Mountain Project Logo

Grades, information-gathering, and leading near your limit as a short/tall/non-"average" climber


aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294

So all the elitist spraying aside, what are some real ways a short climber can improve and get better? I’m 5’7 wih 0 ape, so not as short as some of you… but sometimes I still run into the reach problem.

Lately I’ve been doing an exercise in the gym where I will repeat a single move on a boulder problem with every foothold in the vicinity of the move that I can possibly use. I start with problem 3-4 grades below my flash grade as to not make the move too desperate. I’ll do the move with the lowest foothold I can use while still standing on my tippy toes (other words, this is not a dyno exercise), the highest foothold I can reach (sometimes inverting and going feet out), furthest foothold to the left and to the right (sometimes heel hooks, toe hooks, bicycles), and every foothold in between, with both the left and right leg. Often times the move will not work or feel really awkward, but the idea is by forcing myself to use different footholds, I can come up with creative body position and movement. It also gives me the spatial awareness to know where I need to get my feet in order to reach a handhold a certain distance away. This is especially important for on-sight attempts.

I found this exercise pretty helpful.

Etha Williams · · Somerville, MA · Joined May 2018 · Points: 259
Glowering wrote: As far as ratings go I don't think we should attempt any changes to the current system. Yes it's average us male centric, but that's okay because it's consistent. If you start changing ratings who knows how the rating was changed from ratings of different heights or if the climb is still geared to average male height? As mentioned people will climb in an area for a while to get a sense of the grades in that area, because they may all be sandbags or soft, etc. so again consistency is the most important thing. You can always mentally make the adjustment for yourself. e.g. if you climb at a new area and the nature of the climbing shows reachy moves you make want to mentally think: everything here is likely a number grade harder for my body type. I agree with above that comments are the best way to inform people that climbs may feel different for different types of climbers.
The thing is, cases like what you're describing--where the geology of the cliff means "everything here is likely a number grade harder for my body type"--are (in my limited experience) the exception rather than the norm. Although a lot of responses on this thread are suggesting that I argued that shorter climbers systematically have a harder time, that isn't an argument I've ever been invested in making.

Instead, the very factor that gives these grades consistency for many people around average male height/hand size makes them more inconsistent overall for shorter/smaller climbers. Most of the time routes climb pretty true-to-grade for the style/area, but in my experience occasionally one will be significantly harder or easier due to size differences.

Reading the route description and looking at the climb from the ground can help discern when this will be the case, but it isn't always as informative as one might hope. Stuff like crack size, or adjectives like "reachy" or "scrunchy" in the route description, can be helpful, but they often don't tell the whole story.

For instance, the crack on Beeline (5.7) at Echo Crag is a size that is usually better for me than my larger-handed partners, and if I'm just going off that I might expect it to be soft for the grade for me. However, the crux moves involve moving off a finger lock at the start to a high jug--in my case (IIRC) making an extra move or two through an intermediate jam with somewhat mediocre (for the grade) feet. I had fun climbing it, but if I'd chosen it last year as a 5.6-with-the-occasional-5.7 trad leader hoping that it would be a good route for me to work on breaking into 7's, I might have found it a bit more heads-up than I was hoping for. By contrast, Rhododenderon (5.6) at the Gunks is described as "hands to fists," which initially gave me pause when trying to decide whether to go for an onsight attempt. But thanks to its many face holds and irregularities in the crack, the crack size posed no extra difficulties; in fact, I felt that as a small climber I may have had an advantage on the crux layback (I could imagine taller climbers feeling a bit awkwardly scrunched).

Likewise, for "reachy" moves: I've heard the crux moves on the last pitch of Whitney-Gilman (5.7) described as reachy, and the route description made me a little apprehensive: "At one time the triangular stance held 1 ½ to 2 feet of rock blocks, so you stood much higher, making the crux first moves of the dihedral much easier!" However, I found that the body position, available feet, and positivity of the holds I was reaching for made the reach very doable, and it didn't feel any harder than 5.7 to me. By contrast, it would be hard to describe the 5.6 P2 roof on Drunkard's Delight at the Gunks as "reachy," since there are jugs everywhere; but the shorter climber has to commit to moving her feet off the good holds beneath the roof much sooner than a taller climber (I kind of swam up the crack like an offwidth/squeeze), which I suspect does make the climbing a bit more difficult.

