National Security and Strategy

A Discussion of National Security and Strategy Issues with Taylor Reed

The right way to #rockclimb post #2: Portraying the winning formula

See “The right way to #rockclimb” post #1 for the intro.

Rock climbing can probably be objectively modeled to an extent.  Even now, we have wrist sensors developed by companies like ClimbAX which will probably help individuals understand their climbing movement better.  I haven’t looked at the methodology behind the algorithms, yet, but my understanding is that this will help by isolating how controlled you are in in either executing a move or while already on a hold, which is certainly a part of climbing.  However, without further objective testing, I’m uncertain as to the extent of its utility.  I’d certainly love to get my hands on the method, and data sets, associated with this tool.

I’ll get to my point now: in rock climbing, like in other sports, there are objective ways to help us get better.  However, just like in football or baseball, no one has developed the surefire “formula” for winning.  Mostly because there isn’t one.  You see, in rock climbing as in these other sports, you’re up against an infinite amount of variability, and, especially in competitive sports, you have to take the human factor into accounts (in football, the playing field is set but the other team is not while in rock climbing, your own genetic limitations and the playing field are difficult x factors to take account of).

This leads me to something I’ve discussed before.  I believe that we will get to a point where we can objectively identify important principles in rock climbing (actively flagging and pressing with your non-dominant foot in terms of technique, or using a campus board to measure your progress on a very typical type of climbing move).  We’re partially there already.  However, there will always be that x factor that defies a winning formula.  As a chaotician, or system’s theorist might explain, the world is too big to make complete, objective sense of it.  The best we can do is try to manage the information and, more importantly, set our expectations regarding what data and its analysis can get for us.  For example, if you can do 1-5-10 on a campus board, and Daniel Woods can’t, are you 100% certain you can beat Daniel Woods in any given rock climbing competition?  Or are you just more likely to be able to do a move that’s encapsulated by the bounded system associated with the campus board.

Stay tune for post #3!


During and after my send of Butter Pumper (V10) during the 2013 Hueco Rock Rodeo!

Photo cred: Merrick Ales, from Melissa Strong’s Rodeo write-up here!

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Footwork climbing video designed to organize some thoughts about how to teach footwork in climbing.  Go to and ‘like’ the page for more.