im just about 5ft and im getting pretty disheartened at the wall because i often cant do the routes that others can because I can't reach the next hold thats been set. I've been told that my technique is better than some of other climbers but it still doesnt help if i cant actually do it.
I don't really get the chance to climb outdoors much although im gonna hopefully go to the peaks at some point as i reckon it would be less reach dependent.
but really i was just wondering if there are some tips and particular kinds of techniques that i ought to practice to help me.
In reply to latam2012: Being extremely short 5'2 ish myself I know your pain. And outdoors, it can still be a massive issue. Staffordshire Flyer V4 and Short Comings E1 5c both at The Roaches are 2 that comes to mind where small is definitly harder. Flyer having the first crimp is a bitch as reaching back is at full reach and Short Comings is just a pain after trying it on 2nd to get under the overhang thing. I found that climbing dynamic helps alot. My mate found that if you bring 1 arm back and rotate it up like a windmill you can get an extra inch of reach somehow. There are a few more ideas that work but its late so I'll get back to you tomorrow on more ideas that work
In reply to latam2012: as people have said, the climbing wall is not an ideal place to practice these kind of things, as there is usually only one hand hold to reach for. outdoors, unless you are on harder stuff, there is usually more than one option with intermediate holds available. I guess the only advice i could give, would be get as strong as possible, and improve your technique focusing on getting as close to the wall as possible, giving you maximum reach. Also, take advantage of the fact that you are likely to be much lighter than a lot of people, so your strength can be put to better use. Climb dynamically, and concentrate on good footwork, maybe do lots of routes with "high foot" moves, where you can rock up and achieve a good amount of height with one move.
Gritstone can favour the taller climber. My girlfriend is 5'3" and a much better climber than I am, though there have been some routes in the Peak district that she found tougher than I did because I'm 6'. At least it should be better than indoor walls though.
Take inspiration from Lynn Hill though. One of the best female climbers, and I read a quote saying that all climbers (male & female) should aspire to climb like her. And she's 5'1".
Funny story to finish - my girlfriend was climbing with another girl (who was about 5') and a few guys all around 6'. There was an indoor boulder problem around V3 with a sit start. None of the 6' guys could get off the floor, whereas the 2 shorter girls had it first go.
In reply to turtlespit:
I agree with the Lynn hill thing
I read something by her in a learn to climb book about 10 years ago that was along the lines of when working a move keep trying something different not just failing the same way over and over. This has helped me over the years. I now find the solutions quicker than i used to as I build up my own repertoire of moves.
Also Believe you can do it and commit. it is amazing how you think something is too reachy for you at first but eventually you find you can do it, and once you are familiar with the route it's not bad at all.
> im just about 5ft and im getting pretty disheartened at the wall because i often cant do the routes that others can because I can't reach the next hold thats been set. I've been told that my technique is better than some of other climbers but it still doesn't help if i cant actually do it.
Sympathies. At 5'4", I've become a bit of an armchair academic on the pros and cons of being short.
Short climbers develop power and dynamic style easier than tall climbers, not only because they have to, but also because having shorter leavers etc, helps I believe. I now find indoor climbing the most non-height dependent climbing - often its about things like using your outside edge and being dynamic. There are 10 year old kids at Nottingham who can wipe the floor with me on British 6a/6b problems despite their size. Watch how other short people climb.
There are plenty of moves out there, especially things under overhangs etc, where being short means your less bunched. Ever done the Mincer (Roaches)?
> I don't really get the chance to climb outdoors much although im gonna hopefully go to the peaks at some point as i reckon it would be less reach dependent.
Unfortunately the Peak and Grit in particular is about the most height dependent place I know of. I take a 2 grade hit on my limit on grit, often due to reach. However, there are 'shorty' solutions to many problems, but some routes really have no options because of the nature of grit.
However, height on Limestone and almost any other rock, is less of an issue, there are very often options.
In reply to latam2012:
The trick for me was to develop my technique, and concentrate on the footwork. Don't dismiss the footholds that are only a couple of inches up from where you are already standing; they will give you the extra height to get to the hand hold. Don't be afraid to move ACROSS a climb and rocking over, in order to evenually work your way UP it, on the basis of finding those slightlyhigher footholds. By the way, something that was mentioned earlier really does work- gently "windmilling" your arm does lengthen your reach- the action unlocks various muscles and allows the fibres to relax and lengthen.
