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Learning to climb.. on slab
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YouWill787


Sep 23, 2011, 9:17 AM
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Learning to climb.. on slab
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So I am a new climber and I haven't started out in a gym like most. I've been climbing with some partners in Colorado Springs doing nothing but slab. Now, I had heard the term slab before but didn't really understand what it meant until I started climbing it.

I found it difficult at first to get used to trusting my feet and trying to just use my hands to balance myself, but I seemed to get used to the idea pretty quickly. I was climbing a lot of routes where I'd have small cracks/seams in the rock for very slight foot holds (maybe just the edge of my toe) and then I would get to a section where it was bare, I mean there was absolutely nothing to hold what so ever. I had a hard time with aeas like this, so I'd like some advice on how to look for where I need to place my feet on areas like this or how my foot should rest against the rock?

But to move on to my real question:

Maybe it's just me but I feel like beginning with a lot of slab climbing will make climbing a nice wall seem easier. The fact that I am learning to climb on very thin cracks and with little hand holds. Even though the route is not vertical, it feels as though the movement and placement of hands/feet is more advanced than say a 5.7 on a nice wall with lots of holds and cracks. Is it crazy for me to think I am going to be much more confident on a good, juggy, granite, vertical wall. Is this a bad way to go?

Any one had any experience with this? Or know of this method of learning may be counter productive?


johnwesely


Sep 23, 2011, 9:24 AM
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Re: [YouWill787] Learning to climb.. on slab [In reply to]
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When climbing blank slab, look to little dishes, ripples, or crystals for purchase. Your instinct may be to keep your foot tense and raise your heel to "dig in", but it is actually much better to drop the heel and maximize contact area between the shoe and the rock. Relax and stay calm. It is a weird style of climbing for sure.


lena_chita
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Sep 23, 2011, 11:17 AM
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Re: [YouWill787] Learning to climb.. on slab [In reply to]
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5.7 is a 5.7, and I wouldn't call one kind of 5.7 more "advanced" than the other.

Learning to climb on slab will make you good at climbing on slab. Sure, slab can be mentally challenging because the fall seems really scary, and because you are trusting that your feet will stay on essentially nothing.

But the first time you try to climb a vertical crack or a juggy roof of the same grade that you are climbing on slabs, you will likely find that they feel much more difficult than the same grade feels on slabs, simply because you are not used to those kinds of climbs. The reverse is also true-- take a climber who learned to climb overhanging routes and put him on slab, and he will likely feel that the slab is graded more stiffly than the overhanging climbs he is used to. Put either a slab climber or an overhanging jughaul climber on a splitter crack for the first time, and they both will feel that the crack is hard. Each kind will teach you a different set of skills and techniques.

There is nothing wrong with learning to climb the way you do. people starting to climb in a different place might be learning completely different skill set, but so what? Learning to climb outside, you are probably also learning a lot of things that gym climbers never get to see/experience, and that is all good, assuming that you have people who know what they are doing teaching you.

Some people stick to only one kind of climbing that they are familiar with and find enjoyable, while whining that all other kinds of climbing are either too hard or too lame. Other people eventually diversify, and usually get stronger because of it.


Partner cracklover


Sep 23, 2011, 12:31 PM
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Re: [lena_chita] Learning to climb.. on slab [In reply to]
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lena_chita wrote:
5.7 is a 5.7, and I wouldn't call one kind of 5.7 more "advanced" than the other.

Learning to climb on slab will make you good at climbing on slab. Sure, slab can be mentally challenging because the fall seems really scary, and because you are trusting that your feet will stay on essentially nothing.

But the first time you try to climb a vertical crack or a juggy roof of the same grade that you are climbing on slabs, you will likely find that they feel much more difficult than the same grade feels on slabs, simply because you are not used to those kinds of climbs. The reverse is also true-- take a climber who learned to climb overhanging routes and put him on slab, and he will likely feel that the slab is graded more stiffly than the overhanging climbs he is used to. Put either a slab climber or an overhanging jughaul climber on a splitter crack for the first time, and they both will feel that the crack is hard. Each kind will teach you a different set of skills and techniques.

