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#67391 - 02/11/13 08:56 PM Help in Climbing/Leading Roofs
tallgirlnyc Offline

Registered: 05/12/08
Posts: 194
Loc: Cold Spring NY
I have some trouble leading roofs/overhangs. (To be honest, mostly what I lead are overhangs).
Even in the gym, approaching an overhang I start to psych myself out, start slowing down, losing confidence.

I am 6'1" and often feel like my center of gravity is about forty feet from my hands.
A few of the overhangs that don't give me trouble..1st pitch of Modern Times, 2nd pitch of Stop the Presses Mr. Williams. Overhangs that do give me trouble...No Picnic, 3rd pitch of Maria, 1st pitch Tequila Mockingbird, 2nd pitch Drunkards Delight...I could go on indefinitely.

My question is: Any suggestions or strategies for getting better at roofs/overhangs? Anyone else struggled and overcome?

Any and all help appreciated. Thanks!


#67392 - 02/11/13 09:11 PM Re: Help in Climbing/Leading Roofs [Re: tallgirlnyc]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5979
Loc: 212 land
I suspect that there will be quite a few tips you'll get and they will differ. Weightlifting worked for me in my day. I also suspect that being strong helped my mind, especially conquering fear of failure due to lack of endurance. I've seen people weaker than me do better than me on overhangs and roofs due just due to mind over matter. And, alas, I offer no tips about that.

#67394 - 02/11/13 11:06 PM Re: Help in Climbing/Leading Roofs [Re: tallgirlnyc]
crimpy Offline

Registered: 07/02/11
Posts: 331
Loc: Wawarsing
more aggressive shoes?

#67395 - 02/12/13 12:11 AM Re: Help in Climbing/Leading Roofs [Re: crimpy]
Rickster Online   content
old hand

Registered: 10/16/07
Posts: 853
Loc: Orange Cty, NY
Go back to the beginning. Spend some time on all those easier climbs with overlaps, overhangs etc.. Wrap your mind around the experience of turning your back to the ground, not being able to see what's up above you, or reaching "blindly" over the lip, getting your hips positioned properly under the overhang and then as you move around. Or that commitment necessary to move that first foot over the lip. There are after all many easy overhang climbs for getting more comfortable with the experience. A couple of days early in the season will pay dividends later. Good luck and enjoy.

#67396 - 02/12/13 04:18 AM Re: Help in Climbing/Leading Roofs [Re: Rickster]
rg@ofmc Online   content

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2472
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
I think you'll get a lot of good advice about technique and mental attitude, and there are important things to be said about these things.

But I'm going to suggest you go on a crusade to increase your hand endurance. There is nothing like being able to hang on to improve your footwork, body position, and mental outlook. Not to mention you have the gas to get in higher gear and have enough reserves to climb down if things aren't working out.

There's a ton of advice out there on this subject. I'm interested myself, since it has turned out to be very hard at my advanced age to recover hand endurance after seven months of being out of action from my ACL repair. I can only say that many of the recommendations from books and the internet I've read haven't really worked for me, perhaps because they are really aimed at a much younger and much more capable person. I think all you can do is read up and experiment with a bunch of things and try to discover what works best for you.

Here are three observations that may or may not be of any use: (1) You can go a long way in the Gunks if you can endure and recover on big holds. So don't make the exercises all about fingertip stuff. (2) Spend some time climbing up and down routes in the gym. (3) Outdoor advice: don't be pulling on horizontals when you could be hand-jamming or finger-locking the same features. And if a horizontal tapers to the left say, then you can often get a sideways jam or lock and lean left against it to rest in a spot where otherwise you'd be gripping hard by pulling straight down.

