/ Technique Question - Height

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climber007 - on 07 Feb 2013
Hi,

I have a question on technique.

On say, the last hold of a climb, the hold can be just out of my reach. However, when my taller climbing partner climbs up the same climb, he can simply reach up and grab it.

Is there anything the shorter person can do to reach the hold?

Thank you
In reply to climber007: Climb higher
GridNorth - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007: As one famous short climber answered when asked what he did when he could not reach a hold: "I climb up to it".
yeti on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:

does make the grading system a farce...
Sarah G on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:
Use your feet!

Sx
GridNorth - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to yeti:
> (In reply to climber007)
>
> does make the grading system a farce...

Not really otherwise you would have to have several grades for each climb to accommodate differing body shapes. I agree thought that there are times when a move is harder for the short but there are also times when a move is harder for the tall so it averages out which is exactly what grading is about. It's a rough indicator not a precise measurement.
ericinbristol - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:

Technique is your friend
- Find a sidepull and lever up (sometimes combined with a foot on the same side pushing off
- Flag your foot out to one side, twist your hips and reach with the hand opposite the flagged foot. Twisting your hips adds lots to your reach.
- Be dynamic: drop your hips and throw to the hold, catching it at the deadpoint when you are going neither up nor down. If the hold is sloping or otherwise poor, the way to stay on it is to have your hips moving straight up not out to in.
- Use higher smaller footholds or just smears.
- Push off the heel of your lower hand with that arm straight
etc.
JIMBO on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:
I feel sorry for tall people because they miss out om the best moves...
millsy - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:

Your giving us shortys a bad name here!

Get stronger!? Try harder?!

Many moves are tough for tall people too; more weight-harder to keep core in-longer levers to engage.

This is the beauty of climbing-different for everyone. Embrace it.
jkarran - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:

Reach further: Sounds facetious but isn't meant to. There's lots of extra height to be had by stretching out your calves then rotating your hips and shoulders.

Climb up to it: Work your feet a little higher, maybe not on the best holds but you only need them for a few seconds. Try some different handholds and be creative, holds like jams and undercuts can give you a lot of reach.

Jump: It may only be a case of a little momentum making the move easier or it could be a balls out jump, it's still sometimes easier than making the stretch.

jk
Jon Stewart - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to yeti)
> [...]
>
> Not really otherwise you would have to have several grades for each climb to accommodate differing body shapes. I agree thought that there are times when a move is harder for the short but there are also times when a move is harder for the tall so it averages out

I'm not convinced it does average out at all. There are loads of times - particularly on grit - when being able to reach the next hold makes a climb immeasurably easier, but the number of 'easier for the short' routes can be counted on one hand. In fact the only ones I can think of now are Mincer, and a reputably a couple with desperate mantels - King Kong and Stormbringer.

Yes, I know Johnny Doors is short, but it's not relevant as his other skills (particularly his dynamic climbing style combined with extreme boldness) far outweighed any disadvantage from his height.

Different on other rock types that offer small intermediate holds though where being short is a less convincing excuse.
Pero - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007: Re climbing being easier if you're tall, someone I was speaking to recently summed it up perfectly:

It's easier (when you're tall) until it gets harder!
stevieb - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to Pero: Many moves are easier if you are tall.
All moves are easier if you are light.
Average weight difference between 5'5" and 6'4" is about 4 stone.
So short climbers, you don't know how lucky you are.
GridNorth - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007: Being able to "lock off" low down and having a good "ape factor" are far more useful than outright height.
Philip on 08 Feb 2013
Jump.
In reply to Jon Stewart: Ah, but reach is quite heavy, so one may as well use it. I agree with you in general though, especially on grit.
antdav - on 08 Feb 2013
I've been on a few routes where a reachy move makes the grade significantly harder for the short.

In general, i've found shorter climbers learn how to climb with good technique much earlier than tall climbers, who tend not to need to climb with good footwork or shifting their hips until a good few grades harder.

