"Some of the best climbers, especially women, are very skinny and in fact some are even anorexic. This might be considered as one of the major problems in the climbing community. 8a feels that such climbers should not be part of the scorecard and the ranking as we do not want to promote this type of lifestyle. Instead, we want to mention that Chris Sharma's weight is 71 - 75 kg. This gives the 184 cm tall, and probably the best climber in the world, a BMI index of 21.6. Should we make a recommendation of BMI > 17, for scorecard users?"
In what is clearly a polemic news item, which has promoted discussion on the 8a.nu forum, the site owners have highlighted what they consider to be a problem within high level sport climbing circles. This statement has been met with widespread criticism on the 8a.nu site, but their initial posting, although strongly worded, has sprung from more official sources.
The Austrian Climbing Federation have released a BMI regulation for climbing competitions:
View it here (In German): www.wettklettern.at
The Federation previously had a minimum BMI limit for competitors (The actual BMI limit varies for different age groups and genders). After new scientific findings, this has been raised and will come in to force next year. In the interim period between now and next year, all international competitors from Austria needs to achieve at least 90% of the new BMI limit. Any competitors in the 90% - 100% bracket then have to see a doctor for advice on the effects of low weight and anorexia.
We at UKC think that climbers come in all shapes and sizes, as do climbs themselves. However, if there is a problem in climbing circles then we certainly don't want to stick our heads in the sand, and we will do all we can to promote healthy attitudes to food. We hope this isn't a common situation. Low weight is not always the key to climbing ability and certainly shouldn't be at the forefront of young people's minds as they progress through the sport. Climbing is about freedom, about challenge and about being healthy and energetic.
Should BMI regulations be introduced to more climbing competitions, or should the BMC be looking in to other ways to promote healthy participation in competition climbing?