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Sport Climbing – what is it all about?

Sport Climbing – what is it all about?

Sport Climbing makes its Olympic debut at Tokyo in 2020, with athletes winning gold thanks to the power and strength in their fingertips.

“Climbing is one of the basic human movements, we climb before we’re able to stand up and walk. Climbing is an instinct” – Marco Maria Scolaris, IFSC President

Sport Climbing takes the challenge of scaling steep ascents to a whole new level. Climbers use brightly-coloured hand, finger and foot holds, their climbing skills and all the strength their bodies can muster to work their way up a near-vertical wall. Sport Climbing gyms and venues can be found in over 150 countries, and New Zealand is one of those.

There are three disciplines in sport climbing and climbers tend to find which best suits their personalities.

  • Speed climbing pits two climbers against each other, both climbing a fixed route on a 15-metre wall.
  • Bouldering is where climbers scale a number of fixed routes on a 4m wall in a specified time.
  • In lead climbing, athletes attempt to climb as high as possible on a wall measuring over 15m in height within a fixed time.

At the Olympics, each climber will compete in all three disciplines and their combined results make up their final ranking.

Sport Climbing has taken off in the last two decades, and globally has millions of people taking part regularly, both indoors and outdoors. This is according to the sport’s governing  body, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC). Climbing New Zealand is our local national body set up to facilitate and develop Sport Climbing, and is a member of IFSC.

For those who just want to give it a go, or keep the kids busy, try these places:

Extreme Edge, Hamilton
YMCA Wall, New Plymouth
Ferg’s Wellington
Extreme Edge Panmure
Extreme Edge, Glen Eden
Roctopia, Tauranga
The Wall, Rotorua
Hangdog, Lower Hutt

YMCA Christchurch 
Uprising Christchurch
Basecamp Adventures, Wanaka


Tokyo 2020 Sport Climbing 
International Federation of Sport Climbing