Executive Summary Inclusive design will facilitate innovation in future climbing equipment. The aim of this literature review is to investigate how inclusive design might affect climbing equipment technology and whether this approach to research, development and innovation might lead to improved equipment that is more human centric and environmentally sensitive. This paper intends to investigate who is attracted to climbing and why they pursue the sport, what injuries are obtained from climbing, and what necessitates the need for climbing equipment innovations. These key areas of investigation are pertinent to my research because it will give valuable insight into what is required of future equipment development. Since rock climbing’s inception 120 years ago, rock climbing equipment has developed from simplistic tools to advanced scientifically tested equipment. Climbers use a plethora of equipment to reduce and minimise the chances of injury or death (belay devices replacing body belays) as well as increase the performance and standards of climbing (lightweight equipment reducing the overall weight carried by a climber). From the research conducted there have been reports of climbing equipment failure both in the outdoor environment and through controlled experiments conducted in laboratories. Most injuries occur through overuse and pertain to the fingers and elbows. Climbers’ feet also have higher rates of deformities due to the necessity of wearing tight fitting climbing shoes. There is an increase in injuries in indoor climbing venues. This is most likely due to the increase in participation rate through indoor gyms and the concentrated level of climbing without rest intrinsic to indoor climbing. Increasingly, younger people are participating in climbing due to the accessibility of climbing gyms and clubs. Most innovation occurs primarily from the needs of individual climbers, who innovate at a grass roots level. Currently climbing equipment innovation is driven by function, the need for equipment to be lighter and stronger. It is also driven by a need to improve performance, whether that be to climb a harder route or climb faster, and in the past it has been a response to protecting terrain that was previously unprotectable. LITERATURE REVIEW History of Climbing Rock climbing originated as a skill practice to train for short difficult sections of a longer alpine ascent. It has since progressed into many sub-disciplines such as traditional climbing, bouldering, solo climbing, aiding and ice climbing. The first paraplegic to ascend The Nose, a 3000 foot rock feature in Yosemite National Park, was Mark Wellman. He completed this climb in 1989 by effectively doing 1000 pull ups using his modified climbing equipment. The first disabled climber to ascend Mt Everest was Tom Whittaker in 1998, whose right foot had been amputated. Then in 2001 Erik Weihenmayer was the first blind climber to ascend Everest. Hugh Herr is currently an assistant professor at MIT studying and developing advanced prosthetics. He is a paraplegic who has developed prosthetics that have allowed him to climb terrain that he previously couldn’t. Ilich has written a research paper proposing a design for a climbing
wall that can be used by the visually impaired. The climbing wall uses a head set and sound emitting holds to help climbers navigate the terrain. Very little study has been conducted on the needs of climbers with disabilities, either paraplegic, amputees, visually impaired or hearing impaired. History of Climbing Rock climbing originated as a skill practice to train for short difficult sections of a longer alpine ascent. It has since progressed into many sub-disciplines such as traditional climbing, sport climbing, bouldering, solo climbing, aiding and ice climbing. In the 1970’s climbing consisted of aid climbing big walls. Pioneered by Royal Robbins et al. (reference First Ascent). They used aid gear such as pitons and etriers to ascend The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Then in the 1980’s, free climbing became popular. Climbers became aware that previous ascents using aid gear were damaging the rock. Yvon Chounaird invented Camelots, which are removable protection pieces placed by the leader and removed by the seconder. Lynn Hill was the first person to free The Nose in one day, a feat previously considered impossible. By the 1990’s sport climbing developed. Climbers were focused on climbing routes that previously were unprotectable by natural gear. Fixed bolts were inserted into the rock face and the sport turned its attention to climbs that were previously unclimbable. Now, in the 2000’s bouldering has become the popular activity. Climbers focus on the single hardest move without the clutter of placing gear or rope management or climbing partners. History of bouldering Bouldering is the ascension of rocks that are between two meters to six meters tall using only the climber’s hands and feet. The climber, also known as ‘a boulderer’, uses minimal equipment consisting of chalk, chalk bag, climbing shoes, brush and a bouldering mat (otherwise known as a crash pad/ mat). Secondary equipment consists of clothing and backpacks. In the beginning, bouldering was developed as a method to train strength and power for bigger sport or trad routes. Over the years, bouldering has developed into a separate sport and some athletes solely pursue this activity and at present bouldering has the highest beginner participation rate because the sport is easy to access and is an inexpensive sport to participate in. John Gill was a historic figure within the climbing world. He pioneered new training methods and was at the forefront of climbing achievements. He is synonymous with bouldering and was one of the major advocates of bouldering as a form of training for climbing.
Over the years, bouldering has developed its own subculture. The social aspect of bouldering, which is less prevalent in other forms of climbing, means that it has had a faster growing rate of participation*(prove this with stats). The lack of technical equipment and knowledge and inexpensiveness of the activity are the major reasons that draw people to this sport. The sport of bouldering is tending towards taller boulders (called highball problems), compromising the safety of the climber with every meter they climb. Climbers, in their pursuit for adventure are seeking out new bouldering areas in more remote regions of the earth. Which involves mini expeditions with provisions for food, water, sleeping and shelter. With these new directions in bouldering a new set of requirements are needed for the climberâ€™s equipment. Lighter more compact and portable crash mats are a primary necessity for exploring remote areas. Whilst crash mats with greater force distribution and dissipation is a necessity to further protect highball problems. New innovations in bouldering equipment are required to keep up with the needs of the next generation of climbers. Also, the increase in participation from younger climbers means that equipment needs tailoring to their needs. Rock climbing is considerably new and unstructured activity and still remains a sport that is considered to have levels of danger that are unacceptable to the general public. However, due to the development of indoor rock climbing facilities people are introduced to climbing through a more controlled environment. The increase in indoor facilities has allowed more people to access the physical and psychological benefits of the sport. Also, the development of sport climbing in the 1980â€™s has contributed to more people climbing outdoors. However, in recent years bouldering has been the main source for increased participation rates. In the past, the sport has been dominated by Caucasian males aged 18 -26 years. However, there has been a steady increase in female participation. Young climbers are becoming more prevalent and, like gymnastics, their body size and weight is ideal for the sport. There is also an aging population of climbers who remain with the sport into their sixties and seventies. Climbing is synonymous with many beneficial traits such as: strength, flexibility and coordination, personal attributes such as confidence and decision making skills and prioritising tasks in adverse situations, keeping calm and utilising thinking skills to navigate through physically and mentally challenging terrain. It teaches people to deal with new terrain and become adaptive. It also teaches people to work in teams and be supportive. Product development and innovation History of climbing equipment development What innovations occurred and what drove them?
What resent innovations have occurred? Velcro attachment of gear to harness. Ducktape gear to harness. Personal aid climbing gear. RP’s – innovation in small gear placements. Who climbs and what motivates them? - percentage of male climbers - percentage of female climbers - % young climbers under age of 18 - % climbers in 19-30 age - % climbers 31 – 39 age - % climbers 40 – 49 age - % climbers 50+ Who are the elite athletes? Age? Gender? Body shape? Weight? Height? Ape index? Psychology of a climber? What motivates them? Thrill seeking? Danger? Exercise? Adventure? How many people think climbing is dangerous? Injuries What injuries are sustained by climbers? And how are those injuries obtained? Are there preventative steps/ products existing?