Learning good technique later in a climbing career is harder as it'll be based on smaller holds and having a big frame to hang off them.
pork pie girl - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: agree with this... it doesn't average out at all.. nowhere near

in saying that i don't think shoret people shoudl sue their height as an excuse and it does require more creativity in reaching hold somtimes... it's a good thing often as it means oyu get to do more moves.. but when climbing grades at you limit or when wanting to push into a new grade i would always avoid routes that are described as reachy.. as i would have enough to contend with without having to do a shed load more moves.

i don't agree with the thing about taller people's weight putting them at a disadvantage... if i compared the length and size of say for example my biceps with a 6ft+ bloke biceps he would have a hell of a lot more muscle .. so with height comes usually a stronger frame and greater amount of muscle (even in a relatively skinny bloke)



i think if you have excess weight then that would out you at a disadvantage.
pork pie girl - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to GridNorth: agree
mkean - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to pork pie girl:
i don't agree with the thing about taller people's weight putting them at a disadvantage... if i compared the length and size of say for example my biceps with a 6ft+ bloke biceps he would have a hell of a lot more muscle .. so with height comes usually a stronger frame and greater amount of muscle (even in a relatively skinny bloke)

Not being funny but try being a taller person! That massive jug you've just stretched for may be by my head but it is a two tip pocket for me ;-)

The weight increase for taller people is actually quite large without any additional increase in muscle mass. As a lanky person I'm carrying a lot of extra skeletal mass plus all the other associated rubbish which doesn't benefit strength. The height weight relationship is something like X^2.5 so a bit of extra height adds a lot of extra weight.
Also all my limbs are longer levers and not in an advantageous way, as you increase the length of the forearm the distance from the elbow to the bicep attatchment doesn't increase at the same rate so I'm at a mechanical disadvantage before you even look at moving that excess body weight. Long arms are great for swinging hammers but pretty useless for doing lockoffs!


Ever noticed how a disproportionate number of competitors in strengh events are short? While I don't want to stray into the correllation=causation trap just look at the heights of top climbers, I suspect you'll find that the average high of high performing climbers is below the national average.

The vast majority of shorter climbers I speak to who say "everything is easier for the tall" tend to rely too much on power and not enough on body position and cunning footwork. I think in the long run it all tends to balance out.
Fraser on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to pork pie girl:

FWIW, I remember in an interview/blog piece by Dave Mcleod a few years back, he felt things were slightly easier if you were a 'shorter' climber than a taller one. Quite where that cut off point was however wasn't clear!
notgnarly - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:

To OP I'm 5'5" other than general technique as posted by others some specific things to train and think about.
Mantels: On slabs and vertical walls you can mantel the hold so that your weight is centered above the hand pushing down and locked off the hold. Keep this balance and reach up with the other hand. You'll be surprised how small or thin a hold you can do this on.

Hip flexibility:
If you have the hip flexibility being smaller will allow you to compress more, this will allow you to use higher foot holds. It's quite a strong move. If the hold is about waist level you can use your foot like a bat and hook the top of your toes on the hold with the knee pointing down

Different hand grips.
As other posters have mentioned using the holds as sidepulls and underclings will extend your reach (in conjunction with an appropriate body position). Most of us naturally climb using holds in a straight down manner, learn to use holds in differing ways so these ways becomes natural. Engage your thumb, for example on underclings you can use your thumb on the outside to give you a stronger grip.

Smearing.
From school physics lessons friction is proportional to the normal force (i.e. force at 90 degrees to the surface) so when smearing push directly into the sureface. Also the more rubber you keep in contact with the surface the greater the friction you will get from your shoe. Good ankle flexibility will allow you to keep your heels down as you reach up for the next hold. If you find that you do raise your heel when reaching up push harder with the remainder of the rubber that is in contact. Similarly if your foot starts to slip push harder to arrest the slipping.

Dynoing or jumping.
This is composed of 2 parts, generating the push and latching the hold. Being able to latch the hold is sometimes called contact strength and is the ability to grasp a hold with maximum strength "on contact."
Exercise 4 from this link http://www.nicros.com/training/articles/top-5-finger-strength-training-exercises-2/ "4. Feet-on Lunging Exercises" is a good skills focused training exercise

Stone Muppet - on 08 Feb 2013
This easier harder malarky is a red herring.

Many things make climbers climb at higher or lower grades. Nature, nurture, efficiency of muscles, weight, inherent coordination, climbing partners, social expectations, inherent motivation ... some are just more inclined to try harder than others!

I think climbers at either end of the spectrum just find grades less reliable as an indicator of difficulty. Does a tall climber find an E4 disproportionately easy because they can reach the jug? Or do they find all other E4s disproportionately hard because they don't have the strength of most other E4 climbers?

You could say something similar for the short as well.

To the OP who had a sensible question, sorry, I can't help you with that :)
alx - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007: try harder

If you don't get that you will resign your sorry self to climbing grade x because of height y as such you will never achieve anything.

Smear, press, jump, lock off that lower hold like it owes you money.

I'm 6ft4, I plateaued at a higher grade than a shorter person. The shorter peeps plateaued earlier at lower grades but once they got past their hang ups they are flying. I had to learn the skills they did later, once I had engrained all the wrong ways to do things..

