The key to working routes is as much about developing movement skills as it is about memorizing sequences of holds.
You would think I’m a broken record but I just sent a long-time climbing project and I was again reminded of a key climbing-movement concept:
Your hips are your power center. The foundation of all climbing movement comes first from your hips!
I know you have heard this from me before. But listen.
I’ve been going to this same climb over and over and I’ve never been able to climb it without falling or hanging—until recently.
Whenever I don’t have a climbing partner I slip off to this route which is on a cliff where I can approach from the top. At the top, I throw a rope over a warm-up then climb the warm-up, using a mini traction for a self-belay. From the top of the warm-up I can traverse over to set up a harder route. This route is an overhanging arête with tiny holds and it has been my nemesis for years.
The problem was all about balance. I had to stay over my feet.
But what does balance and staying over your feet mean when the route is overhanging?
I found when I hung my hips too far away from the wall, I’d over-grip, get pumped and fall off.
But, when I pushed my hips up and into the wall, contracting all of my leg and butt muscles, I could relax my grip. I could also take some deep breaths in this position.
It is easy to see this position when you watch good climbers in a gym.
They bring their hips out, but only to move their feet up because it’s easier to watch their feet go precisely on the chosen hold from this position.
All the rest of the time, their hips are “married” to the wall. They are using their leg and butt muscles to hold themselves in.
But, don’t just listen to me.
Try to visualize this movement of hanging your hips out to bring your feet up and then marrying your hips to the wall. Now go out and try it for yourself. I bet you’ll send!