and partner. This is the way you need to spend a little more labor, time and money, and, of course, you will receive at the same rate of reward you deserve. The second option; however, is to get professional service from a place where you can do rock climbing. These services, which are increasing day by day in our country, can be reached through a small info search. However, people need to be sure of their competence. Indeed, it will be much healthier and long-termed for people who are interested in rock climbing to practice this sport individually with proper training.
In Turkey, the mountaineering clubs of universities provide free and high-quality education opportunities, voluntarily. Especially, the clubs of universities such as YTU, METU, ITU, and Hacettepe are leading the way in this field thanks to their rooted histories and backgrounds.
Rock Climbing Around The World
Rock climbing has been a popular sport throughout history, especially in the geography where the rocks are dense. However, nowadays, with the increase in communication, transportation and logistics opportunities, this sport can reach a much larger mass regardless of geography. In addition, the rapid increase in the number of halls with artificial climbing walls makes the climbing possible regardless of season and weather conditions. The fact that the climbing sport becomes a new branch in the Olympics by the year 2020 will undoubtedly make the rock-climbing sport more popular.
In America, Europe, and the Far East countries, climbing is also interested in people who are not even involved in climbing, and its popularity increases day by day. The increasing popularity of climbing brings along physical development. The knowledge gained by years of experience is blended with scientific approaches and the limits of the human body are challenged so that almost impossible climbing activities have emerged. As these climbs are transferred to the masses using the power of media, the popularity of climbing has increased. The simplest example of this beneficial relationship is the documentary Free Solo, which was released in 2018. The documentary film about American climber Alex Honnold’s free solo * climb in 2017 won the Oscar Award for Best Documentary and made a worldwide hit. As the climbing, which is the subject of the documentary, is a psychological challenge and as well as physical difficulty.
What Kind Of Benefits Does The Rock Climbing Provide?
It would not be right to consider climbing only as a hobby of spending some pleasant time. Many people have placed this sport at the center of their lives even though they have no profession. Of course, the gains that rock-climbing provides to the athlete is one of the reasons for this situation. Like other sports, rock climbing also keeps the human body physically fit. However, the most important benefit of climbing, which is not available in other sports, is psychological gains. Fight against fear, patience, focus, psychological resistance are important human abilities that develop with climbing and make significant contributions to daily life outside sports. In addition to these, achievements such as discipline, motivation to focus on a target, planning ability, and regular training are other factors that bring the interested athletes in rock climbing closer to this sport.
Rock Climbing and Mountaineering
Mountaineering and rock climbing are different disciplines contrary to the general belief. Although rock climbing is the core of technical mountaineering, it cannot be classified as mountaineering by itself. Mountaineering is a versatile sport with more than one component that can be mentioned in its philosophy, while rock climbing is a sport performed by the physical effort.
A Voluntary Initiative Effort Dedicated To Climbing
The initiative is an autonomous a voluntary effort that is dedicated to the climbing sport and is ready to contribute to the development of this sport in our country. The activities mainly focused on climbing sport. They aim to capture the current climbing activities from all over the world, especially in our country, to the extent that it matters for us and share it with readers.
The Starting Age Determines The Limits Of The Sport
Especially in Europe and America, climbing is a much more popular sport than in our country, so families motivate their children to do this sport from an early age. Children who start rock climbing at the age of 5 – 6 years old reach the limits of the sport to the points that challenge the human mind. Since the socio – economic structure of our country does not allow this sport much to be done; unfortunately, it is not possible to practice it at an early age and develop in Turkey.
Yildiz Technical University Mountaineering Club (YTUDAK)
A student club founded in the 1980s and transferred the mountaineering discipline to its members through systematic training; the YTUDAK has aimed to transfer its extensive mountaineering training to its members with its background and increasing experiences since it has been established.
Where Can It Be Done?
There are many climbing gardens in Turkey’s various regions. Climbing areas in Geyikbayırı, Çitdibi and Muğla Datça in Antalya have a worldwide reputation and are quite large. Every year, dozens of climbers come from all over the world and do climbing sport in these regions. Especially, Geyikbayırı is a region preferred by foreign climbers because it provides a climbing opportunity in winter. For the summer months; however, the Kazıklıali Canyon in Aladağlar is the tailor-made region for climbing.
The documentary “Free Solo”, the subject of which is Alex Honnold’s climbing to El Capitan Rock which is 3000 ft. (914.4 mts) high without any security equipment or rope, is a legendary production addressing how humans challenge the nature conditions beyond being a mountaineering praise.
By: Şükrü Sarı / Photo: Eren Görenoğlu
*This article was published in the November-December issue of Marmara Life