On Jan. 14, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson summited Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park, California, after nearly three weeks of scaling 3,000 feet of vertical rock with their bare hands (and sleeping on it, too). ). Built over seven years of planning and failed attempts, the feat went down in rock climbing history and, in a first for a relatively niche, literally cutting-edge sport, made headlines around the world. .
Was this a sign that cliffs and carabiners were finally entering the mainstream or just another symptom of an internet age where everything from feminist firestorms to the color of a dress can go viral? Not everyone is willing to hang from ledges by their fingertips with only a rope to keep them from collapsing to earth thousands of feet below, and few have the ability to conquer anything. either, even remotely, like the Dawn Wall. But an increasing number of people are buying rock climbing, if only to climb the foothills of the sport rather than scale the peaks.
British mountain climbing “started out as a Victorian pursuit with Victorian gentlemen and the occasional lady heading out into the Alps and being guided up the mountains,” says Dave Turnball, chief executive of the British Mountaineering Council. At the turn of the 20th century, small groups of students were climbing cliffs in the Peak District and beyond with whatever ropes they could find, he says. However, it wasn’t until the late 1970s, when technology made a much wider range of rock faces safe to climb, that the sport really started to take off around the world.