There is nothing wrong with learning to climb the way you do. people starting to climb in a different place might be learning completely different skill set, but so what? Learning to climb outside, you are probably also learning a lot of things that gym climbers never get to see/experience, and that is all good, assuming that you have people who know what they are doing teaching you.

Some people stick to only one kind of climbing that they are familiar with and find enjoyable, while whining that all other kinds of climbing are either too hard or too lame. Other people eventually diversify, and usually get stronger because of it.

I think this is mostly true.

But while I have no great evidence for it, I suspect that climbers who start on slab will quickly learn important lessons about center-of-gravity movement and reliance on footwork that are really important to learn early in the game, before you develop too much reliance on hand strength.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that the specific skills learned in slab climbing are particularly transferable to very steep climbing.

But there is a meta-skill involved in slab climbing - of being forced to find just the right position/movement of the spine, hips, and shoulders that gets your weight over your feet, where if you get it wrong it can mean the immediate difference between moving up or falling. This mindset, which is *forced* on you slab climbing, will pay dividends on every single type of climbing.

GO


bearbreeder


Sep 23, 2011, 12:53 PM
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Re: [YouWill787] Learning to climb.. on slab [In reply to]
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i started on slab/lower angle cracks ... i wont say my footwork is better than anyone elses

its a different type of climbing, which you WILL have to get somewhat proficient at of you want to cllimb the bigger walls in squamish and i suspect yosemite/tuolume ... and other granite peaks in the world

ive seen people who climb 5.12 sport who mentally freak out on runnout 5.7 slab ... not that they cant physically do it cause yr grandma could ... but because they dont practice it ...

a good climber will become at least somewhat proficient at every type of climbing he/she is likely to encounter

techniques for slab ...
http://www.climbing.com/...ue_-_heels_of_steel/
http://www.climbing.com/.../techtips/tttrad216/


shane123


Sep 26, 2011, 4:30 AM
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Re: [YouWill787] Learning to climb.. on slab [In reply to]
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I am newer too. I haven't done it before might i will get hurt but i will do until i learn it properly.


shockabuku


Sep 26, 2011, 6:53 AM
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Keep your hips over your feet and fight the instinct to lean in toward the rock. Your body should remain fairly vertical, not close in. This maximizes the pressure that your feet put on the rock and gives you the best grip. Remember that in order for your shoes to work - they have to be applying pressure on the rock. The more pressure you have, the greater the friction the shoes experience.

As always, precision placement of the feet is important and learning what you can stand on and what you can't takes experience. Building up the strength of your feet takes some time.


jorgegonzalez


Sep 26, 2011, 3:33 PM
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Re: [shockabuku] Learning to climb.. on slab [In reply to]
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I'm impressed with the quality of advice you are getting; I agree with all of it.

Make sure to keep your body weight over your feet, stand up, don't slant in. Now you'll realize why your hands are mostly for balance, gain elevation with your feet.

As with riding horses, always keep your heels down. Move slow, but don't stop for too long, perpetual movement is best. climb like a spider, keep your eyes on your feet as much as your hands.


ceebo


Sep 27, 2011, 6:13 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Learning to climb.. on slab [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
lena_chita wrote:
5.7 is a 5.7, and I wouldn't call one kind of 5.7 more "advanced" than the other.

Learning to climb on slab will make you good at climbing on slab. Sure, slab can be mentally challenging because the fall seems really scary, and because you are trusting that your feet will stay on essentially nothing.

Might as well end thread.

