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bear by san

March 2017



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coming up from the shipwreck, making as if to stay

Well, I escaped the evils of book hell revising long enough to go climb tonight, and had a really good night. I fell a bunch, and had to rest, but I got a brand-new blue 5.8, overhung, because they took down my orange 5.7 on the same wall. And I also did a bunch of routes I've done before, all of them better this time (including the very overhung 5.7 that has been my bete noir for Some Time Now. I may be getting to be not afraid of it anymore). That was very encouraging.

I also started a 5-something that's not yet rated, but I didn't really give it a good shot. I got on it, though, and I may go back and thrash at it on Wednesday. I also want to work on the balancy green 5.9 in the back room (I've climbed it, but not well), and the black 5.8 with all the slopers in the front room.

I'm actually kind of starting not to suck at this. If I were lighter, I think I'd be a pretty solid 5.9 climber on technique and strength, but because I am a big person, it takes a lot more effort for me to hold myself on the wall and move up than it would if I weighed 140 pounds. My strength is becoming fairly formidable, however, especially when you consider that I'm a chick. I'm even getting to the point where I don't actually hate the physical act of climbing--there are parts where I even feel competent and capable, like my body knows what it's doing and my brain can help.

It never lasts, mind you.

But boy, does this sport do fantastic things for my serotonin levels....



Hi Ms. Bear (or insert your preferred form of address),
I am a great fan of your writing, but I do have a question about your writing regarding climbing. You frequently describe 5.7 plus routes as "overhung." I live in Colorado and have climbed "guide book" routes rated 5.9+, but have never sent what I consider to be an overhung route. I think that the discrepancy may be that I don't consider a route to be overhung unless the ceiling is close to, or greater than, my body length. What do you consider overhung? Please understand that I am only curious about gym culture as I wish to get back into a beloved past-time.


Re: Overhung

What you're describing is a "roof," on the East coast, and what I'm describing is, I think, generally referred to further West as a "negative pitch." IE, the wall slopes out from the bottom to the top rather than being vertical or sloping in. (And we also use "negative" and "positive" for pitches, actually, but we also use "overhung" and "slab".)

It's not gym versus outdoors (I and everybody I climb with also climbs outdoors) I think so much as east versus west. (My friend in Texas uses the same terminology you do.) Also, apparently, New England rates about a grade harder than everywhere else in the country, and my gym is notorious for being half a grade sandbagged over that.

In Texas, I'm a 5.9 climber. *g* At my gym, there is exactly one bouldering route I can manage, and I reliably redpoint 5.7+ but not 5.8.

Edited at 2009-03-31 11:46 am (UTC)

Re: Overhung

I think easy sustained overhangs/negative pitch are rarer outside than in the gym...the overhung gym 6's and 7's I've seen tend to be big whopping bucket holds, usually incut so even my hams get a great hold. Not common on natural rock. (Although they happen...Easy O is 5.6-5.7, so 5.8-ish in CO). That was a shock when I started climbing in the gym...bad for my ego, good for building strength.

My gym is also set by lanky, stick-thin undergrads with ridiculous strength-to-weight ratios, so that skews my perception a bit. Anything that "merely" requires a one-armed pullup tends to be a 6.

Re: Overhung

Where do you climb?

Roger that on the stick-thin undergrads. We get some of that, and some older climbers who have forgotten what a 5.7 is like because everything under 5.10 is an "easy route" to them and has been for twenty years--their routes tend to be less strength and more weird balancy flagging traversy things with lots of sidepulls and slopers and--once you hit 5.9 or so--tiny little agonizing crimpers.

And then there are the tiny girls who set ridiculous high feet, because they can just hang on the hold above and move their feet up to what would be belly level on me....


The sustained negative pitch routes are much rarer outside the gym, but inside it, they do make you stroooong.

Most natural rock seems to have a slight positive pitch, with the occasional big roof or barrel. Which I am really not up to yet. I can handle a two or maybe three-foot roof if my holds are good enough, but that's about it.

Re: Overhung

Indoors, I climb at BU's gym...the massive fitness facility they put in just before I started mumble years ago has a 35' wall. It's pretty nice, but strictly face climbing. None of the slab walls you talk about or the artificial cracks I've heard some places do now. It is, however, ten minutes from my office, fifteen minutes from my apartment, and "free" in the sense of included in the various fees I pay BU. Can't be picky...twenty years ago, it probably would have been the largest indoor wall in the Northeast. And as you say, great way to work the strength.

Outdoors, I make the circuit of the Boston crags. I prefer Hammond and B&W Rocks for T-accessibility, but I make it to the Quarries occasionally. Got out to Crow Hill and the Gunks once each last year. I'm not really to the point where I'm much good as a second, but had a good winter and working on transferring that to some real rock.

Re: Overhung

Cool! I've climbed at both Metro Rock and the Boston Rock Gym, both nice outfits. Outdoors, we climb at Pinnacle, Cat Hole, Ragged Mountain. I want to make it out to the Gunks this summer maybe...

Post Script

By the way, the best climbing advice I ever got was never spoken. My former climbing buddy's girlfriend (now wife) was 5'2''. I am 6'. She could do the same routes I could (and more) without my reach. Footwork is more important than anything IMHO.

Re: Post Script

I would concur. And even more so for women.
Heh. Misread your comment about the overhung 5.7 as your "beta noir." And yay for better seratonin levels.
Hee. He's over in his OWN journal, thank you....