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Am I too tall? (Or is this a weight question in disguise? Will MP make a pinata of me?)

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bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 13

The background: I'm a shade over 6 feet and 185 pounds, been climbing 20 years. I redpointed my first 12a's after 4 years of climbing, and got to V6 bouldering pretty soon after (outside, i mean). I plateaued at 12a for a few years before life events (3 kids, marriage, aging, excuses, being soft) dropped me back to mid 5-11 sport, though i still climb V6s.

The problem: When I moved to Bend 5-6 years into my climbing, I noticed all my partners were 5-10 and under. Then I learned almost all these guys knew each other because they were guides. (I felt weak all the time) Thought about the height thing, figured it was a fluke or anomaly. Now back in Portland I notice almost my partners are under 5-10. It literally feels like the shorter my partners are, the harder they climb.

The question: Is it literally harder to climb if you are tall? (say, over 5-10). Up front, I totally think it HELPS to be tall up to maybe 5-11a or so, but after that being able to reach far between good holds isn't going to get you up the route, and the extra weight that comes with height is now a liability

Anyway, validate me (tell me you're "not tall" and crush, and all your friends are also "not tall" and crush,) or else tell me to buck up and quit whining (but only if you're tall). I've gotten discouraged lately that my height is getting in my way on certain crux moves, and wondering if that's just negative thinking or actually kind of a fact. Anyone else feel the same way? Do shorter monkeys climb better than taller monkeys?

P.S. My friend randomly sport climbed next to Honnold outside Vegas for a few routes last week and when I asked if Alex as my height - he's usually the first example of a tall climber that i hear when I ask about any tall climbers (RIP Dean) - and he said no way, they were the same height (5-10). Huh. So there's that, don't Honnold me.

Mark Roberts · · Vancouver, BC · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 1,138

Adam Ondra is 6'1".

Tony Redford · · Abbotsford, BC · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 170
Dylan Demyanek · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 2,485

In general, I think that being tall is still an advantage at least up into 5.13 territory and as Mark says, Adam Ondra is over 6 foot. In general, height is not a limiting factor for climbing 5.12. However, strength and your BMI matter quite a lot for climbing harder grades. I have to break it to you, but your height isn't what is holding you back. 

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

The perfect height for a climber is 2 inches taller! end of story.  never met a climber who would for real trade their extra reach for mine.. 

bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 13
Dylan Demyanek wrote: In general, I think that being tall is still an advantage at least up into 5.13 territory and as Mark says, Adam Ondra is over 6 foot. In general, height is not a limiting factor for climbing 5.12. However, strength and your BMI matter quite a lot for climbing harder grades. I have to break it to you, but your height isn't what is holding you back. 

I'm hoping to hear from people 6 feet and up who send 5-12 and 5-13. All the people I've met who climb those grades are under 6 feet. Just looking for validation or refutation of that, maybe. But honestly I'll drop names of hard Oregon climbers I have seen in person who are nowhere near 6 feet. Alan Watts, Ryan Palo, Gary Rall, Micah Klesick, Mark Deffenbaugh, Tom Scales, Dave Sowerby, Jim Ablao, Aaron Webb, Wil Nazarian, Matt Spohn, Jeff Walker, Jason from WA who put up some 12s at Ozone,  Mikey Shaefer from Fre Solo doing 13s at Trout Creek and Viento and I think he''s maybe under 5-6? I have no list of hard Oregon climbers over 6 feet. (Tim Olson might be 6 foot?) Oregon climbers help me out here.

Carl Schneider · · Adelaide, South Australia · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

Oh it's all about pulleys and levers, IMHO. Not only overall height and weight as well but how long limbs and individual parts of limbs are.  Plus genetics of course.  look at Alex Megos, skinny little legs, light (57 kilos or something) but full of muscle with MASSIVE pecs too; I've never seen a climber with such large pecs.  

