Day 27: Beware the high-step

IMG_5523A high step move is used to gain a further position up the wall when it appears you cannot reach it from the feet on which you are currently positioned. Sometimes this high step move is necessary or helpful, but I am seeing it over used for small and tall people alike. If you find yourself high stepping all of the time, it’s a clue that you are under utilizing another skill.

If you are a short person, the tendency to high step can become a frequent means to pull yourself up the wall. However, the key word there is “pull”. This type of movement frequently results in one having to pull themselves up, which uses a lot of energy. If  you watch a tall person climb, you might be surprised to see that they are doing the same thing. In both cases, the moves seem far and the high step a logical choice for movement.

However, most likely, the climbers have squared themselves to the wall or have not built confidence to use sections of the wall that don’t appear to have holds. First, if you are climbing indoors as a beginner, know that you don’t have to use all of the holds given to you on a route. You can skip holds (beware the high-step) or choose to leverage off the wall, rather than use a specific hold. When outdoors, the holds can be more obscure and the usable surface of the wall counter intuitive. It’s takes some time to learn to trust different kind of body positions and feet

To counter the high-step and gain a higher purchase with less or no pulling, try some of these tips:

  1. Extend off only one of the foot holds by letting the other foot come off its hold
  2. Use texture or other features of the wall to gain a slightly higher stance
  3. Turn your body into the wall more (hip of the reaching hand into the wall, knee turning inward, toes leading the direction)
  4. Make smaller movements upward with the feet (use less obvious footholds)

If you do these things, you will save yourself energy and climb more efficiently. High stepping bends the arms making you pull yourself up the wall, which is taxing and will fatigue your power muscles quickly. Bending of the arms is a powerful way to climb. Adapting to a new way of moving will be awkward at first but have some patience, it will come together over time. Practice during your warm up and after awhile, avoiding the high step will become second nature.

Good luck!

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About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climbing athlete and computer software/technology enthusiast.
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2 Responses to Day 27: Beware the high-step

  1. Calvin Landrus says:

    Good thoughts. Have you done much moonboarding? That system emphasis high-stepping. I’m not sure how helpful that is unless your project is like that. The high-stepping does force you to use more power on the handholds though. That’s probably good.

    • Thanks for bringing this up! This emphasizes my point. High steps are powerful techniques and hence great for the Moonboard, which maximizes power training for it’s small space. High steps can be useful tools and should be used intentionally.

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