Tuesday, January 3, 2012

An Easily Avoidable Trap

"Feet outside suck. People need to learn how to smear better."

"Outside, the holds are not always comfortable."

"Well, Problem X at our local crag has this huge move in it that no girl can do. This move is just like that one."

Yep. Sometimes, outdoor climbing is unfair, sharp, and miserable.

It also rains outside, but I don't see anyone trying to patent a climbing gym weather system.

The bonus of indoor climbing is that the variables are controllable. Using outdoor conditions as an excuse for bad routesetting is an easily avoidable trap.


  1. This message needs to get out there in a big way. Other than the occasional trainer there isn't a really good reason to set bad routes just to mimic the outdoors. Generally speaking, routes with multiple stars don't have ahitty feet and awkward movement. Why set indoor routes that are bad?

  2. Agreed. I actually had to stop climbing at my local gym because they were constantly falling into this trap. It's too bad, really...

  3. I agree that route setters should strive to set enjoyable quality moves, however you can't lose sight of the fact that for many people gym climbing is done to prepare for the outdoors. Thus it can be helpful to hone your ability to onsight "awkward" moves. In fact this can make onsight lead climbing outdoors a lot safer and more fun.

  4. Monty: Like all rules of thumb, it can be taken too far - for instance, I wouldn't advocate setting all open-handed sloper problems, just to keep climbers' fingers from being injured on poor crimps. Similarly, I wouldn't expect gyms to stop setting simulators of popular problems, to only set with stomper footholds, to never set hard gaston moves, to never set dynos, etc etc. You can't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Personally, I find a harder, but more ergonomic version of a move will serve to properly prepare the muscles and muscle memory for a similar, but more awkward move. Practicing in this fashion gives the same benefits as awkward setting, but with significantly reduced chance for injury, as well as ease of repetition for training.

    Thanks for the comments!