Where there is no foothold handy, consider smearing for a step or two, and getting your feet nice and high ready to stand and go for that handhold. My old climb partner of 6'1" used to call me the Smear Queen!
Outside is much easier- anything goes, and you are not limited to a fixed number of holds. It can be frustrating at times though- I can't do Black and Tan at Bowden Doors without an initial leg up although the climb itself is a piece of cake thereafter! I have never therefore been able to claim it as a lead or second. On the other hand, I ended up leading the middle pitch of Ardus at Shepher's Crag because my tall partner couldn't get off the deck- he was hunting for high holds, while I just rummaged round at the bottom of the climb, and started stepping on stuff that was only a few inches off the deck. I used to climb with another chap who relied on his upper strength to "thug" his way up a climb, but was absolutely pants on the small, fingery technical stuff. I worked such a route on the slabs at Sunderland wall for weeks, and was chuffed to finally get it at a pretty hight tech grade (for me!), a 6 or something, I think.
To practise, go to your wall and go to the 'baby' panel for kids. Then up you go, limiting the use of you hands by either using ONLY ONE (try wearing a thick mitten on it so you can't be tempted) or passing your right hand over your centre of your body, and only allolwing it to go to hand holds on the left, and vice versa. It teaches you to move over the panel, and secure your footwork, and teaches less reliance on your hands. i also used to tie people's hand to theor ankle with a lenth of bungy or cord to again limit them from constantly reaching up with the hands. When moving up a panel, try to think about shifting your feet FIRST.
The problem with the wall is there are often no intermediate footholds and poorly set routes use big reaches to add difficulty. If your wall has a good texture and it's not too steep then you may be able to smear effectively, this is obviously still going to be harder than for someone stood on a good hold but easier than growing
The good thing about the wall is that it rewards a dynamic style, one you can develop in relative safety. You can usually tell what the hold your going for is like and there's little to hit should you fall trying. On flat panels look for high feet (smearing to get there if necessary) and big deadpoint moves, use your momentum effectively. You don't need that cautious static style that's useful outside (where you'll have more foot options).
Where there's any shape to the wall (or sometimes just suitable holds/volumes), look for bridges and Egyptions. You can often bridge even a broad open groove with one foot (or both!) smeared. The root of the groove itself affords a smeared foot some extra grip, a 90deg corner is often as good as a reasonable foothold.
Also, look for other options. Can you use the arete rather than a hold for a hand or a toe/heel hook? Can you palm in that groove? Can you back and foot your way up a section of corner? Can you mantle the hold you're stuck at? Get creative!
> I don't really get the chance to climb outdoors much although im gonna hopefully go to the peaks at some point as i reckon it would be less reach dependent.
Grit is generally considered to be one of the more reach dependent rock types, but don't let that put you off - some of the greatest grit climbers have been short - Joe Brown, Don Whillans, Johnny Dawes, John Dunne etc. There's nearly always a way with technique and power.
I'm shorter than nearly all my climbing partners, and don't have long arms, yet often have a lot more reach at my disposal than other climbers due to a combination of technique and power. The tricks you need to master are rock-overs, the ability to use tiny footholds and intermediate handholds and deep lock-offs. As a shortie, you will be able to get your feet much higher than taller climbers (especially if your hip flexibility is good) - use this to your advantage. Also, power is very useful. Lots of people can lock off their weight on a bent arm with their hand at shoulder height, but the real benefits come from being able to push down further, so that your hand is well below shoulder height - this will give you the extra reach.
In reply to latam2012: Read Lynn Hill's autobiography. She is an amazing climber at only 5'2", the first person to climb the Nose on El Cap free and then to climb it in under 24 hours. She was also the first woman to climb F9a sport. She talks a lot about her height but sees it as an advantage since she has a lower centre of gravity and smaller fingers so can pull on smaller holds.
Climbing isn't about reach - it is about technique.
