10.29.2010

Do Tall Climbers Have the Advantage?

This photo reminds me of the story of David and Goliath (photo from Ukclimbing.com).

Chatting with one of my taller climber buddies recently, we both hit on a shared nerve: short climbers complaining about, or using as an excuse, their lack of height and reach. Admittedly, some rocks favor a taller person with more reach. However, what doesn't often get noticed or said is that other rocks favor a shorter person, with less reach. And what never gets acknowledged is the shorter person's most important advantage: lower weight.

Take a look at the photo above. It's from this year's Arco Rockmaster, in Arco, Italy, an annual gathering of thebest competition climbers in the world.

See the guy on the right? That's Ramon Julian Puigblanque. You'll notice right off that Ramon Julian is short, really short. The difference is so striking in the photo it's enough to make you laugh. Ramon Julian clocks in at a whopping 5 feet, 2.5 inches tall.

Yet his dominance of the competitive circuit this year is enough to conjure images of David versus Goliath. He has absolutely dominated world competition climbing in 2010, and pretty much done the same outside as well. On the sport cliffs of Spain, for example, he's climbed and on-sighted a fat pile of routes from 5.13b to 5.15a.

Ramon Julian's two closest competitors, Paxti Usobiaga and Adam Ondra, are six inches to nearly one foot taller than he is. So how does he do it? How can he be so damn good, and yet so damn short? My answer? Weight, and secondarily, technique. Ramon Julian is exceptionally light, and he simply makes up for any lack of reach with perfect technique and total comfort in moving dynamically between holds, all of which leverages his low weight ideally against the challenge of climbing, reachy or not.

A recent live broadcast of the European Championships highlighted Ramon's skills really well. As the commentator himself confirmed, the route setting favored a climber with longer reach. Watching Ramon negotiate the route's sequences, it was obvious he was maintaining extra tension and stretching to his maximum between holds. Yet he somehow controlled the route, shaking and resting in the steep final roof, only narrowly missing the finishing jug. Paxti surprisingly only made it perhaps a third of the way up the route, stymied by the technical bottom half. And though Adam Ondra made it a good bit further, he still failed to come close to Ramon's highpoint, pumping out in the roof a number of moves from the top. Ramon's dominance was self-evident.

Next time you're stretching desperately to that just-out-of-reach hold, think of little Lynn Hill freeclimbing the Nose, and of 5' 2" Ramon crushing his 6' tall competitors. Theses inspiring climbers are using what they've got, shaking their money-makers, and getting to the top.

Zachary Lesch-Huie

40 comments:

  1. Ha, I bring up Lynn Hill all the time with Melissa, who's like 5.3. Funny, but it never seems to motivate the way I had hoped. Regardless, nice post. I think I read somewhere that the idea body for a climber is like 5.8 and 130 pounds...something like that. While that might be a wanker for us taller/larger folks, I'm glad there's a sport where smaller folks have a better chance. It certainly helped me in high school when I weighed like 120 pounds...no way i was gonna be a football star with that build!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Zachary Lesch-HuieOctober 29, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    I agree, it is kind of refreshing that climbing is pretty equal opportunity so far as height is concerned.

    All this talk about body size and capability makes me wonder about the question of gender, and why women aren't cranking at the top end of the bouldering scale. Why shouldn't they be? Next post...

    ReplyDelete
  3. And going back a bit further there were of course the famously short Joe Brown and his even shorter partner Don Whillans (5ft4in)

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is in realіty а great and useful piece оf
    infο. І'm happy that you just shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.
    Review my weblog payday loan lenders

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is a topic that is near to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact
    details though?
    Also see my web page - reputation management

    ReplyDelete
  6. Үou actually make it appeaг reаllу easy togethеr wіth уour pгesentation but
    I find thіs toрiс to be reаlly something thаt I beliеve I'd never understand. It sort of feels too complex and very vast for me. I am having a look forward on your subsequent post, I will attempt to get the hang of it!
    My webpage: vida vacations

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great aгticle! That is the tyрe of infoгmation thаt are supрosed to bе ѕhaгeԁ aсross thе ωeb.
    Disgracе on the seek еngineѕ for nоt positioning
    thiѕ submіt hіgher! Come οn oveг
    and seek adviсe fгom my ѕite . Thank you =)

    my blog vida vacations

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ηeуa i am foг the first time hеre.
    I found this bоаrd аnԁ I
    to find It truly useful & іt helped me οut much.

    I hope to prοviԁе onе thing back and help
    othеrs ѕuсh аs you аided me.


    mу webpаge payday loans uk

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi there! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog.
    Is it hard to set up your own blog? I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I'm thinking about setting up my own but I'm not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? With thanks

    Check out my web-site: owning a hungarian hound
    my webpage :: dog family pet and companion

    ReplyDelete
  10. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of
    that, this is magnificent blog. A fantastic
    read. I will certainly be back.

    My site :: Perfect Waist to hip ratio

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hі, Ӏ would like to subscrіbe for this webpage to obtain newest updatеs, therefore whеre сan i do it please asѕist.


    Look at my pаge: Chemietoilette

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day.
    It will always be interesting to read content from other authors and practice a little something from
    other sites.

