Collegiate varsity oarswomen and coxswain (N = 11) completed maximal aerobic exercise tests on a treadmill, a rowing ergometer, and a simulated climbing machine. Successful completion of each test was evidenced by a plateau in oxygen consumption in response to increasing work rates. VO2max (l.min-1), and minute ventilation (VE, l.min-1) at VO2max were significantly greater (P < 0.05) during simulated climbing compared to treadmill running and rowing ergometry. Maximal heart rate (beats.min-1) was significantly greater (P < 0.05) during climbing and running than during rowing. Findings indicate that progressive, incremental, whole-body climbing exercise elicits significantly greater VO2max values for collegiate oarswomen and coxswain than does graded treadmill running or progressive rowing ergometry.