One of my favorite climbing scenes is from stone monkey where he's kinda 'bouncing' around on an indoor wall. Always reminds me of Ron Fawcett's description of watching the 'aerodynamic' Dawes.
I Had and interesting 'measuring' session a few weeks ago. Met Steve McClure in Sheff. He's slightly taller than me, and slightly shorter than my son. We lined up and put our hands in the air, my son has a ridiculous reach, a good 6 inches more than mine. Steve's was also way longer than mine, and just slightly less than my son's.
In reply to latam2012: Watch Ramon Julian who currently leads the WC and previous WC winner. He's only 5'2 - 5'3. Though he's an absolute beast with his physical strength and only weighing about 48kg also helps alot. But more importantly, watch his foot work.
In reply to latam2012:
Getting stronger and more flexible, with better technique than taller people will help. Also learning to use your body momentum to its optimum. There is no doubt being taller makes climbing easier, anyone who says otherwise is talking nonsense or quoting exceptions to the rule and flexibility rules out all but the most extreme of bunched up issues that tall people can claim to face. Also remember that grades are often given by tall people who are male which makes them all but meaningless for shorties. Keep climbing and it will come.
In reply to Billy De Kid: There is no doubt being taller makes climbing easier, anyone who says otherwise is talking nonsense or quoting exceptions to the rule and flexibility rules out all but the most extreme of bunched up issues that tall people can claim to face.
Yawn. I'm assuming your growth was stunted by the weight of that chip on your shoulder? The taller you are the heavier you are, the relationship isn't linear and the further above average that you are the worse the problem is.
Holds especially indoors don't get any bigger for us tall people, next time you pull on a 3 finger pocket, remember that some of us will only just be able to squeeze two fingers into it.
If climbing is so much easier for tall people then why are the worlds top climbers almost exclusively short? (Sharma being the obvious exception)
To the OP:
Work on footwork and core stability so you can make the most of the holds and you'll be fine
> (In reply to Monk) i wouldnt say john dunne is short!!
> if your short you have a few options,learn to highstep or learn to jump
Really? How tall is he? He never seems to Tower above me on the occaisions I have met him. I guess it depends on your definition of short, but if Steve McLure is being counted as short then John Dunne isn't exactly a giant.
> There is no doubt being taller makes climbing easier, anyone who says otherwise is talking nonsense.
I have just read Dave Macleod's book. He seems to be in no doubt that being tall is in general a disadvantage (there are obviously specific moves which are easier for the tall, just as there are for the short). He refers to "the lucky little ones". Do you think he is talking nonsense?
> I have just read Dave Macleod's book. He seems to be in no doubt that being tall is in general a disadvantage (there are obviously specific moves which are easier for the tall, just as there are for the short). He refers to "the lucky little ones". Do you think he is talking nonsense?
Some of the people I climb with indoors are taller than me, and I suspect they have an advantage most of the time. Could it be that it makes things easier for beginners, say below F6b, but above that it makes much less difference?
You can see if you were e.g. 8m tall, most indoor routes would be easy - you'd just go for the one good hold in the middle of the route and be done.
In reply to beychae: You can see if you were e.g. 8m tall, most indoor routes would be easy - you'd just go for the one good hold in the middle of the route and be done.
I'm not convinced you can logically extend things that far but an 8m tall person would still suffer from massive problems:
- An 8m tall person would have very big hands, they'd probably have to crimp even a large 2-handed jug.
- They'd struggle to be strong enough to pull up on a hold. If two people of the same weight and body fat but different height try to do a pull up the taller one needs to be stronger due to leverage issues.
> You can see if you were e.g. 8m tall, most indoor routes would be easy - you'd just go for the one good hold in the middle of the route and be done.
I suspect that height is more often an advantage on indoor routes due to the lack of intermediate holds (including footholds).
Watching small children doing indoor routes, it is clear that they sometimes have to climb them very differently; a series of very big moves between (for them) relatively large holds. A one finger joint hold for me might be two joints for a child, a reasonable hold for me might be a jug for a child.
I think that your comment about beginners is a good one - in general beginners won't have the strategies to get round reachy moves that a more experienced climber would have. At 5' 7", I reckon if I'm trying and failing to reach a hold indoors, I'm not doing the move the way the setter intended. I've sometimes seen very tall climbers get in a muddle indoors because they've reached through some move...
