Outdoor participation and intent among indoor climbers: Findings from the U.S. and Canada

2022, Leisure Studies, with Laura Allured


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Although rock climbing is thought of as a quintessential nature sport, much contemporary climbing takes place on indoor walls of plastic and wood – figuratively (and sometimes geographically) far from the outdoor settings where rock faces are found. In this paper, we leverage data from a survey of thousands of indoor climbers in the United States and Canada to examine differences between indoor-only climbers and those who also climb outdoors or intend to in the near future. Among other findings, our results suggest that climbing is less central in indoor-only climbers’ routines and tends to be less motivated by the managed risk-taking that was once considered an inseparable element of the sport. Our results also offer insights into possible shifts in the marginalisation of groups and identities

other than cisgender white men in outdoor recreation activities and contexts – and the role of indoor facilities in such shifts.