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The Relationship between Rock Climbers and Climbing Places Open Access


Other title
place attachment
rock climb
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Kulczycki, Cory A
Supervisor and department
Hinch, Tom (Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Thompson, Anna (Tourism)
Denison, Jim (Physical Education and Recreation)
Hvenegaard, Glen (Augustana Campus)
Halpenny, Elizabeth (Physical Education and Recreation)
Physical Education and Recreation

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Human interactions transform recreation and sport spaces into meaningful places. Textures, sights, and sounds are some of the elements that contribute to place meanings (Tuan, 1975). Beyond these sensory characteristics, a complex range of interconnected factors exist. While place meaning and place attachment have been studied in built and natural environments, there has been little comparative research between these settings in the context of recreation and sport. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate how a group of 21 rock climbers from Western Canada experienced natural outdoor and indoor climbing sites by addressing the question: “What transforms a climbing space into a climbing place?” Insight into rock climbers’ relationships with natural and indoor climbing sites was gained through an interpretive inquiry which helped the researcher understand the meanings, experiences, and behaviours of the climbers from their perspectives (Schwandt, 2001; Tribe, 2004; Williams, 2000). Semi-structured in-depth interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and analyzed to identify emergent themes (Patton, 2002). Analysis of the outdoor climbing narratives identified eight place themes which were grouped into three dimensions. This was followed by an analysis of the indoor climbing narratives which distinguished nine themes which were also grouped into three dimensions. Finally, the dissertation concludes with a discussion of the scholarly insights through consideration of the dimensions of place attachment and theories inclusive of suggestions for future place and rock climbing research. Exploring the way rock climbers interact in two very different types of settings (indoor and outdoor) contributes to a better understanding of place meaning and place attachment in the recreation and sport context both in theory and practice. The fundamental implication of the study findings for place theory is despite the similarity in terms of the physical mechanics of climbing in various settings, place meanings will vary depending on whether that activity takes place outdoors or indoors. Practical recommendations are provided for site managers and rock climbers to further enhance the climbing experience and establishment of place meanings.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Running Head: CLIMBING PLACES INQUIRY
File author: Cory
Page count: 251
File language: en-CA
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