On the other hand, I climb mostly with women (who tend, on average, to be shorter) and sometimes indoor routes just assume a certain reach and it must be highly frustrating not to be able to get off the ground under those circumstances!
In reply to beychae:
To give you a real life example I'm 6'8", one of my regular climbing partners is about 5'6". Generally speaking he finds sit starts easy, whereas I don't due to them being more cramped for me or being unable to get low enough to pull on them (i.e. having to pull out rather than down on a sloper is much harder). Once I'm off the deck I then tend to find reaching holds a lot easier, but small pockets and crimps are more difficult to hold. If I wasn't very flexible then I think that my height would be a serious hinderance on a lot of boulder problems.
One other area that taller climbers really struggle with are roofs, as the amount of power required to keep long limbs and excess weight in balance is massive. (go and ask a >6' climber to do a front lever and you'll see what I mean)
In reply to beastofackworth:
Because generally speaking people are vaguely in proportion. I'm somewhere between XXL and XXXL in gloves, which would be unusual for a shorter person. I'm also carrying a fair bit of weight due to my height which when coupled with the extra leverage exerted by longer limbs means I need to apply much more force, to the same area for a given action.
In much the same way that small footholds disadvantage the larger climber as more weight on a small space causes more creep.
> (In reply to beastofackworth)
> The taller you are, the bigger your hands and fingers.
not always,i have way bigger hands than most people taller than me,well most people in general and crimping is one of my strong points.
i do get what is meant by the statement but surely crimping relates to a technique not a hold size so,you can get big crimps and big pockets so someone with bigger hands/fingers should find big pockets easier,technically speaking ofcourse.
I'm gonna start doing some core strength exercises and attempt one handed traversing to help me with dynamic climbing.
Practiced rocking over on really high knees yesterday and that was pretty fun.
Obviously there are some advantages to being shorter climber, like sit starts and rocking over on really high knees. It might seem like iv got a chip on my shoulder but its frustrating as we've just had a load of new students join the climbing society and there's people that can flash climbs with trainers on and absolutely no technique that iv had to work at.
But then i guess the working at it and the technique is whats good about climbing
In reply to latam2012: Be more dynamic, get stronger, be more selective abbout routes and think about your feet, dont get dishartened, im 6ft5 and theres a lot of routes i cant do that my shorter mates find easy. Its swings and roundabouts mate, stop with the 'toxic dwarf syndrome' and climb to your strengths, train your weaknesses.
aha toxic dwarf syndrome! definitely gonna work on strength, been pushing myself a bit the past couple of weeks and i think its made a difference already. We don't have a lot of routes at uni, but we do trips to the peaks and hopefully a indoor trip to london soon.
I'm actually starting to get more positive about stuff and i starting to think its actually fun that i have to figure stuff out and work on my technique.
im sure its not great being really really tall either and at least iv reached 5 ft now!
In reply to latam2012: Lucy Creamer is a very good climber, not very tall, very friendly and would be a good person to ask - she has an on-line climbing clinic on her website (e.g. http://www.lucycreamer.com/climbingclinic.php?p=5|26). Also you might want to set some routes because that is a great way to develop your climbing and find out what works for you. You'll probably find you can set a route which you find ok but will really challenge tall climbers. Good luck.
> One other area that taller climbers really struggle with are roofs, as the amount of power required to keep long limbs and excess weight in balance is massive. (go and ask a >6' climber to do a front lever and you'll see what I mean)
I'm 6' with limbs (+5" ape index) and just like you say, roofs are a real struggle. I prefer slabs simply because it plays to height in a better way than roofs can. I think it is easier to be a good climber if you are tall but to be a really good climber a little shorter is going to work better
> (In reply to latam2012)
> There is no excuse for reach dependent routes indoors, and they reflect badly on the competence and imagination of the route setters. Outdoors you're at the mercy of geology.
