Lead is the historical and traditional climbing discipline. It is the expression of climbing most commonly perceived by the public and a popular event among climbers and non-climbers. Lead events have also the most universal representation and is the discipline that a majority of our national federations indicated as their favorite. Lead brings athletes beyond vertical in a continuous gravity challenge, and TV experts pointed out they need the height challenge.
I would actually argue that the most common expression of climbing “perceived by the public” is speed climbing1, which is exactly why it is important that speed climbing not be the discipline of climbing that heralds the sport’s return to the Olympics. Speed climbing is ok in the context of larger climbing competitions, but to reinforce to a global audience the incorrect notion that speed climbing is actually something any climber does would be a mistake in my opinion.
Remember kids: speed climbing is neither.
- Although Alex Honnold may be pushing free soloing into the lead with the attentions he’s been getting of late ↩