Honestly, Iran is not a country known for sport climbing. I mean if you bring the name of the country and ask people what comes to their mind, they will probably say Persian Rug or Persian Cat. So, like many other aspects of the country, its sport, especially sports like climbing is unknown to the world. That is why I thought of writing this post talking about the sport climbing history in Iran. But before that, I will first talk about this activity and how it began of course very briefly.
Sport Climbing History in World
Sport climbing, on general, began from the early years of fifties and is attributed to John Gale. Up to this point in history, climbing was part of mountaineering. Usually mountaineers practiced climbing as part of their preparation for mountaineering expeditions. John, however, spent a great deal of his time on rocks. He practiced climbing and performing gymnastic-like moves. That is why now we call him the initiator of the Bouldering section of sport climbing. Although John’s influence is very impressive, there is still a long way to go.
Sport Climbing History in World: The 70s
It is in the seventies that a new generation of climbers start their journey in Europe, especially in France. Many routes were bolted and prepared for further ascend. The popularity of climbing rose everywhere especially in US where the Yosemite National Park became the hangout of rock climbers. Slowly the practices as well as the equipment improved and following that, the whole sport advanced.
Sport Climbing History in World: The 80s
In eighties, Wolfgang Güllich and in nineties Lynn Hill gave this sport more credibility and competitions in this field gain more importance. It was in 1888 that finally and after years of effort, the French were successful in convincing International Mountaineering Federation to recognize this sport. And in 1989 the first World Championship Competition was held in categories of Speed and Lead.
What happened next?
From this time, the number of competitions increased. However, it took 10 years for Bouldering to become part of the competition. In 1999, the first Bouldering competition was held but more as a trial. Besides, it took another 8 years for this sport to become independent. It was in 2007 that the International Federation of Sport Climbing officially began working independently.
This was a very short description of Sport Climbing History in World. Now it’s time to talk a little about Iran and see how is the Sport Climbing History in Iran.
Sport Climbing History in Iran
From 1947, the mountaineering in Iran became official with the establishment of a Federation. One year later, the sport of ski was added and it became the Mountaineering and Ski Federation of Iran.
With the passing of time and the expansion of both fields, one federation was no longer practical. That is why in 1974 the two sports went independent each having their own Federations. In 2007, when the international federation of sport climbing began its activity, Iran Federation of Mountaineering changed its name to Iran Federation of Mountaineering and Sport Climbing.
Sport Climbing History in Iran: The 80s
The eighties are cornerstone in the climbing realm of Iran. It is the beginning of professional climbing with the major long routes being bolted. The bolts usually had ropes and the climbing in this time was ascending through these ropes. This was the traditional way of ascend that most climbers used.
In the same decade and in matter of a couple of years, we see that a new approach surfaces. This approach focused on fast ascends that needed few equipment. One of the main hangouts of this form of climbing was Band Yakhchal climbing area around Tehran. The climbers here usually began with choosing a route. This route, naturally, was not high. They attempted to ascend and would fail and fall to the ground numerous time until they became successful.
The climber more prone to the traditional style mocked this new approach and did not consider it climbing. However, the new generation proved how influential it has been with their overall performance. The most famous of new approach climbers in this era are Mohammad Davoudi, Mehdi Fatahi, Mohammad Sarbaz, and Hossein Rezadost.
It was also in the same decade that the climbing competition began with the first one being held in 1990 and in Band Yakhchal. The criteria of the competition was more on the speed of ascend and not the techniques. One year later, the first climbing wall was built with the holds that Mohammad Davoudi had imported from Italy.
Sport Climbing History in Iran: Next Step
Slowly, more and more walls are built and more people become interested in this sport. From this time, the federation began inviting foreign instructor to hold educational coursed in different fields including refereeing competitions and route setting. There are also many climber that are sent abroad to take part in courses and competitions. Now, Iranian have great success in Asian competition and have a record setter in World Championship games.
Reza Alipour is Iran’s record setter and champion in the speed category. We will write more about him and his achievement in other posts. We will also have a separate post introducing Iran’s most important climbing destinations.
Our post Sport Climbing History in Iran is based on data gathered from Iran Federation of Mountaineering and Sport Climbing and the personal experience of some climbers. If you have any question feel free to contact us.