Anyway, regardless, what are you going to do if you ARE too tall?  Give up climbing?  If the question was "Am I too fat to climb" and the answer was "Yes" you could do something about it, but there's not a lot you can do if the answer is "Yes" to your particular question.   

Be happy with what you can climb. Maybe push a little if you want to, but don't get disheartened.  I get very depressed at times about my own perceived lack of ability. I started climbing at 50 and have been climbing for 8 years, so I sometimes feel age is a barrier (and if it is i can't do anything about that). I also snapped my long head biceps tendon in BOTH arms and have tendinosis and bursitis.  This all led to the question of "Am I too old and fucked up to climb?".  Answer was "No". However, am I going to climb anything harder than a V4 and a grade 23 sports in the future? Probably not. Am I still having fun? Yes, most days, if I allow myself to just have fun rather than questioning myself and my ability constantly.

Nick Niebuhr · · Asheville · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 465

Ape index is what you should be concerned with. Are you a gorilla or a T rex?

Matt N · · Santa Barbara, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 404

You must be less than 5'12" to climb 5.12

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

The Op is 6ft and 185. its  a weight thing.  not a height thing. some of the  elite MMA fighters  are 6-1 and 140 lbs.  I am 5.9 and 185. Old and fat..  My shodan test I was 20 something years old and ripped @ 160 lbs  but still carrying too much weight to be an elite sport climber.    I could probably be a pretty decent old climber if I lost 20 lbs and stayed injury free... 

mat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 6
the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115

Being very tall is not ideal, and I am only 5’6” (though my ability is at chuffer level), but I personally know two guys who are over 6’5” and have sent .13. I also had a regular partner who was 6’2” and 140 lbs. He was very strong. 

bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 13
Tony Redford wrote: https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/117347945/grades-information-gathering-and-leading-near-your-limit-as-a-shorttallnon-avera 

A long thread on short vs. tall that you'll wish you never started reading. :)

When I'm ready to conk out tonight I'll start in on this. Probably even commented on it 10 times but forgot. 

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115

Additionally, if you boulder legit v6, you should be able to reliably send .12+. 

bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 13

First impression of feedback. Some people are tall AND climb hard BUT they are EXTREMELY thin.

Therefore: Shorter people tend to be less heavy than taller people, so there is an inherent advantage to being short because you are light. (And this more than makes up for relative lack of reach)

shredward · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

I am 6'5" and I agree with your assessment that it helps up until about mid 11's.  I am not a 5.12 climber so I cant really speak to how it affects .12's and above.  

bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 13
the schmuck wrote: Additionally, if you boulder legit v6, you should be able to reliably send .12+. 

Totally different subject (and kinda true, I agree) but i worked for those 6s (some over multiple days, not just a session) and I've never gotten into projecting routes. I sent all my 12a routes in well under  5 tries. I never got into projecting once i found trad and developing routes. 

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 217


The strongest climber in the world is taller than you.  Stop making excuses.
Artem Vasilyev · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 105
bryans wrote: First impression of feedback. Some people are tall AND climb hard BUT they are EXTREMELY thin.

Therefore: Shorter people tend to be less heavy than taller people, so there is an inherent advantage to being short because you are light. (And this more than makes up for relative lack of reach)

Maybe cut the post climb (and regular) beer out of your diet then ;)


Difficult sacrifices must be made to appease the climbing gods!
Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 290

You didn't really climb 5.12, for people over 5'11" that route is 5.10

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 1,145
https://cdn-uploads.mountainproject.com/forum/124202.jpg

Ya gotta work with what you've got. That's my hand (4'11") on the hand of a climber way taller than you. I will say, I think being on the way too short side is easier than the far too tall end, for life in general, but, so what, for climbing. It simply is.

Best of luck to both of us! I highly doubt I'll be on 5.12 ever....but, I am generally game to try anything a rope gun puts up, on top rope, so who knows? Besides, I'm willing to climb ice, so that puts me in elite badassery territory. Or nuts.

Best, Helen
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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