Upper Body Climbing Basics

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Getting a grip on things
Getting a grip on things

Unfortunately not every handhold is a nicely in-cut horizontal that you can pull down on like a ladder rung. They come in all shapes and sizes, from the pinch and under-cling, to side-pull gastons.

Find the most positive aspect of a hold, and then take advantage of it. Opposition of forces is part of what makes a hold positive, and when you have a nice horizontal feature, gravity does half the work. Everyone has wished at one time or another that they could just turn a hold on it's side for a better grip, but there's no sense in groping desperately for the sloping top, when the side has a big break in it that your fingers can wrap around with relative ease. Find that most positive aspect and then create the opposing force that will help you hang on. Orient your hand and body so that you are pulling perpendicular to your grip whenever possible.

In some cases you'll turn your hips and your chest away from the wall, but in trade find a position that allows you to pull off of your shoulders and maximize the angle of your hand on it's hold. Think of your hips and lower abdomen as a pivot point, and turn from side to side, watching how your new position affects the tension on your arms and hands.

And relax. Don't over-grip. Commonly, novice climbers grab a hold and hang on as tightly as they can, usually out of fear, and partly out of lack of experience. Loosen up a little, remember to take deep breaths, and eventually you'll learn to use only as much effort as is needed to stay secure, nothing more.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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