Highly Commended: How Physics Powers Climbing

Congratulations to Oliver from King Edward VIth School who won the Highly Commended Award for the Aged 16 category. Oliver created a video to demonstrate the physics behind his passion for rock climbing. Take a look at his entry below:

Physics plays a vital role in climbing, influencing everything from effective techniques to the design of climbing gear. As someone who has been climbing for a while, I’ve come to truly appreciate the great impact physics has on climbers. One key principle is the importance of keeping your weight close to the wall, which not only conserves energy but also enhances performance. By understanding the moments involved in climbing, we can grasp why this technique is effective. As you ascend, your weight naturally tries to pull you away from the wall, while your arms strive to keep you anchored to it. To maintain your position, these opposing moments must balance out. By staying close to the wall, you minimize the weight moment and consequently reduce the amount of force required to counteract it, thus saving precious energy. Newton’s second law explains why being caught by a rope during a fall doesn’t hurt and we can use F=𝜇R to understand how climbing shoes and chalk enhance your grip on the wall. In this video, I provide a brief overview of these physics concepts, and for those seeking a more detailed understanding, I’ve also included explanatory text and relevant equations.