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Almost touching the sky: Free Climbing - Part 3

Umberto Silvestri ends this series of articles with a quick comparison between mountaineering and sport climbing.

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Free Climbing

The fundamental difference between ”sport climbing” and mountaineering consists above all in the fact that the mountaineering aim is reaching the peak, the top of the mountain. In mountain climbing the difficulties in getting the top can be many, of various type, and unforeseen: they range from the physical-environmental and weather conditions to the altitude, to the presence of snow and ice, the exposure to the elements and to the changes in the weather, and, finally, to the distance from the inhabited areas, the effort duration, the height differences, the air rarefaction. 

All this demands an adequate level of fitness, but also a serious knowledge of the mountain environment and an effort programming, as the physical strain is lasting and aerobic.

Palestra di arrampicata
Palestra di arrampicata

All these adverse conditions are lessened or totally absent in “free climbing”, where, instead, the technical and physical training has to be brought to the highest level. In free climbing the systematic training, especially in climbing wall, plays a key role: both strength endurance and strength maximum are required, especially in the upper extremities; even studying the physical dynamics of the human body, and the techniques to afford some strong difficulties (overhanging walls, lacking in handholds and footholds..).

The goal of free climbing is not the top of a mountain, but the most difficult, the most technically complex and athletically nice route to reach a point.

Mountaineering and free climbing have two different perspectives. Thus today we can say that they are two different disciplines, maybe still complementary, but destined to definitely separate.


Chris Sharma
Chris Sharma
Dal Web

Two sons born from the same mother/father/passion for discovery, for knowledge and adventure, but that have found their own "way" to face the future, which will be long and, in all likelihood, plenty of surprises.

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