On the future directions for more rock climbers and less ninjas warriors in climbing competitions – a direct comment to Udo Neumann’s “Bouldering Competitions Today” [Work in progress]

11 04 2018

Source: https://www.innsbruck2018.com/en/detail/artikel/udo-neumann-bouldering-competitions-today.html , (04/10/2018)

U.N. -“The major rule change for 2018 is that the number of zones (prev. “bonus”) is now more important than the number of attempts for Tops. This rule change had no influence on the podium for either men or women at this event.”

R.F.B. – This will probably benefit more the strongest athletes (who can do more hard moves), than the better or luckier climbers (who can find a successful beta more quickly). I’m not sure how I stand here! But maybe this new concept is closer to what boulder is all about, i.e. doing really hard moves and will be more understandable for the viewers.

U.N. – “The spectators enjoyed an exciting and fair bouldering competition. Fair because of many volumes, where every athlete could find their own best position. Unfair “morpho” situations have largely disappeared. Exciting because of the many different wall angles and the accordingly diverse physical, and more importantly, intellectual challenges.”

R.F.B. – First the author recognizes, indirectly, that competitions can be unfair and second he praises the ‘intellectual challenge’ component. As I see it now, we have two ways to go further in the right direction. One is to have height categories and a second (concomitant or not) is to explicitly have more options, of comparable difficulty (e.g. more holds) that make on-sighting boulders a key component for success. Imagine 3 possible betas, simultaneously set in the same wall, from which climbers have to find one that fits them. This would be even more fair and more pleasant for the viewers, since it is more likely to provide variety in the “same” bloc! I don’t know about you, but my favorite moments in viewing climbing are not when someone is the first to do a jump, but rather when one is able to find a different beta, that no one else saw (i.e. intellectual challenge).

U.N. – Several times, the routesetters managed to create problems that required moves outside some of the athletes’ repertoire, resulting in confusion that could either not be resolved, or only after numerous tries. The requirements in regards to mental and physical quickness have had an impact on the typical body type as well: athletic and strong athletes have largely replaced the more emaciated type. This is a very positive development for Bouldering!

R.F.B. – Regarding the confusion of unseen solutions, specially those which lead climbers to just stare at the boulders without actually trying to climb them, I don’t see how this is positive development. More options, like suggested above, are a better bet to have greater display of intellectual and physical diversity within the time constrains of a climbing competition. The fact that the author appears to value more athletic than climbing bodies… It is just probably a personal preference, but if it leads to purposely routesetted boulders… this can make rock climbers increasingly more apart from bouldering. That is, depending on the route setting dominant style, almost any specific type of body may be the ultimate body for competitions. However, this does not change the fact that more athletic bodies usually struggle more on rock climbing than more emaciated types.

U.N. –  As the distance between contact points increases, risk assessment and complex coordination of movement become more important. All of our relatives (i.e. all monkeys) use combinations of running and jumping to reach the next contact point. Jumps of gibbons are light years ahead of what we are capable of!  From an evolutionary point of view, combinations of running and jumping were always a requirement to be able to climb. I view combinations of running and jumping in bouldering as something natural, as the obviously optimal method to cross large distances between contact points!

R.F.B. – Others things are natural and these do not need to be included in a bouldering competition. Are we claiming territory from our rival specimens, the Parkour athletes? About these individuals, in Wikipedia one can read “Practitioners aim to get from one point to another in a complex environment, without assistive equipment and in the fastest and most efficient way possible”. We should strive for identity, we should like that the best rock climbers want to participate and/or watch climbing competitions! Rather than discarding rock climbers in the greater interest of reaching a population of viewers that is becoming interested in ninja warrior type of competitions. As a rock climber I get interested about rock faces and climbing these rock faces! Not because of an unconscious evolutionary need to go from the ground to the top, but because I like to imagine myself there, in the middle of the rock face. In fact it is not very common that the most efficient way to get to the top of the rock face is by climbing that route! We are not monkeys (any more)! Monkeys don’t crimp! Rock climbing is a specialization of movement in the context of rocks (all of which are three dimensional, although some more than others), higher order reasons such as intellectual stimulation and aesthetics are key here! Let us not try no capture all movement and all climbing, lets just stay rock climbers who also like to display/watch these skills in competitive events!

