Sport climbing is a form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors fixed to the rock for protection. This is in contrast to traditional, (“trad”), climbing where climbers must place removable protection as they climb.

Sport climbing emphasises strength, endurance, gymnastic ability and technique over adventure, risk and self-sufficiency. For the majority of sport climbers sport climbing offers an easier, more convenient experience which requires less equipment, less in the way of technical skills (required to protect the climb) and lower levels of mental stress than traditional climbing.

With increased accessibility to climbing walls and gyms more climbers now enter the sport through indoor climbing than outdoor climbing and the transition from indoor to sport climbing is much easier than the transition to trad climbing because the techniques and equipment used for indoor leading are nearly sufficient to sport climb (whereas trad requires significantly more in terms of techniques, experience and equipment).

While sport climbing is common in many areas world wide, it is heavily restricted in some places where it is considered ethically unacceptable to bolt climbs. This is largely due to the local climbing traditions and the type of rock, for instance, it is often considered reasonable to bolt limestone or slate quarries in the UK (especially if these are otherwise unprotectable) but it is considered completely unacceptable to bolt gritstone regardless as to how bold (dangerous) a line might be. Debates over bolting in the climbing communities are often fierce and bolting without a consensus in favour of bolting generally leads to the destruction or removal of the bolts by activists against bolting.

Since sport lines do not need to follow lines where protection can be placed they tend to follow more direct and straight forward paths up crags than trad lines which can be winding and devious by comparison. This, in addition to the need to place gear, tends to result in different styles of climbing between sport and trad.

On August 3, 2016, Sport climbing was added to the 2020 Summer Olympics program.

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