I've named New England routes in the 5.6-7 range because it's within what I comfortably onsight on gear, and I've spent a fair amount of time (arguably too much!) on routes of this grade around here. My point is that it isn't as simple as "look for the crack that gives your tiny hands an advantage" or "avoid routes with long reaches." A big reach might still be doable at the grade for a small climber if the geometry of the rock makes it an easy deadpoint/dyno, while what might appear as a relatively tame reach can be hard if you have poor feet, are forced into a tricky body position, or are reaching for a hold in an orientation that isn't very positive. And unless you are climbing a straight up splitter (sadly rare here in New England), there are many factors in addition to crack size that can influence how the crack climbs.

I've taken to heart the comments in this thread that everyone experiences 5.WTF from time to time, and that coming in with too many expectations can detract from one's ability to be present and problem-solve on the rock. Even though this is a situation that is experienced by short climbers more often than others, it is an experience everyone does have from time to time! I also agree that working on tactics to deal with these kinds of situations--aiding, bail tactics, or just being able to pull harder than you were expecting to--is more useful than spending undue time and energy feeling frustrated by it. Ultimately, the goal is to have fun and get back down safely; anything else is just a bonus. An attitude that you "should' be able to send a route of a given grade is unhelpful mentally, and something I've definitely been guilty of in the past.

But, it's hard for me to agree with the idea that because male-centric grades are what we've ended up with, that's the best we'll ever have, and we should just accept them as is for the sake of "consistency." Maybe expecting an eventual future where women and men contribute equally to consensus grades is unrealistic, but I don't see a reasonable argument that working towards that, even if only incrementally, would be a bad thing. I'd expect most grades to stay the same: height/reach/size is rarely the primary factor influencing movement difficulty. But, in some cases, there'd be big or small changes (there'd probably be a lot more 10+/11- at the Creek as routes like IHC got upgraded and CC got downgraded, hahaha), and I don't see any problem with that.
John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 612
L Kap wrote: That he specifically said your height gives you an advantage on everything you climb since you climb sub V6. Which I don't believe you agree with. Re-read his post. 
Whooooppeeee!  Yeah!  The reason I can't climb all those climbs I can't climb is because of my height!      Now I have a lame excuse just like you!     (Duh)

I understood his point. Perhaps you didn't understand what I said, which is that his statement is a) braggadocio and b) an eye-wateringly unrealistic representation of the actual experience of the vast majority of actual climbers, especially women.

I have NO empathy for this statement since I, and dozens of others, have provided many examples of actual short woman who climb just as hard as most the men.   Of course, you just ignore all that because it doesn't fit your platform.  

Your problem is not your height.

About 10 years ago I hired a professional coach.  He gave me shit about climbing "short".  He said, "Use your height to the best advantage because your weight (on overhanging routes) will defeat you if you don't."   So as I keep saying, it balances out.   So maybe, someday, if you ever get to the point of climbing long overhanging routes, you'll finally realize the advantages you have being short.  Of course with the attitude you have, that will probably never happen.
Dana Bartlett · · CO · Joined Nov 2003 · Points: 890
aikibujin wrote: So all the elitist spraying aside, what are some real ways a short climber can improve and get better? I’m 5’7 wih 0 ape, so not as short as some of you… but sometimes I still run into the reach problem.

Lately I’ve been doing an exercise in the gym where I will repeat a single move on a boulder problem with every foothold in the vicinity of the move that I can possibly use. I start with problem 3-4 grades below my flash grade as to not make the move too desperate. I’ll do the move with the lowest foothold I can use while still standing on my tippy toes (other words, this is not a dyno exercise), the highest foothold I can reach (sometimes inverting and going feet out), furthest foothold to the left and to the right (sometimes heel hooks, toe hooks, bicycles), and every foothold in between, with both the left and right leg. Often times the move will not work or feel really awkward, but the idea is by forcing myself to use different footholds, I can come up with creative body position and movement. It also gives me the spatial awareness to know where I need to get my feet in order to reach a handhold a certain distance away. This is especially important for on-sight attempts.

I found this exercise pretty helpful.

As the saying goes, good on you. I haven't tried it, but it seems as if in many ways it would be very helpful. It would certainly be positive reinforcement for using creative problem solving and for encouraging persistence.  Most of us like to think we have  good technique but personally speaking, missing the best solution happens more often than I realize.

Etha Williams · · Somerville, MA · Joined May 2018 · Points: 259
Eric Chabot wrote:

How you frame the difficulty of the route in your mind is so so key to success it's unbelievable.

