Bat-hangs and Bicycles Part 1
Na na na na na na na na na bat-hang!
You’re probably wondering, what the heck are you talking about? Well, I’m glad you asked. And no, this isn’t about a band I heard.
There is a lesser-known climbing technique called the bat-hang I stumbled across and attempted it. Here’s are some steps to do it that I’ve found.
How to bat-hang:
- Be a bat.
- Be a climber that attempts bat-hangs.
- Be a bat.
Just kidding! They aren’t as easy as they look, but bat-hangs are fun.
Just Hangin’ Around
How this got started was that there was a problem in the cave section of the bouldering wall at my gym that required a bat-hang. Or that was the slightly easier way to do the problem. Maybe.
The idea of the bat-hang is, one must hang from their toe’s upside down on a flat and large juggy hold or incut rock from a steep wall. Look for a flat or incut jug wide enough for both feet, from which you can envision yourself dangling.
I’m not familiar with them, so I struggled to get the hang of it. I almost got it but couldn’t entirely stay on long enough before I had to come down. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to complete it. A couple of days later, the problem was reset and no more bat-hang. 😔 However, it got me wanting to try the move again if I get a chance.
Be The Bat 🦇
To properly bat-hang, this is what’s recommended from a Friction Labs Climbing 101 article.
- Place the edge of the hold just above your toe joints. This spot is the most reliable, most stable, and least painful area on the top of your foot.
- Try to keep your feet and toes rigidly perpendicular to your legs. Lock your knee and hamstring and flex your thighs and calves. Envision pulling your toes back toward your knee.
- Keep your legs as straight and tense. If you let any tension out —by bending your knees or loosening your ankles, for example— you’ll fall.
- Try to keep your upper body in control as well. You can range your torso considerably, from bent upwards to parallel with your legs, if your legs are locked into the bat-hang properly. If you flop backward into the position or let your arms flail about, the added momentum could pitch your skeleton to the ground. So, stay tight.
You must be careful when attempting this technique because you do run the risk of landing wrong on your back or head. If you want to do this outside, have a spotter and an extra crashpad under you.
Why would anyone want to do this? Here are some reasons why:
- You can rest your arms while bouldering. If you find a perfect feature—a nice limestone shelf; or a couple of sandy huecos—stick your feet in there and shake those arms out.
- Sometimes crafty route setters will try to force a certain sequence, which almost always implies climbing feet-first to a jug (or two). Kind of like what this one had me do. Here’s the idea: while facing outwards, swing your feet up towards a jug and latch it with double toe hooks, keeping tension in your legs and toes, climb into jug. You might classify this as more of a double-toe-hook move than a bat-hang, but the fundamentals are similar.
Besides, part of the fun of climbing is thinking out-of-the-box to maneuver through a problem, even if it’s weird. Sometimes though, it’s not apparent that there needs to be a bat-hang to make the next move. If you see the opportunity, take it with caution.
Even though I didn’t get to finish the problem, I used a foot technique I haven’t in a while to stay on. You might guess what it is in the next article. Until next time, happy bouldering!