The Smear. One of the most important things to learn when you first start climbing is how to smear. Whether you love to climb indoors or outdoors, smearing is an essential tool for any climber. When footholds are sloped, marginal or just non-existent, the smear really comes into its own.
Today Jack is showing us how to smear using a volume on one of our excellent slabs.
The key to smearing is the relationship between the knee, heel and toe. Good ankle flexibility works wonders here, and softer, flatter climbing shoes are a huge help. As we can see in image 1, Jack has great ankle flexibility and nice soft climbing shoes, enabling him to create an acute angle between his knee, ankle and toe. His ankle is directing the force downwards, close to perpendicular to the volume surface. The yellow lines indicate the angle of Jack's shoe and the direction of force applied.
In image 2, we can see Jack maintains this acute angle as he stands into the volume, keeping his knee bent in order to fully weight his heel, and keeping his hips over the volume surface. As his heel lifts slightly, the direction of force begins to move away from completely perpendicular to the volume surface - as long as this doesn't become too exaggerated it shouldn't create any issues.
As Jack reaches a full standing position in image 3, he continues to maintain the acute angle between his knee, ankle and toe. We can also see he doesn’t lean fully into the wall, ensuring that his hips remain roughly above his toes.
In images 4 and 5 we can see a close-up of Jack’s feet on the volume. As demonstrated by the yellow arrow, his bodyweight is being pushed into the volume at a roughly perpendicular angle. This is, again, maintained by the bent knee and ankle.
In image 6 we can see Jack has transferred his bodyweight to the other foot. This enables him to step up and place his foot higher on the climb (he’ll now execute a rock over, described last week). As we can see in the image, Jack’s next foot placement is also in a smear position, despite the hold having a defined edge. By maintaining this smear position, Jack is able to get extra friction and stability from this small, but positive, foothold.
Remember, the key is bent knees, bent ankles and as much contact as possible between your shoes and the surface you're smearing on.