OP, be cautious about the attitude of this post. If you think that v6 (or 12a or 10c or whatever grade) is hard, it will be hard. If you think it will be a challenge but do-able for you, you are much more likely to achieve it. There are many, many (short) women I see absolutely crushing v6 at the gym and on the boulders (and i don't see them on the campus board). I would describe all of them as recreational climbers (not including puccio haha). Performance oriented? For sure, but recreational yes.

Our different attitudes and expectations are created by our own experiences but also by the attitudes of the people we choose to spend time with. If you surround yourself with partners who don't focus on the grade just on the climb, or those who don't feel limited to what they are currently capable of doing, you will have an easier time improving. If you surround yourself with people who engage in self-limiting mental talk you will self-limit. If you surround yourself with people who climb 5.12 / 5.13 where 5.11 is the warm up, then 5.11 will become your warm up. We are the average of the 10 people we spend the most time with.

So maybe it would be helpful to climb with some stronger/more psyched people? Strong people will be psyched to climb with you if you a) are psyched and try hard b) are a good belayer c) are not looking for free guiding, i.e., you climb your own routes and don't expect anyone to hang/retrieve your draws.

Last bit of mental/tactical advice, be patient with yourself. Don't try to skip the process of becoming better. If 'beginner' routes (ie 5.11 and under) feel challenging, then maybe there are some movement skills and mental tactics that would be beneficial to work on until they feel smooth. Dynos are a skill. Using tiny feet is a skill. Using small crimps is a skill. Using slopers is definitely a skill.

Sorry if calling 5.11 a beginner grade sounds elitist, it is just a mental tactic that I use to make it feel easier for myself because I am so tall and heavy that it is hard for me ;) . And for most of the men and women, short and tall that I climb with, 5.11 is easy. But you are on your own journey with respect to your climbing performance. Learning to climb well is a craft with many facets and takes years of practice to approach mastery. So above all else be patient with yourself.

All that said if you are not performance oriented and just want to have fun on the rock (as L Kap sounds like she is based on her other posts) more power to you and that is awesome! I used to climb with an older fellow (still in his prime physically) who had never trad climbed harder than 5.8 or 5.9. Performance climbing just wasn't his thing and he didn't like to try hard. He had stayed at that level for 20 years of climbing and had a great time doing long moderates and alpine routes. He was fine with that and it meant he was a great partner for certain types of climbing days.

PS did you get back on millenium falcon?

Thanks! I appreciate your comments here and earlier about the mental aspect of progressing in one's climbing ability. The point about needing both a positive attitude and patience/realism is a really good one. I think for a while I confused a positive attitude with trying to skip steps and ended up getting frustrated on stuff that was sometimes over my head. Not ultimately very productive!

As far as my own goals, I think I fall somewhere in between performance oriented and just wanting to have fun. Pushing the difficulty of climbing movement isn't something I naturally gravitate towards as my main goal in climbing. For a variety of reasons (some that I'm happy with, some that I'd like to work on), I'm more comfortable pushing myself mentally (doing something a little scary) than physically (doing something where I have to try hard). But, there are routes that I would love to climb that are outside what I'd be comfortable/capable doing at my current ability, and I'd like to improve enough to eventually get on those. Honestly, if I could comfortably climb long trad routes with multiple pitches of solid 10 climbing, I'd probably be pretty happy. Maybe when I eventually get there, I'll have different ideas :)

Haven't gotten back on Millenium Falcon, but hopefully soon!
Etha Williams · · Somerville, MA · Joined May 2018 · Points: 259
dragons wrote: Super beta, thanks! We've been planning to get to Longstack, but we got rained out last time we tried.

See, this kind of beta is what I want to see in the comments. I see that you did leave a comment on the route. I guess you didn't want to divulge as much info there for fear of spoiling it for people, but really no one has to read the comments if they don't want beta. I dislike protecting mid-crux; I get scared that I'm going to fall because I'm not fast enough at putting in pro before I might fall. I almost never protect mid-crux unless I can move up, fiddle, and then retreat safely to a better stance. Now that I see your beta, I'd probably still try to lead this, but I'd be looking for options to make sure I could retreat at the crux.
You should totally go for it! I thought it was a ton of fun. If you decide the crux isn't for you, there's good gear under the roof you can bail off. A little more beta:, it's easy to make the roof a lot harder by going too far left. If you aren't reaching up to a horizontal mega-jug, you're off route. (I initially started up the wrong way, and briefly tried to convince myself that "maybe this would be 5.6 with more reach?" before retreating in search of a better option.) Since you won't actually be able to see above the roof when you're up there, looking at it from the ground beforehand might be helpful--IIRC, you can see the critical hold pretty clearly from the ground.


