Although most climbers will never be famous, the best are as dedicated to their sport as any Olympic athlete. Top boulderers and rock climbers train year-round, as much as five to six days a week, to improve their strength, flexibility, and endurance. Indoor gyms have allowed climbers to train throughout the winter and long into the night, leading to a leap in ability levels for both average and elite climbers. In addition to training on climbing routes and boulder problems-both outdoors and on artificial walls - dedicated climbers use specialized exercise equipment often found at indoor climbing gyms. These include:
• Hangboards - Resin or wooden boards molded with a variety of handholds. These are mounted to a wall or door frame overhead so the climber can perform pull-ups and other strength-training routines.
• Campus boards - Overhanging panels mounted with a ladder of slats or rails that a climber can ascend with no feet for an intensive workout. The terms "campus board" and "campusing" originated with a famous German climber who developed this technique at a university gym.
• Treadwalls™ - Mechanical climbing walls that move as the climber "ascends" the surface, allowing continuous movement to provide a great endurance workout.
Though climbers have always been competitive and pushed each other to try more difficult ascents, formal competitions have spread with the advent of indoor climbing facilities. Some climbers focus entirely on training for competitions. There is a World Cup circuit (similar to skiing's World Cup) for lead climbing, bouldering, and speed climbing. A World Championship is held every two years for adults, and every year for younger climbers. Soon, climbing may be an Olympic sport.
Most climbing gyms in America host local competitions for their members and guests, and many high schools and colleges have climbing teams. The best climbers may compete at a regional or national level as well. In the United States, USA Climbing (USAC) is the national governing body for climbing competitions. Each year, USAC organizes local, regional, and national competitions, in which tens of thousands of climbers participate in bouldering, sport, or speed climbing. In addition to adult competitions, young climbers compete in various age groups up to age 19. These competitions select each year's U.S. Climbing Teams (adult and youth) in lead climbing. bouldering, and speed. Team members are invited to the World Championships and other major international events.