Origins of Climbing Competitions

In which country do you think first climbing competition took place? Russia (USSR then). Can you guess a year? 1947.

IFSC – International Federation of Sport Climbing recognizes it on the IFSC History page:

The first climbing competitions were organized in the former USSR in the late 1940s. These events were focused on Speed Climbing, and were mostly dedicated to Soviet climbers until the 1980s.

So, yeap, sport climbing was born in Russia.

First international climbing competition happened in 1976 in Russian city Gagra. Rough translation of some details of that event from the page of Russian Federation of Climbing

In 1976 (October), the first international climbing competition, conducted by the rules of the State Sports Committee of the USSR in Gagra in the gorge Yupshara. In addition to the Soviet climbers, climbers from Austria, East Germany, Poland, Romania, France, Germany and Japan participated in the competition. Individual climbing won A.Demin, all-around – V.Markelov. Besides the Russian athletes, climbers from Poland and Germany did pretty well.

As an observer at competitions attended Robert Parago – the current president of Mountaineering and Climbing Federation of France, who said at the end of the competition, that “the Soviet climbers have a fantastic virtuosity, their level of climbing the steep and overhanging cliffs impresses.”

Famous German mountaineer Otto Wiedemann in an interview with the Bulgarian newspaper “Echo” said about the competitions: “I climbed almost all the big walls of the Swiss and French Alps, in Alaska went to McKinley, together with Reinhold Messner climbed in the Himalayas, I was in the Pamirs and the Caucasus, but the biggest impression of my life was made by the climbing competition, where I finished in sixth place, behind only Russian climbers. I would describe this sport as something fabulous, requiring extremely high level of training.”

Some interesting facts could be found at, but (in case you do not read Russian) you would have to run Russian text through some translator (google translation does reasonable job).

In 70s and 80s Russian climbers gave good competition to the best of European climbers. In 1984 at the comp in Crimean city Simeiz, legendary climber Wolfgang Güllich was 4-th, in first place Russian climber Alexey Chertov.