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Sport climbing facts for kids

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Sport climbing
Country or region Worldwide
Olympic Will debut in 2020

Sport climbing is a form of rock climbing that may rely on permanent anchors fixed to the rock for protection, in which a rope that is attached to the climber is clipped into the anchors to arrest a fall, or that involves climbing short distances with a crash pad underneath as protection. This is in contrast to traditional climbing where climbers must place removable protection as they climb. Sport climbing usually involves lead climbing and toproping techniques, but free solo and deep-water solo (no protection) climbing on sport routes is also sometimes possible.

Sport climbing emphasises strength, endurance, gymnastic ability and technique.

With increased accessibility to climbing walls, and gyms, more climbers now enter the sport through indoor climbing than outdoor climbing. The transition from indoor climbing to outdoor sport climbing is not very difficult because the techniques and equipment used for indoor climbing are nearly sufficient for outdoor sport climbing. Nevertheless, climbing on natural rock often poses a greater challenge as bolts may be placed at greater distances and other risk factors such as rockfall, the possibility of falling onto ledges and other rock features, as well as the quality of bolts and anchors must be taken into consideration.

While sport climbing is common in many areas worldwide, it is heavily restricted in some places where it is considered ethically unacceptable to bolt climbs. This is largely due to the local climbing traditions, and to the type of rock; for instance, it is often considered reasonable to bolt limestone or slate quarries in the UK, especially if these are otherwise unprotectable, but it is considered completely unacceptable to bolt gritstone regardless as to how dangerous a climbing route might be. Debates over bolting in the climbing communities are often fierce. Bolting without a consensus in favour of bolting generally leads to the destruction, or removal, of the bolts by activists against bolting.

Since sport climbing routes do not need to follow climbing routes where protection can be placed they tend to follow more direct, and straight forward, lines up crags than traditional climbing routes which can be winding and devious by comparison. This, in addition to the need to place gear, tends to result in different styles of climbing between sport and traditional.

Sport climbing was scheduled to make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, and was previously tested at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics.

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