Speed climbing is a climbing discipline in which speed is the ultimate goal. Speed climbing is done on rocks, walls and poles and is only recommended for highly skilled and experienced climbers. Some experts linked this activity to horizontal level walking and running wherein the higher the velocity, the shorter is the contact time and the higher are the reaction forces.
Competition speed climbing, which takes place on an artificial standardized climbing wall, is the main form of speed climbing, however, there are other variations of speed climbing which take place outdoors. In pure speed climbing, time is everything but it is also common to record speed ascents while observing a particular climbing style or ethic. For example, there are many speed records in which the climb was done according to free climbing ethics. In popular culture speed climbing may be best known for a viral video featuring Dan Osman climbing Lover's Leap via the Bear's Reach route (5.7, 400+ feet) in 4 min 25 sec. This clip was originally featured in the movie Masters of Stone IV.
Competition speed climbing
Competition speed climbing as governed by the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) takes place on 15m artificial walls. Competitors climb a 5 degree overhanging IFSC certified wall, with an auto-belaying system from the top of the wall. Since 2007 the IFSC has created a standard wall for the world record. The standard has a simple rule and it involves climbers competing on the same route, side by side, and whoever reaches the top first wins. The holds and order are always identical, and the difficulty rating is around F6b (approximately YDS 5.10c), which is a level most recreational climbers could complete. The IFSC also sanctions speed climbing competitions and those events that entail world record attempts. Speed climbing competitions is one of the three climbing modalities that will be included in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Time is determined by mechanical-electric timing (the competitor leaves the starting pad and strikes a switch at the top of the route). When mechanical-electric timing is used, the climbing time is displayed with an accuracy of one hundredth of a second. In the rules modification in 2018, the possibility to use manual timing was removed, and the mechanical-electric timing should record with a precision of 1/1000 second. This precision is only used for ranking in case of a tie. Further, the timing system needs to announce a false start, which is considered a start earlier than 0.1 seconds after the starting beep.
Standardized Speed Climbing Wall
For such competitions, the speed climbing wall has been normed by the IFSC in a way that records are comparable.
Hitting a button at the top of the wall stops the timer. The climber is secured by an auto-belay device.
Speed Climbing World Records and Champions
The standard wall used is 15 meters tall.
As of 04/28/17, Iranian climber Reza Alipour Shenazandifar holds the men's 15 meter speed world record; 5.48 seconds.
2018 Speed climbing World Champions are Reza Alipour from Iran (5.63 seconds) and Aleksandra Rudzinska from Poland (7.56 seconds). The IFSC Climbing World Championships took place in Innsbruck, Austria.
|April 30, 2017||5.48||Reza Alipour||Nanjing, China||World Cup|
|September 12, 2014||5.60||Danyil Boldyrev||Gijon, Spain||World Championships|
|August 31, 2014||5.73||Libor Hroza||Arco, Italy||World Cup|
|August 30, 2014||5.76||Libor Hroza||Arco, Italy||World Cup|
|October 13, 2012||5.88||Evgenii Vaitcekhovskii||Xining, China||World Cup|
|August 27, 2011||6.26||Qixin Zhong||Arco, Italy||World Championships|
|November 21, 2020||6.964||Yulia Kaplina||Moscow, Russia||European Championships|
|October 19, 2019||6.995||Aries Susanti Rahayu||Xiamen, China||World Cup|
|April 26, 2019||7.101||YiLing Song||Chongqing, China||World Cup|
|April 22, 2018||7.32||Anouck Jaubert||Moscow, Russia||World Cup|
|July 22, 2017||7.32||Yulia Kaplina||Wroclaw, Poland||World Games|
|April 30, 2017||7.38||Yulia Kaplina||Nanjing, China||World Cup|
|April 23, 2017||7.46||Yulia Kaplina||Chongqing, China||World Cup|
|July 11, 2015||7.53||Yulia Kaplina||Chamonix, France||World Cup|
|June 21, 2015||7.56||Yulia Kaplina||Chongqing, China||World Cup|
|May 17, 2015||7.74||Yulia Kaplina||Central Saanich, Canada||World Cup|
|October 19, 2013||7.85||Yulia Kaplina||Wujiang, China||World Cup|
Outdoor Speed Climbing
Pure speed climbing
Full speed climbing is done in such a way that maximizes speed and minimizes danger. When climbing with a partner the climbers will alternate between regular free climbing, simul climbing, aiding, and at times sections of roped soloing. Speed climbing can also be done by an individual in which they alternate between forms of rope soloing, aiding, and free soloing. Strictly speaking, this type of speed climbing is not a style but a combination or perhaps a type of aid climbing. However, the complexity of combining all the styles together leads to what can be recognized as a separate style with its own particular techniques used in no other style.