Weight for us tallies is a big problem also, muscles grow but joints and tendons have limits.
yeti on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:

and... us tall'uns have to have more strength to use a longer arm

leverage and all that, but i'd hate to give up the reach, erm and i'll agree with the comments about not developing technique other than a bit of thuggery
Goucho on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to alx: I'm just over 6'2", with around a +11" ape index, and my fighting weight was usually around 12 stone.

I have to say, that apart from chimneys, and certain types of off width arm cracks, and the occasional roof problem where long legs make turning the lip awkward, I've always considered my reach a BIG advantage.

Of course, us lanky buggers need this reach advantage because we don't have the power to weight advantage of shorty's :-)

Giles Davis - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:

Amazed at some of the "short person syndrome" answers from some people on this thread. I'm tall (6ft 4ins) and will never know what it's like to be short, likewise you short people trying to make out that tall people have it much more easy will never know what it's like to be tall . . . . . therefore, the grades even themselves out in the end.

Yes, tall people have a longer reach and it does help sometimes but short people have much lower centres of gravity and you can therefore place you hands and feet much closer together without your backside (and centre of gravity) pulling you off the rock making some moves easier for you.

For all those people wishing they were a bit taller . . . . . . I can assure you most tall people (myself included) wish we were shorter!!

GridNorth - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007: The other advantages of being shorter are: better strength to weight ratio, at least better for less effort. Locking off low down is easier and sometimes under roofs it easier for a short person to get their foot higher, certainly in relationship to their body to achieve better leverage and mechanical advantage. None of this is scientific on my part of course but the fact that the majority of the best climbers are well under 6 foot must say something. Unless of course it's over compensation for an inferiority complex. Just kidding :-)
1step2far - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007: In reply to the original OP there is nothing more demoralizing. It took me ages to see any improvement in my climbing and then just when I thought I was doing well some lanky so and so who had just started out would breeze up it! Gah!

As many have said learning good technique, smearing and if it comes to it jumping you will make some gains! I've taken my time and worked on my technique and, as that and my strength have improved I'm making progress... all be it slow!
alx - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007: sorry to hijack this thread but core strength and beng able to move my body around at the limits of my span opened up the harder stuff that had always eluded me. Being tall might mean you can reach it, it doesn't mean you can move off it! Adversity will make you stronger and more inventive as long as you keep at it.
Stone Muppet - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to alx:
> Adversity will make you stronger and more inventive as long as you keep at it.

That's bang on, what ever end of the body shape spectrum you're at.
spearing05 - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007: On an indoor route a few weeks back a sorter partner bailed a he was not able to reach the next hold and said 'you'll sail past that'. Sure enough when I got they're I could reach the hold from the position he was in but was totally unable to move using it. After several attempts I learned not to use my height but rather work my way up (into an awkward scrunched up position) and come at the hold from the other side.

It's true being tall does help and I sometimes wander how I would have done a particular move if I was shorter but then you watch a short person do the route and the bit I've just used reach and thuggery to get through they make look easy with flowing smooth moves. :-(
Andy Stephenson - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007: As a 6'3" (ex) climber, let me put it like this. If I was magically able to choose a body height before going out for a day's climbing at any random spot, I'd go for 5'10". I think that says it all.

I've always found certain styles of move particularly hard due to long legs and arms. Perhaps top of the list are dicey mantleshelf moves, notably ones around the lip of an overhang. Yes, I can reach the holds, as can a shorter person: but what advantage do you gain when having to get feet attached to long legs onto a narrow flat hold? And wide cracks tend to be more often harder than easier. And you need a bit more strength to overcome the extra weight. Occasionally there's a route with only one hard move, where I can use a long reach to make it easier. But that's about it for advantages.
Lizzz - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:

So out of interest, what heights would people consider to be 'tall' and 'short'?

At an almighty 5'2" I always find it a bit odd when people talk about someone who's 5'7" or 8" being short.

In answer to the OPs question though... sometimes the only answer is to jump, and the big problem really is bravery rather than height.
quiffhanger - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to Fuerteman: yep. When a short person cant reach something it's v obvious (a discrete binary result). When a tall person cant do a move it usually just looks like they're not strong/bendy enough (a continuous problems without a distinct solution).

