For Climbing’s Indoor Champions, Will The Great Outdoors Become Irrelevant?

Interesting question raised by Chris Weidner in his column for Boulder’s Daily Camera with regard to the possibility of someone winning a comp like ABS Nationals without climbing outside much if at all:

But as the strongest competitors specialize on indoor training walls, will rock climbing itself —that is, climbing rocks — become obsolete for competition climbers?

At some point I think this is certainly possible, especially as gyms continue to grow and comp problems continue to diverge from anything resembling “real” rock climbs1.  However, in the near term I find this prospect unlikely as rising stars like Mirko Caballero and Ashima Shiraishi — both of whom are years away from being old enough to compete in ABS Nationals — already have impressive ticklists years before they will even be able to drive a car.

Another factor is that especially here in the U.S., competitions do not hold the same weight for the public and sponsors as do outdoor exploits.  That may change, but until that time it doesn’t seem like the incentives to focus solely on indoor climbing and competitions at a professional level is really there2.

It is worth noting also that Daniel Woods won this year’s ABS Nationals despite not having climbed in a gym at all in the months leading up to the event.  Then again, when you’ve won 7 times previously as Woods had, maybe you don’t need as much practice?

  1.  See:  jump starts, committing sideways jumps, downward moving finishes and the like being part of the problem mix at both adult and youth ABS Nationals the past couple of weekends
  2.  Although it seems to be getting there sooner for female climbers than male climbers, but that is a topic for a different post

Posted In: American Bouldering Series, Asides

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