Understanding the motivations of rock climbers: A social worlds study
Rock climbing affects public lands through erosion, destruction of vegetation, and disturbance to historical sites. Minimum impact messages can help reduce impacts but requires understanding characteristics of the message recipient. The purpose of this study was to understand the motivations of rock climbers to help land managers design more effective minimum impact messages. This study assesses the motivations of rock climbers using a social worlds approach, focusing on the sub-worlds of traditional climbers, sport climbers, and boulderers. I found that traditional climbers are most motivated to pursue a wilderness experience, climb in a natural wilderness setting, and climb in quiet remote settings. Sport climbers are most motivated to climb a quality route, climb in a natural wilderness setting, and push their physical limits while climbing. A small sample size prevented determination of boulderers' motivations. Sport climbers are less motivated by climbing close enough to the ground that a rope is not needed, climbing a route that requires gear to be placed, and having a short approach a climb. Traditional climbers are less motivated by climbing close enough to the ground that a rope is not needed, completing a single pitch boulder problem project, and having a short approach to a climb. Understanding these motivations can help land managers design minimum impact messages targeted specifically to the type of climbers using a particular location.