Sports Cragging: A Definition You’ll Want to Know

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Me sports cragging in my approach shoes earlier this spring. Photo: Seth Zegelestein

You’ve probably heard of “cragging.” You’ve also most likely heard of sport climbing. However, most climbers are unfamiliar with the term “sports cragging.”

As the name implies, sports cragging refers to a ground-up effort to ascend a bolted cliff in as many ways (also known as lines) as possible. At first, this practice might look identical to sport climbing; however, “sports”–with an “s”–cragging is defined by a lack of the athletic effort often found in sport climbing. Where the purpose of sport climbing is to push oneself gymnastically and physically on the wall, sports cragging is all about fun and relaxation.

Most often, sports craggers (those who engage in sports cragging) climb at least three number grades below their typical onsight level. They are most often found at sunny, slabby cliffs with three to four people for every rope to allow adequate tanning, napping, snacking, and chilling time between cruising up each route. Sports craggers often have sports cragging dogs with them for emotional support and petting entertainment between climbs.

You can identify sports craggers by their smiling faces, lack of pump, and continuous chatting even while climbing. Sports craggers climbing adjacent lines will often hold conversations as they simultaneously send. They also describe each climb as being “fun,” “not scary,” “juggy,” and “not hard but you have to think about a couple moves toward the top, so it’s also not boring.”

The biggest giveaway, however, is when a sports cragger leads a route only to lower and ask “would you mind if I try to toprope this in my approach shoes?” If they effortlessly lap the route in their Guide Tennies, they’re most certainly sports cragging.

Why engage in this seemingly wimpy activity? Sports cragging is the ideal active rest day and/or hangover activity. You won’t get a workout or impress anyone with onsighting that bolted 5.7 when they know you’ve sent 5.12, but you will enjoy hours of happiness with your friends. You’ll likely come away with a nice tan, minimal sweat, a giant grin, and more happiness than you started the day with. Challenging yourself is important, but, once in a while, it’s okay to go sports cragging.

 

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