Paul Robinson (1987) is a professional rock climber. He’s famous for being the second climber ever to have finished an incredibly difficult V13 route… in one attempt.
Today he’s got some advice for us on climbing techniques. As Paul specializes in bouldering, bouldering fans should surely pay close attention to these four Pro Climbing Tips he’s provided!
1. Watch Your Feet
Paul’s first advice is to always watch your feet as you place them on holds and edges. This has two benefits.
First, this way you can make sure your foot is standing correctly, and this prevents it from slipping away, which could lead to disastrous consequences in (hypothetical) free soloing situations.
Secondly, making sure that your feet is positioned correctly by watching it, you gain a psychological edge. You simply feel more confident when climbing to your next step, and you won’t hesitate as much to put the required weight on it for your next move up.
2. Pull up and Pull in when you cut-loose your feet
In a lot of medium to advanced climbing situations, there will be a point where neither of your feet have contact with any wall or hold. This is Called a ‘cut-loose’ or ‘cutting feet’. When this situation occurs, there’s a way to make this move easier on yourself and for it to require less strength.
Instead of stretching your body while hanging on your arms in a stretched position, you should try to immediately pull yourself up while curling your body inwards, working your abs, so as to minimize the distance your foot has to travel to get onto the next hold. That way you can prevent swinging your body and it will also reduce your time hanging drastically. These things combined reduce the strength required for the move. In summary: “get your feet back on as quickly as possible”. Don’t waste your time swinging like a chimpanzee.
When you need to jump to a hold, you should do the same thing. Pulling up will stop your body from swinging, which means you’re more in control and closer to the next hold to grab. This move becomes increasingly important once you start jumping towards slopers. These holds barely have anything to hold on to, and swinging too far will result in you falling off. Instead, when you pull up as you grab a hold, you can stay underneath it and allow friction to stick you to the wall. So you could easily prevent yourself from falling when bouldering with slopers by pulling your arms towards the hold that you just jumped to.
3. Flag to balance your body
Especially when you’re hanging onto an overhanging face, flagging is of the essence. Flagging is the technique whereby you use one foot to counterbalance the weight of the rest of your body, thus stabilizing your position.
When you’re hanging on two arms and let loose of one arm, and your body falls to a certain direction, Paul says that it means that “we probably didn’t have our body in the right position”. To prevent this, you should stick your leg and foot out in the direction to which you would fall, and touch the wall with your toe there.
This allows you to reach for the next hold without being dragged to the opposite side by gravity. For intermediate to hard routes, flagging becomes a crucial part of your climbing toolkit.
4. Don’t forget to read the route first
Visualizing yourself climbing the route before you actually climb it, will increase your chances of completing the bouldering problem significantly. Try to debate which moves are the easiest way to climb the route, and also argue why some moves will or will not work. This way you won’t have to spend all of your strength on a move that will ultimately lead to failure.
The next tip won’t work when you’re climbing somewhere where nobody has ever climbed before. But in bouldering halls and popular outdoors faces, there will be traces of where other climbers have gone before you. In outdoors scenarios, this could be traces of chalk. When climbing indoors, sometimes the holds will have a blackish color, left behind by the grip strips on your climbing shoes. Try to spot these ‘hot spots’ on your climbing route and you’ll likely find the best possible way to manoeuvre yourself to the top.
Lastly, take a step back. Literally. From a distance you’ll be able to see much better where the holds have the best grip than when you’re standing below it. This way, you’ll have more information on the route than when you were to figure it out during the climb itself.
Now let’s check out Geek Climber executing Paul Robinson’s advice and visibly improving during his training!