I used to work at a climbing wall and for a while kept getting climbers, shortarses like me, coming to me to complain about lots of the routes. They couldn't reach the first holds to get off the deck, I realised they had been moved upwards by the guy who was there in the evenings. He was well over 6 foot and thought it was a great laugh to have short climbers come up to him to complain about the routes and then him "demonstrate" how good a climber he was that he could get off the ground. Idiot.
His ego seemed to be more important than the wall he was co-owner of actually having climbers enjoy using it. I soon stopped it by dobbing him in to the other guys who owned it after he ignored me.
So maybe the route setters at walls that have height dependent routes have this ego problem? Not all of them obviously.
Hi I'm 5'2 so reach is an almost constant issue. However, I have managed to lead F6c and boulder font6c on indoor walls.
My advice is to play to your strengths - you can have alot of fun on steep walls (easier for the short) and I enjoy leaping for the better holds! Usually I just find I do things in a different way to everyone else - e.g. I place my feet higher or do rock overs/ mantles rather than just reaching.
I often find that there are routes/ problems that are just so much harder for the short. So I leave them and pick something else to avoid the disheartened feeling.
Being short tends to make things harder at first, but when you get stronger (especially core muscles) there's much less advantage to being tall.
Specific techniques would be:
-twisting your body around to increase reach
-holding yourself closer into the wall also increases reach
-and when all else fails practice dynos!!
I am 5ft7, my 2 climbing partners are both 6ft2. Now we can do about the same amount of pull ups, dead hangs etc, in fact if anything, I would say that I am the strongest. However when we climb I would say that they find 9 out of 10 routes easier than me (especially indoors). I often get comments from them of 'I dont know how the hell you got up that!'
I dont have a chip on my shoulder or owt like that, but being tall is a definate advantage, for most of us that fit into the general population.
Sometimes having that extra few inches to get a jug, saves alot of energy compared to when you have to fit in an extra technical move or extra dynamism to make the same end point!
The famous shorties that have been mentioned happen to be some of the most gifted climbers on the planet probably representing the 0.001% of the climbing population. For those of average ability (VS/HVS grit) been short (like me)is not good approximately 99% of the time (my rough analysis of 10yrs on grit up to E1 )i would agree with the posters suggesting about 5.9/10 is optimal and things get exponentially harder as the inches drop away.
stay away from cruxy routes, stay light, stay strong (Fingers), smear like a demon, have balls like a elephant,embrace the dyno's and have zero fear of falling....and when you've done all that, i'll hold your ropes at stanage and learn.
In reply to shaun walby: from speaking to lots of climbers i would say 5'10/5'11 is the optimum height for being a good allround climbers.there are many climbs out there that play to each end of the heigh scale so its all good
> Not tall myself but if he can do it, it leaves us shorties with little excuse!?
Don't ya just hate people like that? One of the route setters at the Westway is a slightly built girl who is several inches shorter than me - her routes seem to be both very powerful and very reachy. How does someone who is both delicate and tiny manage that - nasty cow! ***
As to how to improve, I find swearing a lot helps. That and punching giants in the knee!
*** She is not really a nasty cow, actually she seems like quite a pleasant, friendly person. Unforgivably however she effortlessly demolishes my favorite "dwarf" excuse.
I dont understand why people are ridiculing this post with their facetious tips for tall/crap/male climbers threads.
Its not like Im 5'6 and complaining, Im 5ft at best. Is it that hard to understand that I legitimately cannot do a lot of stuff that would otherwise be easy for some. Especially as I only really climb indoors at the moment.
the tall climbers thread goes on about how its a disadvantage to be really tall and I am sure that it is, i would never ridicule some tall person asking for help on sit starts when I find may them easy. Just because dave macleod says its an advantage to be shorter doesnt mean its the shorter the better.
In reply to latam2012:
I'd agree with what others have said about outdoors being less height dependent than indoors.
