Well as you all probably know by now the IFSC failed in their bid to get sport climbing into the Olympic Games.
A lot of our customers signed the petition and showed support for the bid, however I know that there are many who feel that climbing as an Olympic sport would ruin climbing and that it is a good thing that it did not get in.
I thought I would put my musings down for you and show my perspective as a trad climber/mountaineer and climbing wall owner. These are my thoughts and not the ideas or beliefs of Dart Rock or its staff.
Climbing is a sport I love; it has taken me to places a boy from the West Country would never have got to. I have met amazing people and been involved in some exciting and outrageous first ascents around the world. Although not climbing the hardest I have always climbed to my limit and had an eye for a line. As I have been climbing since the early 80’s I have seen climbing change and develop over time from a minority slightly weird activity to mainstream. Climbing walls have sprung up around the country and now auto belay fun parks are becoming the norm, enabling people to at least sort of experience the sport in a non threatening manner.
Paula and I opened Dart Rock to support the climbing community in the South West, a community that I have been part of for the majority of my life. I wanted to give something back to climbing and create a strong community, not for the money (our wall makes enough to pay our staff and make small improvements), if it was up to me I would let everyone in for free!
Unfortunately we can’t let everyone in for free, we charge as little as we can to stay open, nothing more.
I feel that although I am not a competition climber myself, competition has for a long time been part of climbing and that it has been a positive thing for the sport. From improved equipment, more and better climbing walls, better training facilities, a higher profile allowing access agreements and funding to climbers becoming stronger, fitter and more dedicated, it has pushed climbing standards and opened up more possibilities.
With climbing in the Olympics I feel that the benefits would be passed onto the weekend climber, cheaper wall access, more crags to climb on, and more money available for bolts, equipment and training facilities.
Climbing is changing, it has been changing for many years, trad routes are now bolted, bolted routes are worked to death, and climbing walls make us all stronger so that more people can climb hard. Gone are the days when Ansteys cove was the quiet backwater or Torbryan Quarry had luscious ferns at the bottom and you would never see anyone even after multiple visits to clean a new line or lap routes for training.
If it’s going to change it’s a shame that it can’t change to help the fantastic athletes who train hard and enjoy our sport, probably just as much as I do......
Robbie Warke climber, mountaineer, caver, diver, climbing wall owner