Morgan McNorrill, Contributing Writer
Sports interests at North Greenville are not confined to athletes or the fields they play on. Seth King, a second semester freshman student, plays his game on a rock wall .
While not a traditional sport, Kings says that rock climbing still provides the mental and physical trials that a sports team faces when entering the field. Because of the younger generation’s interest in the sport, it has been taken to the Olympic level.
In 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved new games for Tokyo 2020. Sport climbing was one of them. The committee hopes that this addition will cater the Games to more young people.
King parallels his experience with learning to climb with the training and coaching of a traditional sport. “I see indoor climbing as a training to get to outdoor climbing,” said King, “My former roommate helped develop my knowledge of climbing. He taught me… and took me climbing.”
After being introduced to the sport, King continued to further his knowledge during his employment at a summer camp.
At an outdoor training course for the camp, King met two of the instructors. Both were veteran climbers of 40 years. Their love of climbing was inspirational to King’s own efforts.
King participates in three general styles of climbing: bouldering, top rope and sport. While sharing the same objective of moving from point A to point B, these styles of climbing differ in practice.
Bouldering receives its name from the natural rock structure of a boulder. It is done without a harness or rope so it is limited to shorter climbs. It requires great skill and technique to stay on the wall.
In top rope climbing, one end of a rope attaches to the climber’s harness. The opposite end feeds through the top of the route and back down to an anchor. The system is permanently in the ground and connected by short rope to the belayer.
As the climber proceeds up the route, the belayer takes slack out of their end of the rope. This ensures a short fall distance if the climber were to slip.
Sport climbing will debut in the 2020 Tokyo games. Like top rope climbing, it also incorporates a belay system. The risk factor arrives in sport climbing because it is up to the climber to “clip in” to anchors while approaching the top.
King mainly participates in bouldering and top rope climbing because of their convenience and availability in most gyms. However, he likes sport climbing the most.
King enjoys the gamble it requires. “[Sport climbing] gets my adrenaline going,” King shared, “[it] causes me to focus due to the risk of bigger falls.”
The pure mental focus in a challenging climb keeps King coming back to the sport. He compares being on the wall to conquering a big obstacle. King explains, “It is entirely up to you to figure out the sequence and make it to the top.”
So whether the is game played on a field or up a rock wall, King believes that all athletes share in the fact that each has goals and obstacle that are not easy to conquer.