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Photo: lytfyre

A study by a University of Hertfordshire professor suggests that women are especially attracted to men who rock climb.

WORKING WITH FITNESS expert Sam Murphy, Prof. Richard Wiseman polled over 6,000 people to find out which of 15 sports they thought would make a member of the opposite sex more attractive. Climbing topped the list for women with 57%, edging out extreme sports, soccer, and hiking.

I can’t say I’m surprised. Climbing is just a sexy sport in and of itself. It’s adventurous, acrobatic, and takes place in some of the most beautiful spots in nature. Climbers themselves tend to be trim, muscular, extremely flexible people with a penchant for taking their shirts off. Who wouldn’t want that?

Men, apparently. Among the survey’s male participants, climbing didn’t even make it to the top five. Men overwhelmingly picked aerobics (70%) as the sexiest activity, followed by yoga/pilates, going to the gym, and running.

On his site, Wiseman offer a possible explanation for the gender gap:

Women’s choices appear to reflect the type of psychological qualities that they find attractive – such as bravery and a willingness to take on challenges – whilst men are more shallow, looking for a woman who is physically fit but not challenging their ego by being overly strong.

If it’s true, it’s disappointing. I have to imagine that most of the men polled for the survey didn’t climb. In my experience, most male climbers think it’s a huge plus if a woman is into their sport. For serious gym rats, dating another climber may be the only way to get a girlfriend that they’ll ever see.

Photo: Mykl

My gender’s poor taste in sports aside, I’m pretty happy with the results of the survey. It’s nice to see my climbing addiction validated by members of the opposite sex.

Golf is unsexy

Golf didn’t fare quite as well. The sport came in second to last in women’s estimation, just above aerobics. According to Aspiring Golfer, Wiseman suggests three reasons that women find golf so unattractive:

1. Golfers don’t have to be fit.
2. They keep their clothes on while playing.
3. They frequently wear plaid and Pringle jumpers.

As unsexy as these are, I’m not convinced that fit, scantily-clad golfers would be enough to make golf interesting. It would probably boost the PGA Tour’s female audience, though.

Whether we’ll now be seeing more golfers swapping their plaid pants for climbing harnesses is hard to say. I don’t know if it would make a difference for them anyway. To me, the sexiness of climbing is less about muscles and super-hard moves, and more about the passion and commitment that climbers have for their sport. If you’re not feeling it, it’s awfully hard to fake.

Community Connection

Matador Sports interviews Kevin Jorgeson about the Dawn Wall project.

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About The Author

Adam Roy

Chicago native Adam Roy is the former-Editor of Matador Sports and an aspiring renaissance man to boot. For more of Adam's writing, check out his blog at Ill-Advised Adventures.

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  • Candice

    Ah, yes. Can’t resist those muscly arms.

    Dammit, looks like I have to take up aerobics. You mean body-building isn’t desirable?

    • jimmy


  • Reannon

    Aerobics??? I don’t believe that. Who are these men that they polled? Where are they from?

    I’m surprised ice skaters or gymnasts didn’t make the list. What about surfers? Aren’t female surfers sexy? I’m not a guy but I would think any sport where a girl is in a bikini would be appealing, no?

    “Going to the gym” is not even a sport! I think that you’re right, the results would’ve been different if they had polled anyone who actually did any of the sports on that list.

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  • Kush

    Hmmm these results are interesting.
    I must say that climbing guys are very sexy and certainly love to take of their shirts, making it very entertaining ;)

    Howevermy personal experience has varied quite alot, with no single opinion taking prevalence. Some climbers absolutely have to have a climbing girl friend, for them its a deal breaker. But for alot I’ve found that they would rather have a hiker for a girl friend, because its more about having someone with similar outlooks to them, i.e. into nature, but not necessarily into climbing because they don’t want to spend all their time with them. They seem to want some space when it comes to their climbing. And of course there are those that above all else want you to be a lady before anything else. Hmmm, me think its a bit hard to pull off the dainty little lady look on the said of the mountain.

