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Move of the Moment - The Mantel

Often known as a mantelshelf, or simply a mantel, this move is an essential part of any climbers toolkit. Predominantly found outdoors, especially for gritstone or sandstone topouts, the mantel encompasses a huge range of difficulties and styles.

Today we've got the return of Ed to the demo team. Ed is going to show us a relatively simple version of the mantel, on the excellent Slab.

As we can see in image 1, the first step to the mantel is to pull down on the hold, or surface, we're intending to mantel. The shoulder joint is highlighted here, as during the movement the aim is to place the shoulder directly above the hold/direction of force - this is the first time we're not looking directly at the Centre of Gravity. We can see than Ed is pulling down, and slightly out, on the hold, and pushing his shoulder over his hand.

In image 2, we've swapped sides to see Ed's left arm. As Ed is using his right foot on a foothold, his left arm is going to give him the biggest amount of push on the hold - we're working contra-laterally again here! We can also see that Ed has turned his hand inwards, in order to move his elbow closer to the wall - when you've trying this move, experiment with turning the hand inwards and outwards, as both are a great skill to have, and have different uses in many mantels. Ed will now push down as hard as he can through his arms and leg, to try and get his arms pushing straight down and his shoulder above his arm/hand.

Swapping back to viewing the right side of Ed's body, we can see in image 3 that he has almost straightened his arms. His hips are now level with his hands, and he should still be aiming to move upwards. This is where a positive ape index (arm span longer than your height) is a real advantage, as you will end up with your hips in a higher position relative to your hands - before this point, longer arms are a slight hindrance due to longer levers, so it all evens out!

Ed's arms are nearly straight, and his shoulder is now directly above his hands and in line with his direction of force, as shown in image 4. At this point, Ed's weight should primarily be on the joints and bones of his arms, and not on his legs or any of his muscles. This will then enable him to start lifting his legs up, to place a foot on the same hold. In more complex movements, Ed may choose to release one of his arms without moving his feet.

In image 5, we can see that Ed has managed to lift his leg up to the handhold - some flexibility and mobility is required here (we have Yoga on Thursday evening to help with these types of moves!) Once Ed has his foot on the hold, he will be able to transfer some of his weight to his leg, and off his arms. He'll then be able to reach above his head for the next hold (or simply stand up, if he was topping out a boulder), as seen below in image 6.

Key things to remember when trying a mantel:

  1. Don't just use your arms, try and get as much from your legs in the first part of the movement as possible

  2. Roll your shoulders above your hands and push down, aim to finish with straight arms

  3. Be smooth and continuous with the movement, stop/start methods are incredibly difficult

  4. Aim to finish the movement in a stable position, with shoulders locked out (elbows should be slightly bent to reduce risk of injury)

  5. Don't be afraid to drop off the wall - give yourself a slight push to clear any obstacles

  6. Experiment with turning hands inwards and turning hands outwards - which do you prefer?

Try out your mantel skills around the centre and let us know how you get on! If you've got a move you'd like us to feature, get in touch via email or on our socials.

Want to learn more about this move and others? Why not book on to one of our improver courses:

Book Ellesmere Port Improver Course

Book Shrewsbury Improver Course

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