Bouldering techniques - topping out

Bouldering techniques - topping out

This article look at the techniques, flexibility and strength a climber requires to top out on a boulder problem.

Mastering the technique of topping out will have three positive effects on your climbing:

  • Enables you to complete problems!
  • Provides an easy passage to safety.
  • Improves confidence to push your limits.
Topping out usually requires the skill of mantling which involves two components, strength and flexibility.
Topping out tips
  • Look at the finish of the climb, does it look rounded or hold less?
  • Lightly clean the area by using an extendable brush, or walk around and clean from the top with a large soft brush.
  • Use the holds carefully (or not at all) if they look unstable.
  • Do not climb if it's damp as this will only make an ascent more difficult, if not impossible, and will certainly increase the chances of damaging the rock. (Porous rock, in particular, is much weaker when wet or damp).
  • If the finish is out of view, walk around to the top and have a look. Indicate any vital holds with a small chalk mark (remove them by light brushing with a toothbrush or large soft brush after you have completed or finished with the problem).  
Mantling

Now that the rock is prepared it is time to ensure that you have prepared the body. Topping out usually requires the skill of mantling which involves two components: strength and flexibility.

Focus stretching particularly on:
  • Hip flexors (these control the radial movement of the hip)
  • Hamstrings (tight hamstrings will limit your ability to place your foot high)
  • Quadriceps (these large leg muscles provide the bulk of your strength)
  • Shoulders (in difficult mantles this joint is under great strain so it is important that it is comfortable in extreme positions)
  • Wrists (like the shoulders, this joint is often under great strain so it needs to be flexible enough to cope with these positions)
A mantle involves getting your feet high so that you can sustain a position in which you straighten both of your arms. This then allows you to move one of you hands up, or push with your legs.

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