[Work in progress] [leave any comments and, if I can, I will incorporate them as I go]

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AC Separation Recovery: Dog Bone™ Button Technique (Arthrex)

15 02 2018

Hey guys,

After 5 months without rock climbing I though maybe there is some other unfortunate climber,  out there, with an acromioclavicular (AC) separation, and who needs some information on what to expect from his/her recovery.

Making a long story short, I fell during a road bicycle ride and got an AC separation (Grade 3). See the video below to add some color to the story, if you want.

I am now six month on my recovery, post crash & surgery and here are some key milestones of this journey:

If this is useful for you and you want some extra info on my recovery let me know. I’ll be glad to help!

About the dog bone procedure… if you don’t value shoulder aesthetics and carrying a backpack is not common, it is probably a good technique.

Cheers





Climbing prodigies: 8b apples or 8b oranges

16 12 2017

Climbing grades are a subjective proposition about how hard it is for the common person to succeed, in doing a particular climb. It’s subjective because, no algorithm exists that allows us to grade a climb and because the difficulty itself is dependent on the particular biomechanics of each individual.

If things are done correctly, grading should be first a proposal – by its first successful climber – and, afterwords, a sort of average of all existent reports, regarding its difficulty – from those who have succeeded, in doing so. Of course, this average will probably be better weighted by the climbers experience and honesty, but this is another subject all together.

As an average construed by individuals, with different bodies & biomechanics, it has its problems and limitations! Namely, what is very hard (or even impossible) for a short individual, may be very easy for a tall one. Nothing new here!

Off course, if the only climber that has done the climb is 2 meters tall and the first repeater is 1,55m… one can expect a major disagreement, but, as more climbers repeat it – and the average height & reach of the successful climber becomes closer to the average height & reach of the majority of climbers – and the climb’s grade gets fine-tuned,  such major disagreements tend to fade or become less frequent. Therefore, differences are usually not that great and grading still makes sense.

When someone succeeds in a climb, this is not enough to claim evidence of a superior climbing ability (in general) over those who did not. It is however evidence of a superior biomechanical, or mental, ability to do that specific climb. Therefore, in theory no climb, on its own, would define you in your climbing level, but yet it does! Everyone, has met those guys (and they are, usually, guys) that, before wanting to know your name, are already thinking about asking you the number and letter that defines you (i.e. your hardest climb). And let us face it, due to the process of grading (described above), this number will tend to be a valid (though unreliable) proxy for inter-personal comparisons. But is it so for small children?

Would it be fair to say that a young child is not a good climber because it cannot climb a 6a (graded by and for adults) with very reachy moves ? No one, in its right mind, would suggest that 6a defines the child’s difficulty to successfully perform such climb!

Now, what if this child was able to accomplish a very hard climb, where the crux consists of very small hand and footholds (for grown-ups) and if the child is able to place its feet in much bigger footholds, closer to the hands, is able to use different handholds and/or if, using the same handholds, its fingers are twice as much into the hold?

Why are we so fast to concede that the child’s accomplishment equals that of a grown-up, in terms of biomechanical difficulty? The child did the climb? Yes, no question here! But did it do the number/difficulty? Is it a valid measure of superior climbing abilities? I don’t think so.

The appeal of finding a climbing prodigy is intuitive. Like in any other sport, we all like the idea of someone, being so gifted, that even in a very precocious age it is already able to do what grown-ups cannot, despite years and years of hard work, and how this prodigy may drive the sport to unimaginable new heights, a few years later. But not all sportive achievements can be communicated in a simplified way. Climbing is different!

If a ten-year-old child runs a marathon close to the current world record, as set by an adult, that says a lot! If child does an 8b boulder, I’m sorry, but that says very little! So… why do we keep comparing apples and oranges? Let us focus more on movements, climbs, ethics, stories, etc. and less on numbers and their wannabe heroes.

Cheers





Can route-setters decide competitions?