Speed climbing offers a number of benefits and these include the opportunities to stress-proof learned climbing techniques and to learn more about pacing. Pacing is important since a broad array of paces contributes to the climber's versatility to navigate crags and rock types. A faster pace for most climbers is said to be less strenuous than climbing at their normal speed.
Records can be recorded while climbing in a particular style. Each of the methods ultimately handicap the rate of progress with the exception of free soloing.
The simplest way to increase the speed of climbing is to shed all safety precautions such as belaying and placing protection. For some climbers, this is the same as replacing the strength of the rope and the safety gears with mental toughness. This leads to free soloing as rapidly as possible. While strictly speaking this qualifies as full speed climbing or a type of style climbing it is different enough to be recognized as its own category of speed climbing.
Most speed climbing records lack the standards normally associated with objective records. Hans Florine has written "I will be the first to say that climbing is silly. To make rules about it is just piling ridiculous on top of silly." There are no sanctioned speed climbing competitions on significant rock features. Nearly all climbing goals and records are self-designed, self-timed, and self-officiated; few are well documented, and many are disputed.
The collection that follows abides by these loose standards.
The time format below is either hrs:min or hrs:min:sec.
- 1:58:07 Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell June 2018.
- 2:10:15 Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell May 2018.
- 2:19:44 Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds October 2017.
- 12:15 Heidi Wertz and Wera Shulte-Pelcum 2004 (all female ascent).
- 11:41 Hans Florine solo. July 2005.
- 11:00 Tommy Caldwell 2005 (free ascent male).
- 23:46 Lynn Hill 1994 (free ascent).
Regular Northwest Route, Half Dome
- 1:53:25 Jim Herson and Hans Florine 1999.
- 5:25 Heidi Wertz and Wera Shulte-Pelcum 2004 (all female ascent).
- 3:58 Hans Florine solo 1999 (Full day also included El Cap).
Snake Dike, Half Dome
- 3:00 Dean Potter 1998 (car to car).
- 280 Routes in a day Michael Reardon solo 2004.
- 10 climbs 100 feet tall 45 minutes free solo, Dennis George
- 600 feet car to summit with a steep approach of half mile Idyllwild, CA
- 10,000 feet in 24 hours Joshua Tree, CA climb for breast cancer
- 00:05:33 Mic Fairchild solo 1998.
- 36:27 Bill Briggs solo 1989 (car to car).
- 2:35 David Laxton solo 2013.
- 50 Routes 13:30 Peter Darmi solo 2004.
- 46 Routes 13:30 Eric Weigeshoff and Peter Darmi 2004. 3400' of climbing and descent.
- 51 Routes 13:30 Eric Weigeshoff and Peter Darmi 2006 3400' of climbing and descent.
- 6:40 Rolando Garibotti solo 2000.
- Climbing styles
- Rock climbing
- Climbing competition
- International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC)
- USA Climbing
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- Dan Osman- Lover's Leap
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- Stadsvold, Jenna (2017-06-08). "What is Speed Climbing? The Basics You Need to Know". Head Rush Tech Blog. Retrieved 2018-08-03.
- IFSC Rules modification 2018 V1.5, April 2018
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- International Federation of Sport Climbing (2017-05-15), FSC Climbing World Cup Nanjing 2017 - New Speed World Records, retrieved 2018-07-06
- Jan Kříž (2014-09-13), NEW World speed climbing record - 5.60 seconds! WCH Gijon 2014, retrieved 2017-05-22
- International Federation of Sport Climbing (2014-09-01), IFSC Climbing World Cup Arco 2014 - Speed - Hroza Breaks World Record, retrieved 2017-05-22
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- Goddard, Dale; Neumann, Udo (1993). Performance Rock Climbing. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. pp. 48. ISBN 0811722198.
- Fuss, Franz Konstantin; Subic, Aleksandar; Strangwood, Martin; Mehta, Ranbindra (2013). Routledge Handbook of Sports Technology and Engineering. Oxon: Routledge. p. 277. ISBN 9780415580458.
- Speed Climbing!: How to Climb Faster and Better 2nd edition, By Hans Florine, Bill Wright Published by Globe Pequot, 2004, ISBN 0-7627-3095-1, 978-0-7627-3095-7