Sunday, December 11, 2016

Blues Clues Traverse

This rest comes at the end of about 40 hand moves and involves one incut roof hold, a medium campus rung, a 1/4 inch deep foot chip as a heel hook on an arete, and a smear on the opposing side of a pine 2X4.

The problem is called the Blues Clues Traverse and it is marked with footholds only.  It becomes a choose your own adventure route, and identifying which hand holds facilitate the best movements is a big part of the difficulty.  The problem is rated 12b or V6, which I am not sure is really accurate.  It feels easier to me at this point, but it can also feel impossible to folks who, based on the numbers, ought to be able to do it.  Regardless it presents interesting challenges that teach about how to activate body positions and movement with somewhat small footholds.

The problem is primarily constructed from Ian Powell's "Sandstone Chips" which he designed several years ago, but I have not seen better technical foot chips (get them from eGrips!).  The chips have some subtle attributes which I try to take advantage of by placing them at angles that make it harder to use the preferred surface.

The day after climbing this again I could feel sore muscles in my shins from maintaining tension on the holds.  Generally I would say that this type of route offers a valuable alternative to the big and crude footholds common in indoor gyms these days.  For climbers who have gotten strong through indoor bouldering outdoor problems can be a shock because the footholds can be so small, technical, and strangely placed.   This route anticipates the devious routefinding and technical foot kung foo of harder outdoor problems.

Climbing is both a strength and a skill activity.   You need to be strong and know what to do with your whole body.  If your home gym has an area with a dense hold array you should consider setting problems with technically challenging foot options and open hands.

Here is a video of the traverse, and following that, a tour of the footholds in the order that they appear on the route.

The footholds

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