Good rock climbers climb so hard, they make it look easy, do nothing in haste and look well into every step. They know, what is at the top is all the experience that you learn to get there.
The safety of your climb depends well on your approach and technique. More the perfection in your skilled moves, the more smooth the performance to the top. One such unique climbing technique is called Deadpoint Climbing.
It takes patience, time, and determination to acquire proficiency in a skilled climbing technique. However, practice makes one pro.
What is Deadpoint Climbing?
Metaphorically, deadpointing is an advanced rock climbing technique performed at the edge of the world where one wrong shift could make everything come crashing down.
In other words, this controlled dynamic approach is used when the climber is in an insecure position in a difficult part of the climb where he must extend his body in such a way that he reaches the distant hold without losing his footing and without falling down. Such a place on the rock, where the gravity is pulling the climber down, and there is no direct hold for him to escape, is known as a deadpoint. It is the point of no coming back.
Instead of succumbing to this fearful situation, the climber uses an advanced technique in which he turns his hips inward with feet firmly holding the ground, and extends his upper body and arms towards the next hold while turning himself towards the wall, saving himself from being pulled down by gravity, incurring a brief moment of weightlessness, this approach is called deadpointing. It’s like the step of judgment which decides whether you live or lose.
This is a split second opportunity, not to be missed or let go of, instead of falling away from the flat wall, the climber boldly grabs hold of the nearest seemingly unapproachable hold.
To execute this move right, it is started by turning the hips inward, not by extending the arms. The legs are bolted upwards without shifting from the original footholds as the arm reaches for the aimed hold.
A classic dynamic move is different from this technique. Deadpointing is not explosive and feet do not spring off from the footholds as a first step.
Why is Deadpoint Climbing important?
This technique uses inertia to guide a seemingly impossible movement. Your strength alone could not help execute it. A successful deadpointing move requires stability, appropriate use of momentum, timing, and control.
It helps you reach and grab hold of rocky supports that seem too distant for a direct approach or a simple dynamic movement.
Your legs play an important role in providing stability and the push required for upper body extension so that your whole body acts like a spring.
This approach is the foothold of a good climber.
When should you deadpoint?
There comes a situation in rock climbing when your body is fully extended but a jump for the next hold would make you unstable and risk a drop. Deadpointing is useful when the climber is in such a place that the only other choice is to fall down.
How to deadpoint?
The mastering of this technique requires dedication and practice. There are three main steps involved that must be carried out smoothly in proper time.
Firm grounding of your feet
Your feet should be stable and tightly fixed to the ground. This is important to ensure that your body isn’t destabilized during the motion.
This is the first step. Shifting your feet could result in loss of balance and a fatal fall.
Turning hips inward
The next step is to quickly turn your hips inward and bring yourself closer to the wall. This movement changes the center of gravity for your body to the position from where you can execute a leap.
You are stranded at the point of no return. This movement brings an opportunity to take advantage of the rules of inertia and save yourself.
This step is critical. Your body is already fully extended. Turning your hips inward helps you maintain balance. This step is fundamental to a climber’s survival. Losing a foothold could result in a fall.
So climbers must, at the perfect time, perform this step, and at the right second, extend their body and grab the hold.
Extend and grab the next hold
This step is performed along with the inward movement of your hips, not after. This is a little lucky time to extend your upper body and arm with your hips turned inward and take hold of the next support
By shifting your body’s center of gravity, you make yourself infallible for a brief period of time. This approach will feel weightless but remember to act swiftly before the force of gravity pulls you down.
Importance of controlled dynamic moves
Deadpointing is a controlled dynamic move. A move where one portion of the body remains stable while the other moves in a guided pattern.
The movement starts from the hips, followed by the arms in a position of full extension. The feet are firmly fixed to the ground.
This technique comes handy in rough terrains and climbs.
One important aspect of controlled dynamic moves is their reliance on timing, quick action, and momentum, not on physical strength and stamina. This approach conserves energy and looks smooth and makes the impossible climb possible.
The key is to propel with your legs and drive with your arms. Keep eyes fixed on your path. Stay focussed on where you want to reach and utilize the appropriate second effectively.
Power of legs
Dynamic moves are powered by legs. They can bend and extend to propel your whole upper body as if on a spring and conserve your arm strength for the other holds. Larger footholds work in some climbs while smaller footholds help in others. Just remember that the foot opposite to the point of our hold should be higher than the other foot.
Your feet should be stably parked in the foothold for the time you are executing the move. Your feet should be positioned as high as possible for more propulsion, but not above your hips.
Direction of arms
As your legs push you upward, your arms should be straight and protracted towards the hold to provide more vertical benefit. Your arms should be used as the bat and your leg’s power. If the climb is steep, your arms need to be more drawn out.
