The History of Climbing
It’s easy to see that climbing is an activity that has been practiced for a very long time, and the earliest proof of this we find in some Chinese watercolor paintings from 400 BC, other than that it hasn’t been all to many records of this activity from the older days. What we do know though is that historically mountains have often by many cultures been seen as sacred, this of course because of its closeness to the heavens. Why man started to climb mountains Is probably a combination of curiosity and necessity. In some cultures the reason have been that they needed to build altars to the mountain gods others found shelter in the mountain caves and some needed to climb high to be able to watch out for enemies and so on.
It is first during the enlightenment that the interest for climbing mountains got bigger in Europe and the first ascent of Mont Blanc in 1786 has often been referred to as the start of Mountaineering as a hobby, but the start of it as a sport is dated to 1854 after the mountain Wetterhorn in Switzerland was first climbed. It only took about another 10 years for the sport to look pretty much as it is today when it comes to equipment, guidelines and so on.
When many of the European mountains already had been conquered the trained climbers started to look for new challenges in other parts of the world. The ones that survived one mountain kept switching their interest to the next one from The Selkirk Mountains in America, The Andes in Bolivia, Kilimanjaro in Africa, The Himalayas in Central Asia to finally end up with the biggest challenge, the highest of them all, Mount Everest in the border of Tibet and Nepal. Many attempts were made to ascend this giant, raising the height record a little at a time until one of the summits were finally reached in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.
Meanwhile the actual Rock Climbing, hanging from steep rocks and cliffs, had only been seen as a part of and as a training method for the Mountaineers but in the 1950s this to became a sport of its own. From the beginning rock climbing was performed with often homemade gear made of pitons and chock stones but as the sport has developed its become more and more popular to do shorter but more difficult climbs and the more dangerous its become the more techniques and gear has been designed to help protect the climbers.