Shorty Beta: Help for the Vertically Challenged
“Are you kidding me? I can’t flippin’ reach that. This is a tall person’s problem.” The thoughts occasionally go through my head climbing harder boulder problems or routes. These are also the times where I wish my arms and legs were longer.
In this article, I want to focus on beta that will hopefully be useful for all of you shorties out there, including myself, when coming across out-of-reach holds. I try to mentally map out what I need to do and where to go before climbing. But sometimes the spacing in-between holds takes me by surprise. Therefore, I need to rethink and adjust for my size.
So, without further ado, here’s my shorty beta.
- Crossing Arms
- High Feet
- Hand and Foot Matching
- Curl Up
- Using Tiny Holds
Twist Then Shout
Sometimes when going for higher holds, one might need just a little extra length. As one reaches up, twisting your body into the wall can give you just enough height to grab the next hold. Doing this can also help keep your balance in check. If you twist, it might work in your favor to cross arms instead of using the same side arm. Either for stability or simply better reach.
Crossing Over to the Other Hold
Speaking about crossing arms, there have been times where doing this improved the climb. Whether it was because if I did use the same side, my other arm couldn’t support me and slip off. Or it felt awkward to move that way. Crossing arms is a movement one should try out while climbing so it becomes comfortable to do. When the opportunity arises to do it, it will feel like second nature.
I’ve Got... High Feet
When I’m climbing, I will come across spots in the problem or route where I can’t find good footholds to use or they’re out of reach. This is where what’s called having “high feet” comes in handy. The higher your feet can be, the better off you are.
Heel and toe hooks have helped me numerous times to achieve this. Using various sizes of holds so you can stick it there is awesome. They’re helpful keeping your stability in check and reaching for higher holds. (Have I mentioned a heel hook is my favorite leg/foot technique?) But those are not the only techniques for getting high feet.
Match My Hand with What?
Another way of achieving this is matching your foot with your hand on the same hold. I know this sounds weird but it works. If I need to do a hand/foot match, I’m already grabbing onto the hold I need to get my foot to. It’s usually wrapped around it or at least grabbing the top of it.
I bend my knee towards my torso far as I need to and stick it to the side of the hold closest to me. From here, I’m stable enough to push up to reach the next one.
What I’ve noticed about being small is if I need to pull my leg in like that, it’s easy for me. My taller climbing partners can’t quite do it to my extent. If you can use that technique, do it. I highly recommend it. There have been times where doing a hand/foot match was the only way I could climb up. Plus, it’s kind of fun to show off to your friends. ;)
The previous two paragraphs made me think of something else I’ve observed which is curling up while climbing. Being short helps curling up into tight spots, especially on problems. Some starting moves require a short distance from the floor or are better sit-starts. For shorties, there isn’t a whole lot of distance to worry about when grabbing the holds. So, sending shouldn’t be too bad.
I’ve Got the Whole Crimp in My Hand
Now this beta might not work for everyone. But I’m throwing this out there because it has helped me on certain roped routes. I have small hands and so I can grab onto smaller holds. Some of the tiny crimpy holds that are meant to be foot holds can be used as handholds.
This may depend on your finger strength and balance whether it will help you climb up or not. These kinds of holds may be a good in-between hold to hang on. However, they might hurt like hell until you can grab a better hold. I don’t recommend doing this too much because of the likelihood of straining your fingers. That’s never fun to do.
I hope my beta is useful enough to help you send the next time you find yourself stuck on a route or problem that seems out-of-reach. If you do, don’t get discouraged because you’re short. Feel free to gripe and bitch about it but know it’s possible to climb it.
As I said earlier in the article, there are routes and problems I too come across and reexamine to make it doable for me to send. Just because you’re short doesn’t mean you can’t send it. You can do it, just make it work for you. Until next time, happy bouldering!