BTW the slab route Bison Burger at Rumney sounds similar to Coyote Rain, in that it has a hidden hold which you won't see until you're mid crux - at least as a short person, that was my experience. You can step up, check it out, and back down. Last time I was there, I made the mistake of just going for it without the inspection because I'd done it clean before. I flubbed the move, and fell. It was the scariest fall I ever took, but I survived uninjured.

Yeah, I dimly remember this! It is the eponymous burger-shaped hold, right?

june m · · elmore, vt · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 42

Its just a question of using a different sequence.  I tend not to read route  descriptions esp for single pitch. I have climbed  many routes that are supposed to  be harder for  short people and have not had a problem with them because I didn't know they were supposed to be harder for short people. 

Glowering · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 5
Yes, with about the same amount of utility in response to the OP's question 
So directly quoting the OP question and giving strategies wasn't of utility? Thanks.

I can't quite tell if you're serious, but I'll assume so. I respectfully disagree with you on the Lynn Hill mantra. "If she can do it, I can do it"? 
I'm serious. I'm not saying you say to yourself: I could free climb the Nose like Lynn Hill. I'm saying you say to yourself: Lynn Hill is short and she kicks ass and I can too, she could probably do this climb I'm doing and I'll emulate what I think her strategy would be to do it. It's inspiration and belief based on the abilities of a similarly statured person. Of course that's all summarized by the words "Lynn Hill". :-)

People tell me over and over again that it's all about technique below 5.12. 
Maybe you could say without good technique it will be hard to climb 5.12 or above. But a huge part of being able to climb harder is body weight to grip strength (for face climbing it's relatively more important and for crack climbing it's more technique). What typically happens when you peel? Your forearms give out. All the time you can see young light kids in the gym climb pretty hard with very little experience because it's so easy for them to hang on. I can tell when I'm off the couch (after say a winter of no climbing) how weak I am compared to just a few sessions on a hangboard or climbing I'm capable of harder and I'm climbing ratings below 5.12. As far as weight training although I think it definitely helps (e.g. upper body strength for pull up type moves) but climbing harder is very focused on grip strength and probably very few people (outside of climbers) train for that.

The other thing you (not you personally but in general) can do to climb harder is lose weight. Ondra is 150 lbs at 6'1". Shiraishi is 88 lbs! That's where I will always be at a disadvantage, I have a heavy frame. My ideal BMI will be about 10% higher than a typical frame person. Luckily I never dreamed of being a world class climber because it would be extra tough for me. However for say ski racing or American Football I'd have an advantage. Like being shorter it's nothing I can change. Of course I could be in better shape and be lighter (like most of us) but my floor will be a little higher than some.

Ultimately, the goal is to have fun and get back down safely; anything else is just a bonus. An attitude that you "should' be able to send a route of a given grade is unhelpful mentally, and something I've definitely been guilty of in the past. 
Great thoughts. Some people complain that others number chase and they would like to do away with ratings. For me I like the utility of ratings. Ratings in a guide book say to me: the average climber thinks this is rated 5.X so it's probably a good challenge for me, but it may or may not actually be that hard for me personally because ratings are subjective.

Maybe expecting an eventual future where women and men contribute equally to consensus grades is unrealistic 
A great majority of the most popular climbs that will ever be were rated 20 plus years ago when they had their FA. e.g. most moderates in the Gunks or Yosemite. It would be a huge fight against the wind to change anything systematically. At best I think climbs with obviously incorrect ratings (sandbagged, broken holds, etc.) MAY be updated, if we're lucky. I think the best "comments" or beta I've heard are the type of for under 5'6" its a 5.10 crux, for under 5'9" it's 5.9, and for 5'10" and above it's 5.8. That's where the beauty of a crowd source resource like MP is so helpful instead of the old printed guide book with one or a few authors.

On another note:
It would be interesting to see how often being shorter than average makes a climb's crux harder.
I would make a stab in the dark ballpark GUESS (this would be easier for someone shorter than me) that for all climbs in the US:
Less than 5% would be basically impossible due to height. There are some harder climbs that just require a certain reach. I'd guess a lot of reachy easier e.g. <5.10 climbs could be done by a shorter person with different techniques, but something that's say 5.13 and requires a long reach for a single available hold will require a certain height.
Maybe 10-30% of climbs the crux will be harder with a shorter reach. e.g. 5.10 for an average height male, 5.11 for someone under 5'7".