    At the end of the day, I can’t seem to find a consistent opinion, even among them I here them disagree alot. So there really is no point in trying to understand these creatures when they themselves do not know what they want.

    • climberbabe

      I fully agree with this article. I’m a female climber, and lemme tell ya, i may not be 5’0 100lbs (“dainty”) but i’m fit and still very attractive. Also, i actually met my boyfriend at a climbing wall. Climbing is a passion which we both share and we both find this a blessing. We’re able to take climbing trips and go to climbing gyms together and we enjoy the time this gives us. As someone from the inside, i give props to this article and its validity =)

    • Michael Boone

      Well I can only speak from experience, but I’m a male rock climber and the last quality I want in a girl is ‘dainty’. I want a tough, gnarly babe who climbs super hard and sends 5.12+ .. my only complaint about my current girlfriend is that she only sends 5.11, but we’re working on that :-)

    • Natalie

      AY Kushal is that you?!

      But as an advent female rock climber, I really do think climbing is the sexiest sport for men. Not just the physical aspect of it… but the overall attitude and fitness. Climbing is a whole different sport, I wouldn’t even call it a sport… moreover a passion. Rock climbing is somewhat a competitive sport, but not as gnarly as others. The obvious ripped back muscles is a plus, but the climbing community is (generally) surrounded by positive and encouraging attitudes. I see guys every day encouraging and giving advice to each other and genuinely mean it.

      So its not just the physical fitness that sexy, the overall attitude also.

  • Dom

    I do both rock climbing and golf. Am I sexy or not?

    • Jaycock

      unfortunately golf is not sexy

      • Aikighost

        But climbers are all homosexual. Why do women always like queers so much?

  • Marc

    I am rock climbing myself and must say that female cilimbers are pretty attractive too!!
    And I am not afraid for a woman that beats me at climbing… Another motive to climb more and better myself ;)

  • ukclimber

    Hey guys + girls.

    Ive been climbing for a few years now. and i can say with all honesty, a climbing girlfriend, would just be the best thing in the world, someone to share my passion for the sport, and doesnt seem bewildered by all the climbing jargon :P but i am yet to find one :( one day! :) hopefully.

    • ClimberMike

      Agreed! A girlfriend that you can take climbing is awesome… sorry you haven’t found one yet. Maybe try sites like FitnessSingles or 

  • VancouverClimber

    Have done indoors for 4.5 months and went outdoors yesterday and learned to lead belay and rappel..

    I’m not a girly girl but I am a girl none the less and I have a fear of heights, but climbing with guys help a lot. It forces me to ‘man-up’.

    I agree that some guys don’t like having girls that are stronger or more ‘masculine’ but I don’t want a guy who’s emotional and feminine either. It’s a two way street!

    As a girl climber, I want a man who’s emotionally and physically stronger!

  • monkeypunch

    HAHA Wiseman think’s it’s because men are afraid of female climbers, if you look at the top 2 sports (aerobics and yoga) men generally find this sexy because the women doing it wear very tight clothing and stretch in a lot of odd positions . . same with the gym and running . . well can anyone say ‘sports bra’ or lack of for most female runners, thus catching the males eye :)

  • Yup

    My guess is guys are intimidated by women rock climbers

    • UT200112

      Not intimidated, more like just not turned on? And that’s ok right? To each their own.

  • Mark

    Fuck this “women good, men bad” kind of thinking in its ear.

    Maybe women are the shallow ones and think that thin ripped guys taking their shirts off are hot, or maybe men are the deep ones that think a woman doing something that is conducive to a reproductive purpose are hot?

    Who the hell is the asshole who did this study to assume that men are shallow and women are deep? Did he even ask men and women what their motivations were before writing that paragraph on what he assumed their motivations were? 

  • Eddie

    Rock climbing is tough and you need a big upper body.   I don’t find women who are just as big as me attractive.   I am not saying they aren’t.   Just not for me.   I do like a more feminine woman.   I do agree that type of woman is fading fast.   It does not change the way I feel though, I can’t just want a “manlier woman”.   I do like well fit women also.   Very trim and athletic.   I don’t like couch potatoes who complain about how in shape the world is.