This difference makes a midgets difficulties much clearer hence they whinge more.
Pero - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to quiffhanger: Also, shorter climbers shouldn't underestimate the advantage of nimbleness!
knighty - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Goucho:

+11 inch ape index?! I bet you find it hard to find sleeves to fit you :P I have enough trouble with a +3 inch AI.
gethin_allen on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:
You could learn how to do fig4s. But joking aside your best bet is to lock of close to your body with the one hand then twist your body and look for more creative foot placements to give you the stability and little boost you need.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Goucho on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to knighty: Tell me about it!! :-)

Down jackets in particular have always been a problem!!!!
mkean - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to gethin_allen:
How much extra reach does a fig4 realistically get you when you aren't using tools and more seriously have you ever actually seen someone pull one while rock climbing?
gethin_allen on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mkean:
I quote "joking aside"
mkean - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to gethin_allen:
Missed that, I've seriously thought about them on a few occasions but never actually pulled one in as part of a problem because they are always in places I wouldn't want to fall off!

;-)
Neil Williams - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to yeti:

Not really, because taller people tend to be heavier, which can in itself be a disadvantage. I think it evens out, TBH.

Neil
Neil Williams - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

FWIW, having long legs and shortish arms at 6' 4" gives me a *massive* leverage disadvantage on just about every sit start...might be why I prefer roped climbing :)

Neil
mkean - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
FWIW, having long legs and shortish arms at 6' 4" gives me a *massive* leverage disadvantage on just about every sit start

Man up a bit! Everyone loves a bunched up sit start. Next time you are stuck on one just think ... at least I'm not 6'8". The number of times I've ended up in a sort of pseudo figure of 4 on a sit start doesn't bear thinking about.

;-)
Tim_C7 - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to knighty:

I'm 6ft 3 and 11 stone, with a +2 ape index. I've noticed that short people with big +ve ape indexes (indices?) can tend to be better at bouldering. I find some bouldering comparatively hard (as mentioned earlier, more core strength required on overhangs, long legs getting in the way on mantles etc.) By contrast, height is normally a slight advantage for me when it comes to trad.

Anyway, better to focus on what you can control. Technique, body mass and its distribution (tree trunk muscly legs with puny arms not overly helpful) and the coulour of hat you wear.

Finally, +11 ape index? Mr Tickle?
alanlgm - on 12 Feb 2013
So

I am only 5ft 4 and i regularly climb with someone who is well over 6ft.

Where Joey can reach things i have so much more power and can lock off and hold positions better.

Both similar time climbing but i would say that i generally get up things before he does.

i love to hear all the tall people moan that short people moan to much

the reality is that when you are at the extreme ends of height you are inherently going to have more problems than Mr/Mrs average when climbing.

Tall people stop your moaning/ short people Man up and stop bitching.

everyone just enjoy the crag and if you cant do a move work it till you own it....
duchessofmalfi - on 25 Feb 2013
Some climbs do specifically favour particular body shapes when this happens the guidebooks usually mention it, eg "5B, 5C for the short", "awkward for the tall" .

By and large climbing does not favour the very tall because it does favour those with a high strength to weight ratio* more than it favours those with a long reach.

I'd argue that for the vast majority of climbs core strength, flexibility and technique are more important than height.

If you want proof of this go and see a youth climbing competition (and also try the routes and get a tall friend to do the same).

As regards "what can I do?" techniques: lay-off, smear, stretch (seriously 90% of the time people can't reach they aren't stretching mainly forgetting to stand on tip-toes), dyno (even a pathetic attempt at a dyno can make the difference), get the feet high, swap hands, roll the body in (often swap feet) as for steep technique, egyptian / drop knee, bridge, palm off or just crank it out.

* Very very roughly - and assuming a fixed body shape your strength goes up linearly with height (muscle cross section goes up as the square, lever advantage goes down linearly, overall force applied goes up linearly as a result). However, weight goes up as the cube (being proportional to volume). So "power to weight" (force to weight) goes down with height.

This is more pronounced for novices because hand strength is determined by the environmental factors governing the weight of everyday objects which tend to be the same for tall and short people (ie when you start climbing people tend to have roughly the same hand strength and shorter people tend to be lighter).

This doesn't apply to elite climbers because they are a self selecting bunch with specific physiological adaptations.
Robert Durran - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to climber007:

The myth that tall people have a general advantage arises because it is very obvious when a specific move favours a tall person. When the climbing favours short people (ie virtually all the rest of the time) the reasons are much nore varied, subtle and less obvious.
Neil Williams - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

Being tall and with proportionally a very long upper leg, I get a big disadvantage on many cramped up sit starts. But, you're right, it does tend to be more subtle.

I reckon in reality there will be routes that are easier if tall, routes that are easier if short, and routes where it makes no difference. Overall I reckon it evens out.

Neil
latam2012 - on 05 Mar 2013
I'd love be be the height that some of you class as short, I'm under 5 foot and often find that some holds are nigh on impossible. Sit starts are easier though and being short does help you to develop good technique

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