And that is just for the single crux move. Being shorter could make many other moves on a reachy climb a little harder as well.

A good thing is that on easier ratings (under 5.12) probably most of us can improve our climbing much more thru improved technique and strength than our inherent body limitations may cause us. e.g. my heavy frame may mean I can could only currently climb 5.10 instead of 5.11. So only a single number rating difference. But if I really worked on my strength, technique, and body fat I could climb 5.13. Three number ratings higher.

5.12 as a beginner rating

I would say 5.12 is a beginner rating for climbs in the hard category.
Meaning that 5.0 to 5.5/5.6 are true beginner ratings / beginner category. Something that an total beginner could get on and hope to have the correct level of challenge.
5.6 to 5.10/.11 are in intermediate category (remember 5.9 was originally meant to be the top of the scale). Something that usually requires some experience.
5.11/5.12 to 5.15 is advanced or "hard climbing". Most people would require a fair amount of experience to reach that level. Also I would say that 5.12 is probably the level that most people with different body types could get to with proper training and experience (and if they started young enough). To climb 5.13 and above you are looking at less and less people genetically predisposed to be able to climb that hard. When you get to 5.15d there is 1 person with the training/experience/body type able to do it.

So if you are hanging with a crew that climbs hard climbs. i.e. 5.12 and above. 5.12 (maybe upper 5.11 too) is that base level of hard climbing. So that's what people are warming up on and what the lower level "beginners" in the group are working on.
Glowering · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 5

And on another another note:

I just thought about the variability in climbing grades. (e.g. ratings = 5.9, vs. grade = grade VI is a 3 more more day big wall). Grades are typically given more latitude when it comes to them being subjective. They say Grade VI is a big wall climb that takes an average party 3 or more days to climb. The Nose is a Grade VI. But Tommy and Alex did it in under 2 hours. (still mind blowing). People don't give a second thought to Grades being an rough idea of the length / time required for a climb. While ratings seems to imply a more definitive / objective measurement of a climb.

dragons · · MWV, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 752
John Byrnes wrote:2) Later that week I did Astroman.  As I remember the Harding Slot is rated 5.8+ and my partner (5'7") squirmed right up it.

Grade inflation, perhaps, but MP says the Harding Slot (P6) is 10+ (SuperTopo indicates the same):

The Slot is the key to route. Be ready for it which means having someone who can lead 5.10 squeeze and get through the baffling entry moves. Some parties which had been cruising up to that point bail after being stymied by the entry moves. There are some great pitches above the slot and just because one move is giving you fits is no reason not to experience them; if need be, aid a couple moves and press on.
11b, 60'. 
dragons · · MWV, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 752
aikibujin wrote: Lately I’ve been doing an exercise in the gym where I will repeat a single move on a boulder problem with every foothold in the vicinity of the move that I can possibly use.

That sounds like a good thing to do. I don't boulder (maybe I should, but I'm worried about landing wrong and getting injured). I've done something similar when top-roping outdoors. If you lead a route and then top rope the crap out of it, you can try to use a slightly different set of holds every time. I've found this very instructive in gaining confidence with my feet, in any case.

dragons · · MWV, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 752
Etha Williams wrote: You should totally go for it! I thought it was a ton of fun. If you decide the crux isn't for you, there's good gear under the roof you can bail off. A little more beta:, it's easy to make the roof a lot harder by going too far left. If you aren't reaching up to a horizontal mega-jug, you're off route. (I initially started up the wrong way, and briefly tried to convince myself that "maybe this would be 5.6 with more reach?" before retreating in search of a better option.) Since you won't actually be able to see above the roof when you're up there, looking at it from the ground beforehand might be helpful--IIRC, you can see the critical hold pretty clearly from the ground.

Yeah, I dimly remember this! It is the eponymous burger-shaped hold, right?

Etha,

A question regarding Coyote Rain. Every time I've looked at it, I thought "probably" I can do this. But there's this one photo on MP which gives me pause:

"Jimbo" is standing on a little ledge and then I assume he's going to move up over the roof here. That actually looks pretty hard to me... is he really in the right spot? Was the roof that far above your head? All the other photos make it look lower/doable.