  • Jess

    Eddie, I get the feeling you don’t do much climbing.  The idea that you need a large strong upper body to be a good climber is a myth.  Strength to weight ratio is a huge factor.  It’s much better to be light and a little less strong, that super bulky.  Climbing is much more about how you move than how strong you are.  If you have good technique then muscle isn’t as important. 

  • John Defahl

    Limber and lanky and women are loving it!  Duh!  Not hard to figure out why!

  • iminit4freebooze

    guys what is wrong with you???? you didn’t even pick pole dancing!!!!!!!!

  • Al Mori

    I really liked this article. In fact, I’ve been climbing now for 6 years, and I had a girlfriend who rock climbed with me, it was really a beautiful method to connect to each other in sort of super natural ways.

    I find rock climbing ladies very attractive, and I would rather prefer a girl who goes on climbing with me, than a gym nerd. Not to say I am not really into anti-sport girls.

  • Jstone

    I think women like climbing for the ratio of 200/1, Men like Yoga cause it’s 30/1.

  • Alexis

    Mesa Rim has built in sexiness – check us out in San Diego

  • Moose180

    all i do, all the time, is climb. you sir have given me hope


    bs rugby is boss . END OF

  • Matthew Wilcox

    Nice article, awful conclusions by Wiseman though (not living up to the name at all).

    “Shallow” has nothing to do with it. What men find sexy is a woman’s appearance because that’s what evolution makes us find sexy. Just like it’s that which makes women care about other aspects. There is no intelligence or culture involved, and so no opportunity for “shallow” or “high brow”.

    Likewise, ego has nothing to do with anything here. ‘What sport is sexy’ means what sport makes us think about sex with participants of the sport. For guys that’s mainly about looks. Ego only comes into thinking about relationships; that’s love – a completely different thing.

    Likewise, while most men would likely say yoga or anything with tight clothing and lithe bodies is sexier – when looking for relationships watch that drop away and get replaced with stuff like climbing. Who wouldn’t want relationships with like-minded people who’re also active?

    Sex vs relationships. Sexy vs attractive. Different. Things.

  • Jean-val Pierre

    When i`m climbing i don`t want to have to feel like i should slow down or wait for a woman, one of the reasons i climb is for the freedom that there is in it not to `grow closer` to a significant other. That is not to say i`m not attracted to women who try to climb but i would never climb with one, in the end i just don`t think it matters that much. 

    Take me for example, im a climber, does that instantly mean women find me sexy? No it does not because im also a chauvinistic misanthrope and if im not climbing or doing some other kind of activity that purposefully excludes other people im getting drunk and being generally quite abusive.

    In other words, this is a stupid article written to boost the ego of male climbers and the writer himself (this is especially evident in the last paragraph before the pointless attack on golf) and finally, if you are ugly climbing wont change that fact. 

  • Sweeneyt

    Anyone know where I can find a copy of the original academic paper?

  • Dave Peppelaar

    Daarom klimmen we toch.

    • Marcel Rijsmus


    • Martijn Pil

      En gelijk hebben ze. Maar was het ook al sexy voordat wij klommen? Gevalletje kip-eiersalade..

    • Dave Peppelaar

      Met ons is het sexy-climbing toch zeker van start gegaan ( ik ben een creationist)…..maar ben ik dan een kip of een ei?

    • Martijn Pil

      Creationistische kippen leggen volgens de SGP in ieder geval 7% minder eieren dan atheistische. Moeilijke vraag hoor..

    • Dave Peppelaar

      En als de kippen verkracht worden leggen ze helemaal nauwelijks nog eieren …. maar ja een haan met zijn broek omlaag rent nooit zo snel als een hen met de rok omhoog..dus dat begrijp ik wel

  • Rocco Zumstein

    oh shit…ben en hippster.

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