Indoor Rock Climbing for Baby Boomers

Indoor Rock Climbing for Baby Boomers

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Actual Risk vs. Perceived Risk

Indoor Climbing Injury Statistics:

I knew that rock climbing was dangerous, but decided to look up injury rate studies on indoor climbing. I was surprised to discover there was a huge gap between my perceived risk vs. the actual risk.

I found a massive study in progress at a large climbing gym in Germany. This study tracked 515,337 climbing sessions over five years (2007-2011). Ages ranged from 8 to 80. 

A total of 30 injuries were recorded (all forms of climbing); 6 while bouldering, 16 lead climbing injuries, 7 top-rope climbing injuries and one non-climbing injury. No fatalities were recorded. Climbing time was accurately monitored by an electronic entry and exit system.

Studies on sport safety are shown as numbers of injuries per 1,000 participation hours. This particular study showed 0.02 injuries per 1,000 hours of climbing time, which works out to less than one percent of other sports/activities: 

Injury rate per 1,000 hours of participation:
  • Basketball: 14
  • Running: 11
  • Dance Classes: 5
  • Treadmill: 6 
  • Tennis: 5 
  • Bicycling: 3.5
  • Stationary cycle exercise: 2
  • Stair Climbing: 2
  • Indoor Climbing (all disciplines):  0.02
  • Indoor Climbing (top-rope only): 0.005


As I compared injury rates I realized my fear certainly exceeded reality. I've done all of those activities and their injury rates look terrible compared to the results of this long-term study. 

I also noticed top-rope climbing's injury rate was only one-fourth that of indoor climbing's overall injury rate. I remembered my first experience at top-rope climbing with my granddaughters and decided to find out if there were any indoor climbing facilities in or near Des Moines.