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Sport Climbing

Sport climbing is one discipline of rock climbing that is focused on single pitch climbs at maximized difficulties. Sport climbing routes are typically protected by bolts-only that are drilled into the rock. Using bolts combined with short climbs makes sport climbing less committing and more predictable than other styles of climbing such as mountaineering, trad-climbing or Big Wall climbing.
Generally speaking, almost any climb that only uses bolts can be classified as a sport climb nowadays. The origin of sport climbing traces back to France where in the 70’s, climber’s started bolting rock faces that otherwise were unable to be protected. Worldwide, it was followed by a huge wave of new development in the 80’s when climbers seemingly bolted everything that had not been possible to climb via traditional gear. This style of development sparked a huge ethical debate about the rules on how to establish new climbs. Power drilling and fixing bolts while rappelling was often doomed to be a style that takes away from the boldness and adventurous aspects of rock climbing. Opponents of this style did not accept rappel bolting as they would only place bolts while being on lead (ground up bolting) and only where there is no other option available.
There has been a lot of drama around using bolts and many routes have been chopped, re-bolted and chopped again as a result of disagreeing climbing ethics.
For a reflective overview of the debate refer to Christian Griffith’s October 1986 Climbing perspective “Manifesto”, in which a wizened old climber writes,
…”The slaughter of the last bastions of traditionalism has begun…. Like a bull crashing in the hands of its tormentors through the walls of the arena, a new generation shakes its horns and parts the crowd. They are free. They are the new power that will decide whatt direction climbing should go” – He had earlier established Colorado’s first rappel-bolted sport climb, the 5.13a Paris Girl in Eldorado Canyon.
Today bolting is widely accepted and often permits are required depending on where routes are planned to be bolted. Often, each climbing area has it’s own ethics and regulations. Joshua Tree and Yosemite are great examples for places where traditional climbing ethics have widely been protected and practiced. Bolts are only placed where no other gear is possible, including anchors.
However, at many other areas there are often no second thoughts on the correctness of bolting a route on rappel. Sport climbing is part of the evolution of free-climbing and has consistently pushed the limits of the possible.
To summarize, sport climbing is mainly characterized through:
  • bolts-only for protection
  • short climbs (mostly up to 100 feet +/-)
  • climbing at physical limit (often! but not necessary, there are also “easy” sport climbs)
  • well-protected with often minimized accident potential (climbing still is an inherently dangerous sport!)
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    Highly recommend Fabi! He is super organized, friendly and safe. He was on time, prepared with everything we needed, fully explained everything we needed to know and made sure we felt safe during every step. He’s super encouraging and really knows what he is doing!
    Anna T.
    What an amazing experience! We took the beginners class, and so happy we did, Fabi was very knowledgeable, breaking instructions down step by step making it easier and fun to learn! After learning all the important safety steps we got to climbing right away, with fabi right there giving us pointers on the best route to take. I left class feeling more confident in my abilities to climb. Fabi has such a chill, friendly, and encouraging way of teaching, it felt like we were learning with a friend. I highly reccomend. Thank you for sharing your knowledge Fabi!
    Kailyn F.
    Had such an incredible time doing my first trad rock climbing multi pitch! Coach Jakob was extremely professional and taught my friend and I so much. We went up over 2,000 feet and got to the top of a stunning mountain in Idyllwild. He was informative and we felt completely safe the entire time. It was a fun and beautiful adventure. We would highly recommend Jakob and Chillino Rock Climbing Group for your upcoming adventures!
    Valerie H.
    My partner and I just finished an intro climbing class with Chillino and it was fantastic! Our guide was Fabi and he was knowledgeable, friendly, encouraging and always put safety first. A great introduction to outdoor climbing with an emphasis on learning basics the right way and having fun, whatever your skill level. We started with an overview of equipment, a short hike in Mission Hills and a thorough training on using the equipment. We had the chance to do several lines at our own pace. All were a good challenge! Overall, a great class and highly recommend 🙂
    Grace M.
    Absolutely incredible experience! I hardly have any experience as a climber and Fabian did a great job at showing me the basics and making sure I knew how to safely and adequately climb. There was plenty of time for me to get my hands dirty and the location was beautiful! The team that came along was very positive and encouraging! Would definitely recommend Fabian's climbing options!
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