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/ ARTICLE: Franco Cookson's Guide to Highballing

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UKC Articles - on 14 Jun 2018
The Young, 4 kbHighballing is the most modern form of climbing. In essence, it involves climbing a high rock, with use of crash mats to offer protection. Mostly this protection is of the physical kind and a lofty fall is terminated in a soft thump, a directional prod from your friends spotting you, and a large exhale of breath as you sit back and gaze up at what could have been. The beauty of this approach is that it extends upwards the 'try hard' world of bouldering and brings the light freedom of short solos into the realms of safety. The perfect highball should allow you to keep pulling, climb free and remain safe(ish).

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Alex the Alex on 14 Jun 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great writing Franco! Looking forward to the Moors guide if the words are as good as this. 

LeeWood - on 14 Jun 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

Delighted to finally have a lucid explanation of high-balling. Alas not something I'll ever take to now - after falling a mere 1.5m in an awkward manner and damaging my back had a good mat in place but landed just off it

Presley Whippet on 14 Jun 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

You take a rope on your "rope ball" solos.

Hmm, I feel very old and out of touch. 

Paz - on 14 Jun 2018

Great article.

I think beginners, especially those of us getting on a bit with dodgy joints, need to first gradually get their bodies used to taking ground falls, and take their deck outs step by step, gradually increasing height and number of falls. 

Parkour Traceurs and martial artists call it conditioning the body.  Everyone wants to do the death defying jumps and break a concrete block with their fist at first, but it just doesn't work like that and a novices body just won't take the impact.

 

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Dogwatch - on 15 Jun 2018

"As with anything in its infancy, the future of highballing is blindingly bright"

Is is really that new? IIRC the word has been around for many years.

 

 

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The New NickB - on 15 Jun 2018
In reply to Dogwatch:

> "As with anything in its infancy, the future of highballing is blindingly bright"

> Is is really that new? IIRC the word has been around for many years.

How long have decent pads been around? Bar towels never used to give much protection.

Duncan Campbell - on 15 Jun 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

Ahhhh highballing, just magic! Great article Franco, got me keen to get back involved a bit more this winter!

Kevin Woods - on 15 Jun 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article, and pretty inspiring as well!

Kevin Woods - on 15 Jun 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

Oh, and that last video is just mental. I've never seen it before.

Deadeye - on 15 Jun 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

Everyone will want to burn the heretic I expect but...

If you're going to all the faff of nets to effectively make it safe, why not just top-rope?

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Kevin Woods - on 15 Jun 2018
In reply to Deadeye:

I thought it looked more natural and sociable as a sport route! (No idea of that's the ethic or not but look at the line...)

FactorXXX - on 16 Jun 2018
In reply to Deadeye:

> Everyone will want to burn the heretic I expect but...
> If you're going to all the faff of nets to effectively make it safe, why not just top-rope?

1. The constant threat of an actual fall and all that entails is still present when using nets. i.e. there is a psychological element present which would be missing in Top Roping.  After all, isn't that one of the major reasons why we climb and why Top Roping is not classed as 'real' climbing?
2. Falling off on the bottom of steep routes is not a good idea on a Top Rope.
3. Like Bouldering, you can do it on your own.

I personally think it's rubbish as there's no way would I trust falling into a net and I also couldn't be bothered with the faff of setting it up, etc.  
However, as an alternative to lots of mats and spotters?  Why not, if you're mad enough, go for it...

 

Deadeye - on 16 Jun 2018
In reply to FactorXXX:

Still not really convinced - the faff is enormous, but the video shows a chap happily chucking himself off the top of the crag into it so it must be viewed as pretty safe once set up.  A bit like bringing a gazillion mattresses...

Kevin Woods - on 16 Jun 2018
In reply to Deadeye:

Since when was climbing ever about convenience?

Now creativity, I can get behind...

deacondeacon - on 16 Jun 2018
In reply to Kevin Woods:

Nail on head!

It can seem on ukc people are so quick to judge with 'why the fast ascent/why the dangerous route/why the faff etc but it's f*cking climbing! There is no rhyme or reason, and for the thousands of people who take part there'll be a thousand different reasons, but I'm pretty sure every single person who climbs does it because when it works and everything falls into place it feels amazing! 


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