More climbers are coming.
In 2018, a record 50 new commercial climbing gyms opened their doors in the United States, up from 43 the year before. Continued growth in the industry seems all but inevitable. In the last several years, average Americans have gotten unprecedented exposure to the sport, from Alex Honnold accepting an Oscar to President Barack Obama tweeting his congratulations to Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on their first free ascent of the Dawn Wall.
And if snowboarding—a one-time fringe pastime that exploded in popularity and became a mainstay at ski resorts everywhere—is any guide, climbing’s debut appearance at the 2020 Olympics will only drive more people into the sport. (Snowboarders first competed in the Olympics in 1998 in the midst of an incredible growth spurt that drove participation numbers from 7.7% of all visits to U.S. ski resorts in 1991 to 32.6% by 2010.
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