Eye on the next hold
Your arms should be continued towards the handhold, focus, and determine to get to that hold when you leap. You should be aware of the depth of the fall but it shouldn’t block your focus of the point you got to reach.
You’ll be weightless for a moment when you attempt this move. In proper timing, this will save your life. Your body’s propulsion, extension, force, leap, pull, and catch should all align within the right timing.
On steeper climbs, when the handholds are not approachable and it is difficult to attain them with controlled static movement, deadpointing becomes your savior.
A paradigm of ‘three points’ is followed in mountaineering for beginners. This ‘three-point suspension’ rule states that a climber’s ‘two feet and one hand’, or ‘one hand and two feet’ should rest at the rock surface during the climb.
Practicing vertical leaps
A dynamic movement is required when a climber is confronted with a flat portion of rock with nothing to hold onto and a leap across the void could save land his hold upon distant support.
It is required that a firm foot plantation is built and there’s a readiness to push your body downwards to build momentum for the upward thrust. Focus and commitment towards completing the climb will get you through.
Practicing gymnastic movements
A gymnast stabilizes their feet on a good hold and then their body is momentarily in flight as they lunge upward toward the handhold. Their movement is controlled by the strength of the core muscles of the body and they use momentum to perform.
Their upward propulsion is quick, with the upper body fully extended and an engaged core.
During the whole approach and after catching the hold, you shouldn’t shift your hand or foot or move around. This is the reason it is called a dynamic move, some parts of your body remain stable while other parts are in motion. You have to master body tension and control.
With a fully extended body, doing this moment quickly, you feel weightless at a precise point like when an object going upward in the starts falling back, this moment is called a deadpoint.
Saving strength and energy
While saving you at dead points, this dynamic movement also lets you conserve your valuable energy on the rocky edge. Your stronger leg muscles supply the thrust required by the rest of the body to leap. Your arms are saved by effort so they do not get tired easily. You cannot let your arms get tired during a climb.
A dead point is more usually done with the extension of a single hand towards a single hold rather than both hands. In an ideal dynamic move, the climber completely lets go of the original footing while leaping forward.
Practice at your local gym
An indoor climbing gym is the best arena to get tough at dynamic movements. Practice at steep walls with big handholds and probably charge at the boulder problems.
Start with smaller distances between holds.
Then progress to larger gaps.
Push downwards and propel your body upwards
Assume the frog position with your feet spread out and bent knees for maximum upward thrust. Dynamic movements are charged by your legs. Rock backward and forward to build momentum as you keep your focus eyed on the aimed distant handhold.
Push hard with your legs as you leap upward. Your hips should be pushed more inwards towards the rock wall rather than outward and extend your arm straight toward the handhold.
This move requires lots of practice. Keep going.
Important points to remember
The most important tip to master deadpoint is practice. It is a complicated move with many rules to keep in mind. Here are some things you shouldn’t forget when you aim to be a pro at this move.
- The aimed handhold and your body’s center of gravity should fall in the same line. Let your hips guide your movement. You need to sweep your hips inward in a controlled and smooth manner so that your weight is transferred inwards, closer to the wall, which will prevent you from leaping away from the wall by keeping your center of gravity in alignment with the handhold.
- This move will also help you charge by rocking back and forth and build momentum to take the perfect leap.
- When you reach the aimed handhold, don’t lose the tension in your body. Keep yourself still and pay focus to firm your grip on the hold and planting your feet tightly. Abrupt movement on reaching the handhold could make you swing outward and fall.
- In order to adequately utilize the propulsion by your legs and feet and acquire stability, strengthen your core.
- Coordinate your hands and feet to simultaneously pull upward and push down respectively. Practice on different types of holds to get used to this move.
- When you force your hips inward, there is a point where you start to lose balance. This is when you leap upward. Learn to recognize this point of balance by practicing on a boarding ladder. Practice will make you efficient and improve your accuracy.
- Learn to focus entirely on the task at hand.
Avoid these common mistakes
- Leaping more ahead than required: Don’t transfer more weight than is required. You could reach far up than your aimed handhold on extra propulsion. This could also cause a grave injury.
- Not utilizing momentum: You need to drop up and down with your hips inward to build momentum. Sometimes the footing does not allow this movement. Build momentum accurately while being focussed.
- Not building tension: Your core needs to be straight and tense to utilize the upward force supplied by your legs.
- Not being swift: Coordinate the movements of the different parts of your body. Timing is everything in a dynamic move.
We hope you are able to propel and leap to the next hold whenever you incur a deadpoint, on the wall, or anywhere.