Sport climbing 201: Advanced tactical cragging

by We didn't write this

While this blog is full of descriptions of trad wankery and extreme toproping, I am a sport climber at heart. I consider myself well versed in the ins and outs of the activity. I think I could teach a sport climbing 101 course. Stick clipping, bolt to bolting, etc…

Smith rocks state park

Smith, baby.

However, this weekend, I saw much more advanced tactics. I will share a few highlights.

We have all been in a situation where our project is occupied by another climber. The standard thing to do is to mend the situation verbally. For example, one might kindly prod “can I please get on this after you?” Unfortunately, this is often not enough.

At this point the climber may take things into his or her own hands. Without saying anything, simply tie in and start climbing the route, unclipping the other climber’s rope from the draws and replacing it with yours. As the other climber’s points of protection dwindle, they are forced to send or retreat.

Here, Ryan demonstrates a more intricate variation of the technique where you don’t unclip the other climber’s rope but simply intimidate them off by flexing your biceps vigorously as you approach .

Many climbing areas have a technique unique to the area. Rifle has its kneebars, Yosemite has its hand jams, the Red has… well…. ahem…only jughauls. At Smith, the advanced technique seems to be the “smith rock starfish.”

Figure 2: The starfish

By smearing as much surface area on the sheer cliff as possible, this climber is able to stay on the rock. While the starfish hold can be extremely effective, it should be used sparingly. A sneeze, nervous quiver or even a slight erection due to the high quality of climbing at Smith are all things that can suddenly disrupt the integrity of the starfish hold and result in a fall.

Figure 3: Close up of the starfish

Crowding is a major problem at most crags. Every weekend, hoards of noobs descend on the best crags in the country to mudfoot and fingerfuck my project. The Smith locals seem to control crowds by collectively participate in a weather service tip off. This is where the local climbers collectively pay to predict weather worse than what will actually occur. It turns out that while gates, access alerts and parking lot limits all fail to keep the crowds down, a 20% chance of rain in the forecast can cut crag numbers in half.

A climber enjoys perfect solitude due to a successful weather tip-off

When all these tactics fail, you will have no choice but to sack up, train, and actually get strong. This climber has focused on increasing her overall talent levels and is almost reaping the rewards by almost sending her project. This abstract technique, however, is rarely seen or implemented.

Times Up, 13b

Thanks for reading,