Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Committee Chair/Advisor

Bixler, Robert D.

Committee Member

Baldwin , Elizabeth D.

Committee Member

Bridges, Jr. , William C.


Rock climbing, as a sport, began as a definitive style in the pursuit of attaining mountain peaks. However, over time, it has evolved into several different styles with varying rules and different goals, and can be experienced in a variety of settings. The growing popularity of the indoor gym climbing as both a practice space for more serious climbers and as an introductory venue for beginning climbers may have changed the way climbers develop attitudes, skills, and ethics that influence the role of managers of climbing areas. Information on how climbers may or may not be similar in terms of their preferences for different climbing styles and settings will aid managers of climbing areas with decisions that affect climbing opportunities and experiences. This study explores how climbing subgroups are different based on their preferences for wilderness settings, their support for Leave No Trace principles and management decisions, and attitudes toward the natural environment. In addition, this study explores whether socialization may play a role in these preferences. 504 climbers were approached at climbing gyms and outdoor recreation areas in the southeastern U.S. during the summer of 2007 and asked to complete an online survey consisting of items from the Wilderness Purism Scale, Leave No Trace principles, specific management decisions, and the Survey of Environmental Quality: Universal Orientations and Individual Attitudes. 409 surveys were usable for this study. Respondents were categorized by self-reporting climbing styles and one-way analysis of variance used to test the climbing subgroups for differences. Rock climbing subgroups differed on factors related to self-sufficiency, preferences for wilderness settings, proximity to modern conveniences, closures to climbing areas, and impacts to climbing resources. In addition, differences based on socialization elements were primarily limited to preferences for wilderness settings and sensitivity to variations in the quality of a wilderness experience. The implications of this study and future research needs for climbing area managers are discussed.



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