Hearing Both (6'3" and 5'1") Sides of the Story

Photo of Walter 6'3" and Natalie 5'1" by @aprilclimbs

"It's way harder if you're (tall/short)!" "Nah this is v6 is soft!" "No way, it's a solid v6!" "He/she made that move look SO easy!"

Let's hear some real life answers from our two interviewees Walter K. & Natalie TK!

  • How tall are you and what is your ape index (if you happen to know what it is)? (P.s. Ape Index is the length of your arm span compared to your height!)

Walter: I’m 6’3” (192cm) with a plus 4” (200cm) ape index.

Natalie: I'm 5'1" (155cm) with a negative 3" (147cm) ape index!

  • What would you grade the climb as?

Walter: That boulder problem for me was probably a v3. I didn’t top out because the last move was pretty high and kind of a gamble. It would have been easy to do but I wasn’t in the mood to take the risk. I think it was listed as a v6. I don’t climb v6.

Natalie: I'd say the climb was a SOLID v5-v6. None of the moves felt "easy". I got both hands on the finish and then down climbed. I usually climb v6-v7.

  • What is one benefit you have of being tall/small? Can you list some strengths that you have?

Walter: One benefit of being tall is that if there are holds that make a climb more difficult then I can sometimes skip them. For bouldering, I look at the goal as getting stronger, not just getting to the top. Getting to the top of the wall may be easy, but working the moves may not be. Strengths: I can reach anything. I can skip anything. With the reach and my flexibility I can high-step up the wall in huge strides.

Natalie: One benefit of being small is that I'm able to get reaaaal scrunched up if I have to. I've learned to better my techniques of: footwork, heel hooks, toe hooks, and using intermediate holds!

Strengths: Flexibility, finger strength / crimping, using intermediate holds to get to the next move.

  • What are some cons of being tall/small? Can you list some weaknesses that you have?

Walter: There are a lot of cons of being tall. The start hold is usually too low. So my body position is far off the wall and I can’t hang properly. The same thing happens when holds are too close together. There’s also the strength to weight ratio. At 6’3” my healthy weight is about 210 pounds. That’s a lot of weight on my fingers and fingertips. It makes overhangs really difficult and demands strength training for this purpose.

Weaknesses: Overhangs. Start holds. Holds close together. Strength to weight ratio. Sometimes topping out is more difficult because I feel like I’m 25 feet in the air. My head might be.

Natalie: Well.. I'd say the biggest setback is that the climbs are set for normal sized people, a simple move to another hold can be 2-3x more difficult because i'm lacking in height / length. I will not be able to grow any taller, so I end up having to find some other way (when possible) to move forward in the climb. The biggest (ha ha...) advice I get from people in the gym is "well.. can you just jump for it?" I don't want to ALWAYS be jumping for every move, every climb - this is supposed to be climbing, lol!

Weaknesses: Moving when reach is maxed out, roof climbing, dynos, coordination moves.

Even though there are many differences between the two climbers, they were both able to finish the climb (shown in the background of the photo). It just comes to show how grades ARE subjective, something easy for someone may be many folds harder for another person!

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