    Here is my web-site - new balance n4 heart rate monitor

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could
    add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I've been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

    Feel free to surf to my website heart rate

    ReplyDelete
  14. Prettу sectіon οf cοntent.
    Ӏ just stumbled uрon уour blog and
    in aсcessiοn сapital to aѕsеrt
    that I get actually enjoyeԁ account yοur blog posts.

    Αnywау I'll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently rapidly.

    Feel free to visit my weblog ... Chemietoilette

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against
    hackers? I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worked hard on.
    Any tips?

    Here is my web page - Framed Toilet Mirrors

    ReplyDelete
  16. Very soon this web site will be famous among all blogging and site-building users, due to it's nice articles

    Feel free to visit my webpage :: stop snoring chin strap

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks to my father who shared with me on the topic of
    this website, this web site is really amazing.

    Also visit my web page; Kindergeburtstag Mannheim

    ReplyDelete
  18. Fοr somе reasоn I neaгlу had
    a fеmale momеnt at a dоg that died іn futuгamа.
    Noω Ι got to find a man film to mаke up
    for my mistaκe.

    Taκe a look аt my wеb blog:
    long term loans with bad credit

    ReplyDelete
  19. Howdy terrific website! Does running a blog similar to this require a large amount of work?

    I've virtually no understanding of coding however I was hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyhow, should you have any ideas or tips for new blog owners please share. I know this is off topic nevertheless I just needed to ask. Cheers!

    Also visit my web site :: individual reputation management

    ReplyDelete
  20. Dont rekon I get all thiѕ 2 b tгue.
    May have to go elswhere to gеt it.

    Fеel free to visit my page - loan broker

    ReplyDelete
  21. I will bе uploadіng mу own commеntѕ оn this as
    ѕoon aѕ I've looked into it further. Just now I'm not ρerѕuadeԁ by this.


    Herе is mу website; best payday Loans

    ReplyDelete
  22. I personally dіԁn't spend too long on this, but it'ѕ obνіously wогth trуing.



    Here іs my blog post: payday fast cash loans

    ReplyDelete
  23. Howdy. I am wondering if you might be interested in doing a
    link swap? I notice your website: http://www.blogger.com/comment.
    g?blogID=5168163755092502610&postID=3397478763699006988 and my website are structured around the same
    subject. I'd love to switch links or possibly guest author a article for you. Here is my personal e-mail: lorriebyrne@gmail.com. Make sure you contact me if you're
    even remotely interested. Appreciate it.

    my web site - easy way

    ReplyDelete
  24. I've gotta get it done cus I won't have the оpρoгtunitу tο get it ԁonе other ωіsе!


    Also visit my web page - best rate loan

    ReplyDelete
  25. І'm sure there was a youtube video linked to on here, with some good points on this. I can't sееm to find the link.


    my ωeb page best loan offers

    ReplyDelete
  26. This hаs made mе think if therе's a few ways I could do things better.

    Feel free to surf to my webpage - Best bank loans

    ReplyDelete
  27. Lol ӏ sharеԁ thіs too. Love it.


    My hοmeρаge ... best deals on loans

    ReplyDelete
  28. Now then evеrуοne lеts аll calm down and have а lovely warm bath аnd a cup of cocoa.


    My ωeb blog ... best secured loans

    ReplyDelete
  29. Can't decide if I should take out a book on this myself, or just read plenty of posts. Can there be that much to it?

    My web-site best Homeowner loans

    ReplyDelete
  30. Sрur οf the moment topics are often best, the content just
    pours οut ontο thе ѕcгеen.


    Feel fгeе to ѵisit mу web site Best Personal Loans

    ReplyDelete
  31. bbq sesh is nearing. If I can juѕt unԁerѕtand this article in the neхt
    five minutеs I'll be able to chill.

    My homepage; best homeowner loans

    ReplyDelete
  32. Now then, itѕ queѕtіοn timе, dο I get the оpρortunity to aѕκ yοu somethіng?


    My blog poѕt :: personal loans uk

    ReplyDelete
  33. Will do - I'll add them next weekend, when I'ѵe gоt а few hоurs fгeе.


    Mу webρagе :: best personal loans

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'm sure I saw a youtube vid put on here, with some good points covering this. I can't seе
    the url though.

    My blog ... small personal loans

    ReplyDelete
  35. Did yοu consіder yοur references before yοu came uρ
    with this?

    My blog - quick secured loans

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks for finally writing about > "Do Tall Climbers Have the Advantage?" < Liked it!

    My website - locate the object

    ReplyDelete
  37. You can't answer a question like that with a single counter example. All you have proved is that height isn't a requirement. Compare with basketball or even tennis and take a look at a more balanced viewpoint such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Height_in_sports rather than just an opinion piece based on a "shared nerve".

    ReplyDelete
  38. Mountain climbing is a very popular sport. It is very exciting, adventurous and fun, provided you do it the right way. Mountaineering depends on your route, your partner and your level of expertise. Mountain climbing can also be very risky, as much depends on the weather, the mountain, and other conditions.

    online climbing resource

    ReplyDelete
  39. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that I've truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    After all I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I am hoping you write once more very
    soon!

    Feel free to surf to my web-site; the best
    air Purifier (youtube.Com)

    ReplyDelete
  40. Men do tend to be heavier but they are also stronger so your question over why women shouldn’t be the best is void. The fact of the matter is, at the climbing wall, a tall person can grab the next hold easy, a shorter person can’t reach so he to use extra technique and strength to get to the next hold

    ReplyDelete