Active + Adventure

Extreme Sports for Spectators

by Dave Flanagan

IFSC Climbing World Championship, Arco, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy

Why watch: Gnarly athletes rock in the vertical realm

Watching a finely honed rock star levitate up a huge, overhanging climbing wall like a spider on speed is truly something to behold. Granted, competition climbing lacks the danger element you get when scrabbling up an ice face at 25,000 feet, but negotiating your way up a 60-foot wall while supporting your body with a few fingers isn't exactly child's play, either. The combination of speed, strength, and positions you'd usually expect from top gymnasts makes this a great sport for spectators, even those who don't know their carabiners from their crampons. Arco, in northern Italy, is where the finest competitors in the sport-climbing scene are heading this summer, with the picturesque commune hosting the World Climbing Championship. The event includes head-to-head speed competitions and lead, boulder, and team climbing contests; plus, the first-ever Paraclimbing World Championship is being held at the same time, so there's going to be no shortage of excitement. Just be careful your neck doesn't get stiff from looking skyward with your mouth open.

IFSC Climbing World Championship, July 15–24, 2011

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