But the first time you try to climb a vertical crack or a juggy roof of the same grade that you are climbing on slabs, you will likely find that they feel much more difficult than the same grade feels on slabs, simply because you are not used to those kinds of climbs. The reverse is also true-- take a climber who learned to climb overhanging routes and put him on slab, and he will likely feel that the slab is graded more stiffly than the overhanging climbs he is used to. Put either a slab climber or an overhanging jughaul climber on a splitter crack for the first time, and they both will feel that the crack is hard. Each kind will teach you a different set of skills and techniques.

There is nothing wrong with learning to climb the way you do. people starting to climb in a different place might be learning completely different skill set, but so what? Learning to climb outside, you are probably also learning a lot of things that gym climbers never get to see/experience, and that is all good, assuming that you have people who know what they are doing teaching you.

Some people stick to only one kind of climbing that they are familiar with and find enjoyable, while whining that all other kinds of climbing are either too hard or too lame. Other people eventually diversify, and usually get stronger because of it.

I think this is mostly true.

But while I have no great evidence for it, I suspect that climbers who start on slab will quickly learn important lessons about center-of-gravity movement and reliance on footwork that are really important to learn early in the game, before you develop too much reliance on hand strength.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that the specific skills learned in slab climbing are particularly transferable to very steep climbing.

But there is a meta-skill involved in slab climbing - of being forced to find just the right position/movement of the spine, hips, and shoulders that gets your weight over your feet, where if you get it wrong it can mean the immediate difference between moving up or falling. This mindset, which is *forced* on you slab climbing, will pay dividends on every single type of climbing.

GO


sungam


Sep 28, 2011, 5:31 AM
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Re: [shane123] Learning to climb.. on slab [In reply to]
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shane123 wrote:
I am newer too. I haven't done it before might i will get hurt but i will do until i learn it properly.
Just cuz I'm mean.


rockclimber1


Oct 2, 2011, 6:14 AM
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Re: [YouWill787] Learning to climb.. on slab [In reply to]
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I wouldn't say it's counterproductive. Although it's true that only climbing on slab will really only improve your slab abilities (you won't be able to learn how to knee drop, heel hook, etc), what you will learn is balance and this will help your climbing on all kinds of angles. But unless slab is all you're going to climb on, you should definitely get out onto some other terrain.


YouWill787


Oct 2, 2011, 5:37 PM
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Re: [YouWill787] Learning to climb.. on slab [In reply to]
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Thanks for all the replies..

So far I have only climbed sandstone slab. How about granite slab?

I have heard it is much more abrasive when you slide on it. Seems like granite would be much easier to grip and keep your foot placement, you also have all the little crystals and stuff to fingernail. Would someone say granite slab is more slippery than sandstone?

I climb in Colorado Springs and I may be wrong to consider it sandstone but i find it so hard sometimes because a lot of routes are just bare in the sense that there is literally nothing to hold on to. I feel like granite would offer much more traction, and like I said the crystals would help, at least a little.
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Bats


Oct 2, 2011, 6:26 PM
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The way I tell noobs think how a monkey looks crawling. It seems to help them to visualize that than trying explain the whole center of gravity thing.



Partner cracklover


Oct 3, 2011, 10:23 AM
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Re: [YouWill787] Learning to climb.. on slab [In reply to]
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YouWill787 wrote:
Thanks for all the replies..

So far I have only climbed sandstone slab. How about granite slab?

I have heard it is much more abrasive when you slide on it. Seems like granite would be much easier to grip and keep your foot placement, you also have all the little crystals and stuff to fingernail. Would someone say granite slab is more slippery than sandstone?

Granite varies tremendously. On one hand you have stuff like J-Tree, which is just the way you imagine - most of it is super-grippy. But on the other extreme, you'll find granite with glacial polish, which is like a mirror. Most stuff is somewhere in between.

Often on granite slabs, you'll have a mostly fairly smooth surface, broken by cracks and large crystal nubbins, each of which offers something better than the general surface.

GO


gunkiemike


Oct 3, 2011, 3:46 PM
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Trusting your feet is key to keeping your weight over them. Which often equates to having your butt sticking out (second pic).






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