Grip A and Grip B

This is a very important post about what I believe far too many coaches and climbers neglect; grip positions. To simply state my thesis up front; I firmly believe that one should grip edges in only one of two ways; Grip position A or Grip position B.

Here we have grip position A.

This is the most powerful way to hold an edge.

One should keep in mind that whenever you are setting up for a powerful move or a hard lockoff, or really some sort of movement that is near your limit, the hand that you are moving off of should generally be in Grip position A.

Here we have Grip position B.

This is a very versatile grip which serves a number of functions, one of which is to prevent people who think Grip A is too stressful on the fingers from bitching at me.

Essentially the main purpose of this grip is increased tension and to a smaller extent some energy savings. This grip should be much more commonly used on steep walls and on very poor edges, or those where the danger of dry firing may be high.

The basic logic behind Grip B is to address the weaknesses of Grip A. Grip A requires more energy, pulls in one direction, and one cannot really do a move pre-Gripped A. Grip B is really the more dynamic grip. On dynamic moves and deadpoints one should hit edges in Grip B.

First off it is easy to hit a hold immediately into Grip B. On this note it is easy to explain some of the tension element. So on a dynamic move on the steep, you move up at the hold, your fingers connect on the hold and your body then starts to move away from the wall, right as you hit the hold your thumb should engage into Grip B, which then resists the outwards sag of your body. I think it is pretty easy to see and most people would agree it is pretty absurd to hit a hold in Grip A, if you have a video of someone going for a hold with their thumb over their fingers before on the hold please share. It is possible I suppose but completely loony.

Most people then of course hit holds open handed or half crimped without the thumb; like when climbing on campus rungs. Hitting holds without the thumb is of course very easy to do but is neglecting a very strong digit and a very high force generating grip. When actively using the thumb you have a greater chance of staying on the wall. This also will help keep your feet on as it prevents your body from moving away from the wall.

The other important and even more neglected use for Grip B is as the lower hand when the upper hand starts to connect with the next hold. In this case it is used for the same general reason; increased tension in the outwards dimension. So this is the very crucial to the steep A to B Flip. You power off a hold in Grip A and as your upper hand starts to connect on the next hold your lower hand should flip to B to help it, and your body stay on the wall. This is even more relevant if your feet cut as in this situation the lower hand will be doing next to nothing if it is not in Grip B.

And as a detail alluded to earlier, Grip B is superior on holds that you may be afraid of dry firing off of, or very poor side pulling edges. When you are in Grip A on a very poor edge you may be applying too much force in general and certainly too much force straight down. Grip B will force you to spread your weight over a slightly larger surface area on your fingers and will be applying pressure to the bottom of the hold with your thumb. This is even more relevant to very poor side pulls where if one attempts to straight A them there is too much downwards force for your hand to stay securely.

In this video you can see the B-A-B flip. Although in this particular shoot my hand cuts, but you get the idea.

And here you see a better example of hitting something with more speed in B and then flipping to A. The third to last move to the pale blue, but there are some good flips on the bottom as well but they are harder to see.

I believe that this is a very large part of training that is very neglected. I am not perfect and I am sure if you go through my videos you can find some poor grip positions. But I try to climb on edges using only these two grips. Essentially the two biggest problem most people have climbing this way is that they either overuse Grip A, or they climb half-crimped but neglect the thumb. There is no advantage to climbing without the thumb pinching the bottom of the hold (Grip B). I am aware there is some argument that training with the thumb over the finger(Grip A) is bad because it is simply a crutch for your fingers. I would say that you should train in a way that you climb and that if you never train Grip A then you will be unprepared for it outdoors. But climbing without using the thumb at all is a waste and not superior in any way that I can think of.

Grip A delivers maximum strength on a hold. Grip B is for energy savings and increased tension.

If your look at a lot of the really strong climbers like Daniel, and I think the biggest exponent of Grip A and B; Jon Cardwell (Lots of fantastic A B action between 1:10 - 1:40). You see that they do not frequently half-crimp without the thumb. That is a lazy grip.

I think keeping in mind these two grips and using them as exclusively as possible will certainly make you a stronger better climber. It is one of my most important pieces of advice for those who are looking for some.

None of this applies to route climbers.

Red Hornytoad

The long, physical, feature testpiece. I had originally done the Boss encouter with an amazing Floating Iron Cross move, but sadly feet first seems to work. Daniel recieved the FA very shortly before putting up the Game in Boulder Canyon.

FA: Daniel Woods

Other Ascents: Paul Robinson

Best and Worst Hold of the Week 2

Old Comfy Crimp and Lippy Crimp

This week I will review two very basic looking positive crimps, one shaped very well and the other not so well.

