Pole Climbing

Pole Climbing also known as Mast Climbing, is an activity which involves climbing very high wooden poles. The activity requires intense physical strength and endurance. Though Pole climbing is practiced as a competitive sport, there is not much interest in it at present, and is regarded as a dying sport.

Pole climbing in the past was practiced without any equipment, but at present, athletes use a band that runs around their waist and the pole, and clamps attached to their shoes similar to that used for ice climbing.

olympic pole climbing demonstration Pole Climbing at the 1904 Olympic Games
from: Spalding's official athletic almanac 1905

The objective of the sport is fairly straight forward. Contestants, one at a time, attempt to climb the pole in the fastest time possible. The athlete with the fastest time is declared as the winner. Races are also conducted in a head-to-head format where two athletes directly compete to climb up identical poles with the athlete to reach the top first declared as the winner.

There are currently no exclusive events for pole climbing; competitions are mostly conducted as part of other major events. The annual Lumberjack World Championship is a major event that features pole climbing, in which athletes compete to speed climb poles that are 60ft and 90ft high. The annual Woodfest event also features pole climbing races.

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