31 05 2017

Here is a short bio-mechanics type of analysis base on a video by Climbing TV. Decide for yourself:

Tip: As a general principal, the more stretched you are, in an overhanging climb, the less weight (and thus grip) you are able to have on your feet and, therefore, the more stress you will have on your fingers and arms.

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The cited video:

http://www.rockandice.com/video-gallery/alex-megos-vs-adam-ondra-la-sportiva-legends-only-2014

Disclaimer:

I have all the sympathy for the route-setters who try their best to avoid being the protagonists. It’s far from easy, I know! But be honest and try, will you!?

Both Alex and Adam are excellent competitors and rock climbers, and this video should not lead to the conclusion of one being better than the other. Although it could have been intend to do so. 😀

Recommendations:

– Always have, at least, two DIFFERENT route-setters trying the route/boulder before you say it’s done.

– If in doubt, add an extra foot hold or a different variation to the climb – making sure that difficulty does not change considerably. Different solutions to a climb will only make seeing the competition more interesting!

– The route-setter can be an artist. Some are and that’s great! But let that not interfere with finding the best climbers.

– It would be nice that someone would come-up with an illustrated manual, for beginner route-setters, on classic reachy moves to avoid. Example: Crucifixion move with big feet, reachy move to an undercling, etc.

Let me know your thoughts,

Cheers,
Ricardo Belchior





2020 the year when sport climbing will be in the Olympic Games

6 08 2016

Hey there,

I’m thinking about it, but feel free to stop me and add something:

Will I see the climbing events in the Olympics?
– Sure! I already love the Event and now even more so!

Would I like to participate?
– Most certainly!! Social recognition is a plague from which I’m also not free. Even without participating, I’ll be, in the eyes of others, a better sportsman. Just because some will now know it. Who knows, maybe in the future I can celebrate with my coworkers my first 8c and they will publish the accomplishment in the institution journal and family will call to congratulate me… ok, ok, I’ll stop here.

Am I so pleased to the point of not being upset by the eventual massification of my rock climbing spots?
– No, I am not! I’m not indifferent about climbing in silence in the nature or climbing in an “outdoor climbing gym”. If the latter was the norm I’m not sure if I would climb. And this is not just a wild guess. In 1993 I started surfing, it was a pleasure to find someone also surfing in my local beach, nowadays, the overcrowded beaches promote an aggressive competitiveness that I despise and think I lost the possibility of doing one of my favorite sports (as I like it) on a regular basis due to its massification.

Do I think the new money entering the sport will develop the sport that I love?
– No, I don’t. It will develop competitions, infrastructures and raise sponsorship – which I like – but it comes with a collateral damage for climbing in the nature – which I love.

Will climbers be better?
– Most possibly, yes!

Will the IFSC management and personnel benefit?
– I’m pretty sure! I infere this because, if this benefit would not be so straightforward I guess there would have been a call for opinions and a public discussion of the subject.

Do our best climbers deserve the recognition?
– Yes, I’m pretty confident that they are no better and no worst than all other athletes there (except for golf, of course). Ahaha
Will I became more skeptical about top performances?
– Yes! I’m not sure I’ll continue to give the benefit of the doubt to self-reports of ascents and climbing styles and doping.

What about the 2020 initiative from the IFSC: “Hey guys show some support for climbing in the Olympics!”?
– Before the politics, I would have appreciated to know the arguments of why this is important for us climbers? I would have appreciated to ear climbers who support giving their arguments, rather than showing a 2020 in their hands. Who knows, I might be convinced by them. The “let’s say yes approach” followed by a “YES” just feels short from what I know about mountain people.

(Work in progress – Let me know your thoughts if you agree/disagree or have something to add)

For another similar (more eloquent) take on the subject refer to: http://eveningsends.com/olympic-inglorious/

 





Had a flashback when looking forward

25 02 2016

.

Looking forward… probably my 2016 climbing project 😉

Cheers





How safe are you with a sling in a belay station?

9 06 2015

Very important video!

http://www.sloclimbing.com/nylon-and-dyneema-slings/

Thanks ŽIGA JANEŽ and DMM!