Unlike any other sport, Rock Climbing presents challenges to both our physical and mental abilities. It’s an extraordinary test of one’s strength, endurance, agility, balance, and mental control. In order for climbers to reach the summit of their ascensions safely, they must study and train to use proper climbing techniques as well as proper climbing equipment.
Chinese paintings from a little over 2000 years ago depict men climbing a mountain. And cliff-dwelling Anasazi natives in 12th Century America are thought to have been excellent climbers. Early European climbers used rock climbing techniques as a skill required to reach the summit in their mountaineering exploits. But by the 1850s, climbing mountains was transforming from a necessity in travel into a distinct athletic activity!
This is where we meet the hero of our story: an avid climber named John Ball. He’s known for popularizing the Dolomites, a mountain range found in northeastern Italy. Throughout his research of the mountain range and his experiences climbing the mountains there, John founded the Alpine Club and became the first club president in 1857. He was joined by many other climbers who made their first ascents with his guidance.
Among many other accomplishments, John was the first in 1857 to climb a major Dolomites peak (Monte Pelmo). He also traveled in Morocco and South America later on in life and the recorded observations he made throughout his pursuits were published in scientific periodicals.
Not only famous for his Alpine club, John also published in the later 1860s his well-respected work of the Alpine guide book—a result of countless climbs and journeys that produced careful observation that was recorded in clear (and typically entertaining) style.
Since John’s days, Rock Climbing has only become recognized more so as a legitimate sport. In 2016, the International Olympic Committee made a formal announcement that Rock Climbing would be a medal sport in the next summer Olympics (which ended only a few weeks ago). Enjoy your climbing escapades in the future and, as always thanks for reading!