When you think about rock climbing, the first thing that comes to mind is the strength needed to pull yourself up. However, an equally important part of your success and the thing that will make your climbing sessions way easier is a climbing technique. In this article, we’ll go through essential climbing techniques and bouldering techniques to get you prepared for every challenge that comes up your way.
Essential Parts Of Every Climbing Technique
There are three essential parts of every rock climbing technique – your footwork, your balance, and efficiency.
1. Footwork Techniques
Proper footwork is as equally important for climbing as your arm strength because it will help you step up instead of pulling yourself up, so you retain your arm energy and can use your hands to keep the balance. Two feet techniques used for climbing are edging and smearing.
If you think it has something to do with edges, you’re right. Edging is done by stepping on hold by simply using the edge of your climbing shoe. The two options here are the inside and the outside of your foot, depending on the direction you want to go. For instance, if you want to go right, then you’ll be using the inside part of your right foot and the outside part of your left foot, and if you want to go left, you’ll use the inner part of your left foot and the outside section of your right foot.
Smearing is done in situations where you don’t have a place to use as a foothold, you have to use only your shoe rubber. This technique comes in handy when you reach a rock with a low angle. Rubber in combination with any lumps or bumps is something to look for to have additional friction.
Footwork Tips And Tricks
When you start climbing, here are some stuff to make your footwork easier:
- Do your best to have your feet directly below your shoulders. This will help you maintain a better balance.
- Pay special attention to your foot placement and make sure you do it right.
- When you find the best place to set your foot, don’t move it.
- Your heel should be as low as possible, so it provides as much contact with the wall as possible. This will increase the friction and it will prevent you from moving your foot.
2. Balance Tips And Tricks
Keeping the balance is there not only to prevent you from falling, but it also has the purpose of making it easier to move and pull yourself in many different directions. Here are some of the most important things you have to know about keeping balance, to help you learn how to stay safe as you move left or right:
- When you move sideways, press your foot in the opposite direction of the side you want to move to. This will create counter pressure.
- At the same time, pull in the opposite direction with your other hand.
- Lean towards the direction where you want to move to, and use only your body weight as a counter-balance.
3. Climbing Efficiency
By learning how to climb more efficiently, you’ll manage to keep your muscles from overworking, and here are some tips to help you make your moves more efficient and easier to do:
- Keep your arms straight. Bent elbows will use mainly your muscles to hold your body, while straight arms will transfer the weight to your shoulders and the whole upper body, this way helping your muscles to rest.
- Practice your hips placing. It may sound more stable to simply keep your hips as close to the rock as possible, but as you practice, you’ll learn that it is worth to give a bit of stability to become more efficient and prevent stressing your muscles by removing the weight from the wall.
- Practice keeping one hip against the wall to keep the weight over the feet, so you can lean back and use your straight arms freely. This will also keep your shoulder closer to the wall, making it easier to grab the hold.
- Use your eyes before your body. Look for holds, keep your eyes on the wall and look for the place to rest.
- Once you find a good place to take a short break, use it! Shake your arms, relax for a bit, and continue your way.
Best Climbing Moves
When you look at some routes, you may think at first it is impossible to climb up, but as you progress with your techniques you’ll see that conquering those routes is not as hard as it may seem. The reason – you’ll learn many different moves used for different purposes. Here are some of the most important and useful climbing moves:
1. Back Step
The back step is one of the main climbing moves and one of the climbing technique and bouldering technique essentials. It is done by turning your hip to the side and stepping using the outside edge of the climbing shoe. By keeping your hip close to the wall, it will be easier to keep your arms straight, and they can provide an extension when you have to reach for the hold. They are also extremely useful in steep and hard routes, where you have to save as much energy as possible.
2. Drop Knee
This move is a bit more complex version of the back step. If your foothold is located near your hip, a drop knee move should be performed. Place the tip of your toe on it, roll the knee inside until your shoe sits on hold, and your knee is turned down. It will give you the chance to rest, but what makes it so useful is the fact that you’ll get an extra reach. If you’re a beginner, here you can find the best climbing shoes for beginners.
This move is used to describe an action where you push against two opposing surfaces. Mostly, stemming is done in chimneys, corner climbs… As you try it, you’ll find the sequence of the moves that work the best for you, and it is all good as long as you learn how to keep the pressure on both surfaces to keep the balance. This move is done mostly by your leg muscles, it is one of the most efficient moves you can use, and it gives you the chance to take a rest.
As you climb and use a leg to shift the weight to counter-balance, you’ll be flagging. This maneuver is used to climb the areas where all the holds are on the same side of your body. To do it, as you move, swing the leg out to the other side of your direction to stay in balance. It may take some time to learn it, but once you do, it will be one of the most useful moves you know.
5. Lay- Backing
When you find yourself in a situation where you have to pull and lean off one side of a crack, while you push your feet against the other side. Combined with good footholds, this move is great for rest for your arms because all the hard work is done by your feet. If there are no good footholds so you have to smear, keeping your heels low will maximize the grip.
Sometimes you’ll bring your feet up to meet your hands on hold, for instance, when you reach the top of the climb, or there is a big handhold so you have to move your feet up high. You’ll do it simply by pushing down on hold so your weight goes above it, and follow by moving your foot up to reach the place of your hand. This move is also part of the bouldering technique.
If you need extra elevation, undercling is a good option. It is done by using the underside of the hold, and it is a bit odd once you start doing it, but as you practice it will feel more and more natural.
Look and find good and high footholds to make sure you maintain body tension and you can push using your feet during your pull. As you move your feet high, the hold will be around the waist level, so your arms will be straight.
8. Side Pull
As the name itself says, side pulls are used when you have to move sideways. It is important to learn how to properly apply a counter-force by shifting body weight to keep your balance. It also can be a bit odd at first, but as you practice, you’ll learn how to do it and it will become one of the moves you use on a regular level.
Gaston is a completely reversed side pull. When you perform a side pull, you’ll pull in, but instead of pulling in, you’ll be pushing out. It is done by bending the elbow until it reaches outside, with your fingers pointing inside.
Used to help you maintain balance as you move your feet, especially if there are no good handholds available nearby, palming is done by simply pushing against the rock with your open palm. It is considered to be a hand version of smearing, and it makes a great combination with stemming as it will allow you to create counter pressure. It is also one of the most useful climbing techniques in slab climbs when you have to do finger-down palming. It is one of the main bouldering techniques.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about rock climbing techniques:
Q: What is a good climbing technique?
The best climbing technique is the one that suits you and your climbing style, your body and your tactics the best. Climbing is from start to finish connected to you and your style, so there is not the one that is overall the best choice for every climber in the world. As you practice and as you find what suits you the best, you’ll find the right technique.
Q: Is rock climbing hard for beginners?
No, rock climbing is not hard for beginners. It does require a bit of strength, patience and devotion, but once you start learning all the different moves and maneuvers, it will become easier and easier. If you listen to the suggestions from older and/or more experienced climbers and follow their guide and tips, it will soon stop being hard and you’ll enjoy each and every moment you spend on the rocks with your friends.
Globo Surf Overview
Learning climbing techniques and bouldering techniques and all the included movements will help you master the art of rock climbing much sooner. This article can serve you as a guideline, so you can have an idea of what to expect before you set your foot on the rock for the first time. If you’re interested in many rock climbing health benefits, here you can read more about it.