Overhanging climbs and climbing steep can be intimidating at first, but what I love about them is how I have to adapt my body to move efficiently through steep terrain and get creative with my climbing movement. What I also love about steep sport climbing is that all of the lead falls are clean (well mostly anyway). If you pop off you’ll find yourself cushioned by the air below you if your belayer is giving you a nice soft catch.
You may be asking yourself, what is an overhanging climb? It’s any climb that the angle is greater than 90 degrees vertical and it takes a specific skill set to be able to navigate your way through steeper terrain. Classic climbing areas like the Red River Gorge, Rifle and Maple Canyon are well known for this style of climbing. Follow a few of these pointers below and you will be able to save a little energy and move more quickly through steeper climbs.
1. Climb Fast(er)
The pump clock is ticking when you’re on an overhanging route so you want to move as quickly as possible. There’s no time to dilly dally because you only have so much fuel in the tank to burn. You’ll want to move quickly and efficiently so you can economize your energy. This is going to require some work on your part to get that route dialed so you aren’t doing any unnecessary or extra moves.
2. Conserve Energy
-Relax your grip. Don’t hold on or squeeze the holds any harder than necessary. Over gripping is a waste of energy.
3. High Feet and Turn Hips In
-Now turn your right hip into the wall and note how much further you can extend that reach. This is a huge advantage on steep climbs.
4. Maximize Rests
-Breathe deep. Inhale through your nose and push the air out through pursed lips. Your belayer should hear you exhale. This will help lower your heart rate so you can stay relaxed in the mind and the body.
5. Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
-Climb the route at least 3 times per session and refine your beta with each attempt. Be sure your rest 20-30 minutes between attempts to stay productive.
6. Proper Footwear