top of page

Climbing Research - 1945 to 1980

Effects of the Rope in Rock-climbing Accidents

J E Q Barford

(1945) British Medical Journal 2:4428, 705

Sir,-As is well known, difficult rock-climbing is usually undertaken by "roped"  parties consisting of two or more climbers. Where the difficulties warrant it only one climber moves at a time, and therefore on upward climbing, although not on traverses, the security afforded by the rope is complete to all except the leader. When an ascent is approaching vertical and a leader falls the force generated in the rope is very great, and, if the second man is properly placed and holding by the shoulder belay, he may be subjected to a shock load amounting to, in theory, anything from  1/2 to 1 ton, as is perhaps proved by instances of the leader's rope breaking in such circumstances. The point arises as to the effect of this on the leader and the second, who should normally be holding the rope over his shoulder, of the result of the shock passing first to his shoulcler and then to his hands which are grasping the rope. The British Mountaineering Council is anxious to secure evidence of the effects on the leader, round whose waist the rope is tied, and on the second of this great shock. In the case of the leader the shock comes on his ribs or spine. Can readers of the Journal give the results of actual experience of injur:es  sus­ tained by the leader due to the effect of the rope on his body in the arrest of a fall? Further, can actual facts be  given of injuries sustained by a second in stopping the fall of the leacer, particularly where such falls have been stopped by means of the rope being held so that the shock comes primarily on the shoulders of the second. There are probably some doctors whose work lies in Wales, the Lake District, or Scotland, where much rock-climb:ng is done, who could give information on these points, and records of facts would be greatly appreciated by this Council.-I am, etc., 

Mountain-climbing safety

B G Ferris Jr

(1963) The New England journal of medicine 268, 662-664

A PREVIOUS report discussed mountaineering accidents and their causation. The present report outlines preventive measures that mountain climbers can take to ensure their enjoying this sport safely.


As in any sport that demands a high level of physical exertion, physical condition is of prime importance. Improving physical condition involves increasing muscular strength and endurance, as well as improving skill in the various technics used. One may do this by gradually increasing the amount of physical exertion, as by increasing the speed at which a given climb is done or by increasing the load carried. This last point should be emphasized . . .


The personality profiles of potential climbers with particular reference to anxiety

T R Edwards

(1967) Research in Papers in Physical Education 1:5, 15-25

No Further Information

This study was designed to investigate the problem of anxiety and the measurement of this syndrome. On the one hand, paper and pencil tests were administered to the pupils involved, on the other, these same pupils were placed in a simulated rock-climbing situation io order to assess their anxiety levels. The, results of these two tests were correlated in order to investigate the hypothesis that a relationship does exist between the general anxiety level as assessed by pencil and paper tests and the more specific type of anxiety which is experienced by individuals who are . facing a potentially dangerous physical situation. Personality profiles of all the boys tested were constructed, and a more detailed analysis made of the factors which contribute to the anxiety score. This study revealed a small but significant correlation between the anxiety scores of all boys on a paper and pencil test and an anxiety rating based on performance in a rock-climbing situation. 

Personality and climbing

Gray, D

(1967) Research Papers in Physical Education. Ed. Carnagie College of Physical Education 5

No Further Information

Why do people climb? is a question which will probably always defy a general answer because so much depends on the individual. Even to decide one's own reasons can be very difficult: hence a climber usually either evades the question altogether, or gives a stock answer designed to halt further probing. Indeed, its sheer irrationality may be one of the attractions of the sport. 

The Americanization of rock climbing

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


University of Chicago Magazine 61:6, 20-27

No details...

An Investigation into Rock Climbing Efficiency

D J Rushworth

(1972) British Journal of Sports Medicine 6:3-4, 142-143

The investigation was carried out with two aims in view. Firstly, to produce experimantal evidence of the consituents of an efficient climbing style, and secondly to investigate the possibilities of skill analysis by the use of video tape, electromyograph and heart rate recordings.

Please reload

bottom of page