#67398 - 02/12/13 01:47 PM Re: Help in Climbing/Leading Roofs [Re: rg@ofmc]
anthonyb Offline

Registered: 10/21/08
Posts: 38
Loc: Paris, France
Are you using energy saving techniques like:

arching your back to transfer weight to your feet when the overhang is pushing your body out from the rock and you only have feet below the overhang

using your pectoral muscles to reach across your body to grab a higher hold when you've lock off an arm rather than hanging from a bent arm

working your feet up high when you have a good under-cling available

searching for stemming opportunities to get weight off of your arms

getting a high foot and rocking your weight over top of it (most handy after surmounting the overhang)

Do you ever go out to just boulder? Whether indoors or outdoors you will find yourself frequently climbing overhanging rock. This will make you stronger and more confident (which will help prevent overgripping and panic) when you find overhangs on lead.

#67399 - 02/12/13 02:46 PM Re: Help in Climbing/Leading Roofs [Re: anthonyb]
SethG Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 713
Loc: NYC
Without knowing anything but what I'm reading here, I suspect your problem may be mental more than anything else. Sounds like you have trouble committing and then flame out. The overhangs you mention as problematic are all very different-- the Drunkard's roof is a straightforward overhanging jug haul but Maria and Tequila Mockingbird are more puzzles involving roof avoidance than true roof pulls. But in all these situations if you are paralyzed you won't make it.
It's true, I have a blog.

#67401 - 02/12/13 05:10 PM Re: Help in Climbing/Leading Roofs [Re: SethG]
Dana Offline

Registered: 07/13/00
Posts: 619
No Picnic and Tequila Mockingbird are undergraded. The overhang of No Picnic is, I think, a bit harder than the 5.8 climb immediately to its right, Shit or Go Blind. Tequila Mockingbird is very strenuous in nature and at the risk of perpuating the old urban myth of 'Gunks ratings, if that pitch was anywhere else besides the 'Gunks it would be rated a grade or two higher.

I think practice in stress-free situations is key. Climbing is like any other physical skill. It takes a lot of repetition to reach the point of intuitive performance, so if you can toprope a lot of roofs eventually you'll learn to do it. One of the great comp climbers of the 90s said that he won all the World Cups not because he was stronger and more fit than his competitors; he said simply climbed more efficiently. He spent countless hours analyzing his climbing movements, the movements of others, watching videos, etc. He realized that the same climbing "situations" happened over and over again and there was an effective, efficent solution to each one. Because of this approach, he could reach an overhang, quickly recognize what the problem was and plug in the right technique. He once remarked that he would see 5.14 climbers get to a roof and act as if they had never seen one before.
With lots and lots of practice you'll gain strength, you'll gain enough experience so that the proper approach/technique to the roof you're trying will be right there in your mental data bank, and you'll gain confidence, as well. You'll reach an overhang and you'll know what to do, you'll know you have the strength to do it, and you'll have the confidence that you can. Lots and lots of practice in a safe learning environment.

Edited by Dana (02/12/13 05:11 PM)

#67402 - 02/12/13 05:51 PM Re: Help in Climbing/Leading Roofs [Re: Dana]
KathyS Offline

Registered: 01/10/08
Posts: 196
Loc: NY, USA
I feel better about having struggled to lead No Picnic last summer, knowing I'm not the only one who thought it was hard for its grade.

#67403 - 02/12/13 09:37 PM Re: Help in Climbing/Leading Roofs [Re: KathyS]
TerrieM Offline

Registered: 05/14/09
Posts: 425
Loc: Gunks in Summer, Southwest in ...
Dana - For me,the No Picnic overhang is quite a bit easier than the Shot or Go Blind one! Tequila. I have only gotten on once, and can't recall.

You ARE a tall girl...and I think as a woman, you are right that your center of balance is going to be different than that of a tall guy.

I wonder if it wouldn't be helpful to have someone who you KNOW is good at analyzing body dynamics and stuff watch you (maybe even from a fixed line) work on some of those roofs to see if they can make some helpful suggestions. They could say 'try this" while you are in the moves(maybe on TR, and not on lead...) so you could compare on the spot.

edit - haha - I got Dan and Dana mixed up there... but my post still worked.

Edited by TerrieM (02/12/13 09:39 PM)

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