First up for our Best Hold of the Week we have this black, well aged, E-Grips Comfy Crimp. The E-Grips line of Comfy Crimps is an old school classic that is still very much in production and is essential to any overhung wall. Throughout E-Grips' history, I, personally, am aware of three generations of texture: Old Exfoliating, Old Glass, and Modern. Between the Glass and Exfoliating textures I am not actually sure which is older, the Exfoliating generation is however much more common in CATS compared to the Glass generation. The Comfy Crimp that is featured here is a member of my favorite generation of the three; the mythical glass generation. Having a hard glassy surface has a number of advantages. Because the surface of the hold is not very porous it does not get shoe rubber or chalk embedded in it, the hold can get chalk stuck onto the surface, but with a proper brushing it is as good as new. I will not restate all of my texture points made in the previous post, but it is also great to be able to pull hard on these holds for hours and days without any wear to your skin. I am not even entirely sure why holds are not this texture now, perhaps they chip easier.

Now onto the shape. Once again I apologize for not having posted a Grip A and Grip B blog post yet. For now just know Grip A is full closed and Grip B is what is pictured to the left. It is very easy to shape a hold which feels fine for a full closed crimp, it takes much more subtlety to shape a good Grip B. But this crimp does a great job. Sometimes Grip B works well simply because there is enough texture for the skin to grip the bottom of the hold well. But it is much cooler and more motivating if there is actually micro-features that you are pinching. Micro-features here are quite crucial as mentioned earlier this hold has very little texture. So the subtle little divots in the hold actually play an important feature in making the hold a pinchable edge. The simplest reason though perhaps that I like this hold is simply the way the actual grab of the hold is shaped. This may be somewhat subjective, but I really love gently rounded incuts. I am known for loving razors and such but really my favorite holds are rounded edges with a very small incut in the back. In the case of this hold the incut is quite large, but it is the same idea. These holds allow you to hit the edge with quite a lot of speed without hurting your fingers, there is no edge to catch on your pad, there is no texture to grate your skin. In addition the sides of the hold are in effect "open" which make the hold much more versatile as a side-pull of gaston, I will discuss how some holds fail to take this into account shortly within this post. In summary this is very positive friendly hold that is great on the steep and can be used anywhere from V4 to V11 or to VGodKnowsWhat if turned aggressively enough.

Now we move onto the worst hold of the week. An overly lippy, close sided, oddly lengthed crimp. First I will address a very obvious issue when you grab it. It is not really 4 fingers but feels odd to use 3. Because this hold was for some reason designed like a watering trough, if you put only 3 fingers in, your fingers sort of slosh around in the hold, there is not something in the back where you can bite into to hold your fingers in place. On the previous hold, if you decide to crimp for 3 fingers for the hell of it, you are fine as you can crimp down into the back of the hold. But this hold is designed completely differently. Like I just said, seriously this crimp is like a watering trough, there is a flat surface on the inside and a big lip surrounding it. You can technically fit 4 fingers in the hold, but it is not comfortable as your fingers start to want to break free of the stupid cramped urethane walls imprisoning them. If the hold was not close sided it can sometimes be ok to scrunch 4 fingers on a small hold as the pinkie may just barely wrap around the side of the hold or something along those lines, but with this design that is not possible. There are even more problems with this close sided design. It makes this hold extra uncomfortable if used as a gaston or side pull. This is because, lets say the hold is turned 55 degrees clock wise and is intended to be a left hand gaston, what ends up happening is that your pointer finger will be smooshed down onto the side lip that this hold has. So you will actually be pulling down onto the side of your finger, the same thing happens as a sidepull except with your pinkie. This is dumb for a few reasons. First this is very uncomfortable on your fingers. Secondly, thank God, there are not too many problems with down pulling slot crimps. This is what that type of pulling is replicating. I am not saying they are not out there, my first V9 revolved around a downpulling vertical slot/seam. But let me tell you they suck, massive blood blister on the side of my left ring finger for the exact reason I was discussing above; you are pulling down onto the side of your finger. Even for use as a foothold this closed design is useless and inferior. When the hold is rotated you either have to turn your foot oddly to toe into the good part of just edge on the stupid lip. I am not saying having bad feet is bad but I rather it be an actual bad foot not this weird standing on the side of a lip business. So we have now established that these holds are quite poor for sidepulls or gastons. But is it good for downpulling if you have either really small or really fat fingers? The answer still, impressively, is no.
Here is a slightly out of focus shot of the hold with my fingers on/in it. The pointer is dropped for a better view. It would be better if I had more photographs but I was having trouble shooting this hold. But one of the problems you should be able to see here. When you are established and pulling on the hold there is excessive contact from the lip of the hold onto random parts of your finger. I say random because where the lip is contacting your finger is not where you want to or can really pull from. This makes pulling on the hold actually quite painful as much of your weight hits low on your finger near your crease. An additional problem with using this hold even in a down pulling position is when you think about hitting the hold at speed. Basically you painfully catch that stupid huge lip on the crease of your finger. This causes not only stupid pain, but also potentially injury related pain as you can actually bruise your tendon/pulley, at least in my experience.

In summary big lips cause comfort problems, potentially will lead to more injuries and suck even harder if it is a huge closed lip. Rounded glass textured incuts are very versatile and can be trained on quite easily for a variety of moves and difficulties.

I will not post a Hold of the Week this coming week, but I will make a Blog post.