Tips for indoors:
i) Get chatting with your local route setters. Well-set indoor routes cater for short people. They don't usually do it by putting all the holds closer together (though some routes aimed at kids do that), they usually do it by putting _something_... ie some minimal smidgin of a hold... where it helps for your feet. The difference one little screw-on can make is immense. A judicious screw-on can make a route doable for the short without making it too-easy-for-grade for the rest.
ii) Go sideways. If you've been climbing a fair while you'll do that anyway, I'm assuming you're new to the sport. To know what I mean...
iii) ... watch other short people climbing. If you're not too shy, ask them their advice about particular moves that are stumping you. Very often there is another way to get up.
iv) At 5'2" I'm a fair bit taller than you, (also, I'm not a very good climber) but for what it's worth, this is the main effective thing I do to get to the holds I can't reach: I get the last good hand hold, and I swing up from it with as much pivotal force as I can muster. ie I dyno. It only works with good enough hand holds. Or occasionally it's my toes/feet/legs powering the pivot.
v) Get strong and get on the steep stuff. I'm not sure why steep routes should be less height dependent but it seems that way for me.
> I dont understand why people are ridiculing this post with their facetious tips for tall/crap/male climbers threads.
Because it's funny...
More seriously, I suspect that, given two complete beginners, or climbers with very poor technique, the taller one will be at an advantage. However, once both are technically competent, the smaller one (unless ridiculously small) will generally be at an advantage (though less so on indoor walls). The reason people often erroneously think the opposite is because it is blatantly obvious when a particular move is easier for the tall climber, whereas the disadvantages for the tall climber (see Dave Macleod's book for details) are usally much subtler and cumulative over a pitch.
Basically, small climbers like you and tall climbers like me should all stop moaning and play to their strengths and work on their weaknesses (Again, see Dave Macleod's book!).
Well yes it is really. But you are very naughty to tease so much - it might hurt the feelings of more delicate souls than me!
> However, once both are technically competent
I've spent 20 years waiting for that moment to come, no sign of it arriving any time soon.
> Basically, small climbers like you and tall climbers like me should all stop moaning and play to their strengths and work on their weaknesses
That assumes they have any strengths to play to. And moaning is so much easier. Besides, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the admission of a sin is an entirely adequate substitute for its cure.
In reply to staceyjg: Ha ha ha, I'm four eleven and you're so right, I'm probably in the wrong sport!! :D
Far too much fun to give it up though!
To the OP - Yes it is sometimes very frustrating not being able to reach things, but there are definitely advantages and I find some things miles easier than my tall friends such as laybacking. Sounds like you are, but just wanted to say, stay positive - I used to get really sulky but it was totally pointless and just ruined the fun!
oh ps. indoor bouldering helped me to get much stronger which made me more confident when routing. Not for everyone, but helped me, could be worth a try.
I'm short at 5'6", yes sometimes a route can go up a grade because of reach but some routes are easier. Some mantelshelf moves are easier for shorter people. Getting the feet up high to reach a foothold can also be a bit easier sometimes.
>Im 5ft at best. Is it that hard to understand that I legitimately cannot do a lot of stuff that would otherwise be easy for some.
Well, one tip would be to steer clear of routes with names like Shortcomings! (Long John's Slab would be another one). I'll throw in Acid Drop and Humdinger, although they don't have such obvious clues in their names.
Since you go to the Stoke wall, it's a shame you didn't see Alex Norton climbing there recently. Alex is (I hope he won't mind me saying), well, very short indeed but came 3rd in the 8-10 class in the BMC YCS national finals last year. We bouldered with him for a while and it was a pretty chastening experience. He never gives up, makes impossible dynos and just mantleshelves onto handholds so that he can reach the one. It really shows what you can do if you have the right attitude (and the power-to-weight ratio of a very fit eleven year-old who probably weighs less than my rucksack).
In reply to latam2012: How true your post is, I'm 5'6" and I must admit I have to literally throw myself up to the next hold in some cases.
Mainly due to the fact that the route setter is considerably taller than myself or my peers. It is then difficult for me to decide on whether that route is undergraded or sometimes over graded.
I do enjoy technical climbing were I have to think about body position, and getting my balance spot on, I have found sometimes at my local wall that climbing f5+ felt harder than climbing f6c. And this was because the route setter was taller than myself on the lower grade climb. Whilst the harder route was more technical but set by someone relative to my own height.
I do enjoy a challenge though! Find routes climbed by average height climbers: Joe Brown, Johnny Dawes, to name a couple that spring to mind but look on the positive of what they have achieved in the history of British climbing.