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The C-HIPPER International Research Project

The C-HIPPER project (Climbing High Performance International Project) is an international rock climbing research project that came about following the 2nd Rock Congress in Pontresina (Switzerland). The Congress provided an excellent opportunity for like-minded researchers to come together and form such collaborations. In C-HIPPERS case this was Vanesa España-Romero, Inma Garrido, Simon Fryer and Dave Giles from the Universities of Cadiz and Granada in Spain and Gloucestershire and Derby in the UK, respectively.

The research presented at the Congress advanced our collective knowledge of a wide range of topics, including enhancing our understanding of climbing physiology. However, it became clear that some physiological aspects had not seen significant investigation and remained unknown; such as the specifics of oxygen uptake, muscle tissue oxygenation kinetics and blood flow between climbing contractions and specific recovery time, and in particular how these parameters related to performance. In addition to determining physiological responses, it was recognized that there has been little or no research into psychological aspects of the sport such as stress tolerance, attentional focus and emotional intelligence. These are factors which have all been considered as limiting factors in other sports disciplines, but have not received any attention in rock climbing.

As such, the main purpose of the first C-HIPPER project was to bring experts in different fields together to improve our knowledge of the physiological and psychological aspects of high performance climbing. In particular, attention was initially paid to assessing a range of physiological and psychological aspects across a range of rock climbing abilities.

Thirty-eight rock climbers from different cities across Spain were assessed during the first C-HIPPER project over seven days in Granada, Spain. The main measurements were:

i) socio-demographic characteristics

ii) body composition by Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry

iii) maximal oxygen uptake in treadwall and treadmill

iv) muscle tissue oxygenation kinetics and blood volume responses during rock climbing

v) assessment of dominant and non-dominant oxidative capacity in the flexor digitorum profundus

vi) stress tolerance and attentional focus using Vienna test system

vii) emotional intelligence using the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) and The Schutte Self Report Emotional Intelligence Test (SSEIT)

viii) dietary patterns

The findings of the C-HIPPER project will help to develop climbing specific psychological and physiological performance measures; it is hoped that these measures will provide both the athlete and coach with information in order to monitor performance and help optimize individuals training regimes. The findings will also serve as a scientific platform for future interventional studies.

More details about the C-HIPPER project may be found on their Facebook page. Details of publications, presentations and information dissemination will be added as and when available. If you would like further details about the research project please contact or

Happy climbing and researching,

The C-HIPPER team

Vanesa, Inma, Simon and Dave

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