Re Bison Burger, hm, there's a hold you can grab lower down which I guess you might call burger-shaped. That is clearly visible from the bolt below. There's a crack above the "roof" that I can't see from below. I can't see it until I pull myself up by the burger hold, and I'm up above my last pro. When onsighting, you won't know the crack's there until after you pull up on the burger hold, which makes it kind of a mental challenge ("it must be doable, it's a 5.7, even though that move looks tough". Yeah, I do think that way almost all the time lol!).
Bryce Adamson · · Torrington, CT · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 1,102

Short and tall climbers, if you keep a personal tick list or route pyramid do you input the consensus grade or your personal grade? I always use the guidebook or consensus grade, even if I suggest something different on here, but curious what others do.

Etha, I think you may have been psyching yourself out on the Drunkard's roof. Climbing it like an offwidth/squeeze sounds like it would be really hard!

John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 612
dragons wrote:

Grade inflation, perhaps, but MP says the Harding Slot (P6) is 10+ (SuperTopo indicates the same):

The entire pitch is rated 10+ (or 11-) because of the entry moves.  The Slot itself is rated 5.8+ which is accurate for the "average" climber.

Cpn Dunsel · · Over There, But Well Hidden · Joined Jan 2003 · Points: 30
John Byrnes wrote:

The entire pitch is rated 10+ (or 11-) because of the entry moves.  The Slot itself is rated 5.8+ which is accurate for the "average" climber.

What is the fourth move off the belay on the 6th pitch rated?
What is it rated if one is gassy that day?

dragons · · MWV, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 752
june m wrote:..I tend not to read route  descriptions esp for single pitch. I have climbed  many routes that are supposed to  be harder for  short people and have not had a problem with them because I didn't know they were supposed to be harder for short people. 

Do you really think you didn't have a problem with these routes because you didn't know that? Or, maybe you're just a really good, advanced climber? (PS June, if you ever need a partner in the vicinity of Conway NH, feel free to message me; I live about 20-25 minutes away from Whitehorse and Cathedral. I am not so very advanced, though.)

John - looks like Harding Slot would be an offwidth for me lol.
Señor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

I sometimes climb with a woman who is your exact height. She's a former pro climber (not Lynn Hill!) but those days are well in her past. However, she's an amazing climber still. I frequently watch her make reachy moves that I cannot even come close to making, and I'm about 8 inches taller and much longer arms. When I asked her advice on this she said, "It's all about body tension, positioning and finding ALL off the length and reach you have."

We all work with the body we were given. I think her advice applies to all of us quite well. 

dragons · · MWV, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 752

Señor Arroz, Is it possible for you to give an example of one spot (maybe with a photo) where this woman can reach something that you cannot? I would like to see it. It helps to see an example.

If she's shorter than you, what does she actually do to reach the hold which you are not reaching in spite of your greater height? I believe you're not trolling me, but you have to admit that the claim seems a bit far-fetched. I'd really like to see it. "It's all about body tension, positioning and finding ALL off the length and reach you have." - this is so oracle-like   Did she say this to you while perched on the mountaintop?

This is one of the reasons I started videotaping myself. I want to do a frame-by-frame comparison with my taller partner to see what I'm doing differently. What works for me vs him, and how to repeat it.

Stephen C · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0
dragons wrote: If she's shorter than you, what does she actually do to reach the hold which you are not reaching in spite of your greater height? I believe you're not trolling me, but you have to admit that the claim seems a bit far-fetched. I'd really like to see it. "It's all about body tension, positioning and finding ALL off the length and reach you have." - this is so oracle-like   Did she say this to you while perched on the mountaintop?

the ability to lock off goes a long way. If you can lock off at your waist you'd be surprised how long your reach gets. My functional reach is significantly longer than many much taller climbers that I see and know.

Señor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Dragons, Stephen C's post is exactly right. I don't have photos of a specific spot but all the places I've run into it with her were at the gym on extremely overhanging terrain, essentially a 5.11b or c roof. I turn into a sad, slouching sack of fear and dread in those spots. I fell off a couple times and declared that the next hold was just TOO far out of reach and that the setters must have been out of their minds. She just casually cruised up to the same exact spot, held herself close to the roof with body tension, shifted her weight a bit forward and EASILY reached out and held on to something I couldn't get near to despite significantly longer legs, body and arms.

Bear in mind, she's an infinitely better climber than I will ever be, has a better strength to weight ratio and is a master of technique.

My only point is that it's easy to complain about handicaps that we can't change like height (I'm not tall by any means) but it's more fruitful to focus on the things we have agency over, like technique.

FWIW, that's Daniel Woods, not me, in the picture below. But this is one of the spots I'm talking about! He's short, too, and never seems to have trouble reaching things. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
Post a Reply to "Grades, information-gathering, and leading near…"

Log In to Reply