Aesthetic Exploration: Rock Climbing

Climbing has been around for hundreds of years. Maybe it wasn’t always done for entertainment and pleasure but more for necessity. Climbing rocks were first recorded in Chinese paintings around 200 BC. It became necessary for exploration through tall mountains starting in the 19th century and because a leisure sport starting in the fifties in the US! Since then it has exploded around the world. The world leaders in the sport make moves that seem humanly impossible. The following video shows some amazing footage of rock climbing.

In the words of the amazing Lynn Hill, climbing is a moving meditation. It really is like yoga, you have to be conscious of where every part of your body is at all times, focus on your breathing, have great balance, and hand eye coordination. When all of these things come together you can see some strength and movement that seems inhuman.

Photo by: Kilian Fischhuber

For me, seeing these climbing photos is extremely motivating to go and train harder to be able to complete harder moves which opens up new routes of different difficulties!

Photo by: David Clifford

Another aesthetic of rock climbing is the beautiful places in the world that it can take you. There is climbing all over the world (even in Kansas). THis particular photo is one of my favorites. The climber is deep water soloing which is where it is only you and the rock, your protection is the water beneath you. This is truly free climbing, there is nothing to distract you it is just you and the rock. Makes great pictures as well.



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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Preston Marcoux
    January 30, 2017 9:03 am

    I think your writing does a great job in showing your audience you obviously care and have a great respect for climbing as a sport. As an aesthetic I thought it was really interesting to learn about the aesthetic of the “different places around the world.” It took me a couple minutes to really understand the meaning of this aesthetic, but after looking through your pictures I think it makes a great aesthetic for this sport. Great work.

  • This is definitely a unique interpretation of a physical activity or sport as an aesthetic, but I agree. I have even thought if it as yoga on a wall, as you suggest, and that definitely contains an aesthetic, especially now as rock climbing is rarely used to accomplish the goal of getting to somewhere new or exploring a new area. It is mostly to realize a personal accomplishment, a sensory achievement, and for those watching at competitions or in the wild there is unmistakable aesthetic pleasure to witness a bold move or a feat of strength. I would be curious to learn, however, more about the posture, balance, and grips required for climbing. I’m also not sure that the appeal of the outdoors should be addressed in the same subject, as it applies to a wide variety of activities and can be examined on its own in almost unending detail. It’s valid for sure, I’m just not convinced this is the right place to open that can, so to speak. Good luck training!

    • I would also be intrigued to learn a bit more about the almost-hippie-inspired “dirtbag” aesthetic within the climbing community… perhaps an examination of the boulderer beanie, the knitted chalk bags, the striped A-shirts, etc. could be looked at in place of the “beautiful places” perspective, as that content is a bit more specialized to climbing instead of just being outdoors.


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