Tips to improve climbing footwork

Efficient footwork is one of the key skills to be developed in order to get better at climbing.   Fitness and strength is required to be a talented climber. But in the course of trying to use upper body strength, one often forgets to focus on another part of the body that is even more important while climbing – feet.  A good understanding of footwork, balance, and control is the secret to successful climbing.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to improve your climbing footwork:

Wear Shoes that Fit Well

Make sure you have the right pair of shoes that are especially meant for climbing. A good pair of climbing shoes will be snug fitting and sensitive enough to give you a feel of the surface with which your feet are in contact while rock climbing.  At the same time, your shoes should not be so tight as to hurt you while climbing.  Overly tight shoes will be counterproductive as you won’t want to put weight on them due to pain.  Especially for beginners, it’s a good idea to pick a pair of climbing shoes with more rigid support under their big toe.

Carefully place your feet and push, not pull, your way up the climb.

No matter how much upper body strength you have, your arms will always be substantially weaker than your legs.  Instead of pulling your way up a climb with your arms, push your way up with your legs.  This will take careful placement of your feet so that you’re comfortable putting weight on them. Your arms will simply be used to compensate for whatever your legs can’t accomplish.  Experts advise climbing techniques that involves pushing more than pulling as the latter can exhaust your energy sooner.

Take Small Steps

Take smaller steps while rock climbing as they are less energy-consuming. Large steps can be intimidating (especially for novice climbers) and can often lead to loss of confidence and concentration while climbing.  Large steps also mean you won’t be able to shift as much weight on to your legs, and you’ll have to compensate more with your weaker arms.  When a climber takes higher steps, he will not only exhaust his legs but also his arms and the upper body. This will result in tiring all the parts of the body. Small steps will take up less energy and will help maintain confidence.

Learn how to switch feet on footholds

To have a better climbing experience, learn to switch between feet on footholds simultaneously with handwork. This will help you in improving your flexibility while climbing.

Follow these tips along with recommended safety and precautionary measures to enjoy the adrenaline rush while climbing new routes. Remember to practice your footwork techniques to improve them.

Climbing at the Red River Gorge – by Jodye Boam

Recently a few Earth Treks Timonium and Earth Treks Golden staff got together and decided to head out for a climbing trip to the Red River Gorge.

Here is Jodye Boam’s blog about their trip! Enjoy the blog and amazing photos!

Climbing in Red River Gorge

by Jodye Boam, Earth Treks Timonium
Retail Assistant/Shift Supervisor

Red River Gorge 2014 Earth Treks Staff 1

Rainy is the first word I can think of to sum up our climbing trip to the Red River Gorge in October. But contrary to popular belief, rain does not ruin a climbing trip (condensation, on the other hand, is en entirely different beast). At least not with a crew as psyched as ours. Included in the line up were Earth Treks all-stars Matt and Charlotte Bosley, Mike Hauck, and myself, as well as Justin Smith, Sam Voso, and Adam Pettee.

Red River Gorge 2014 Earth Treks Staff 2

We all stayed in a cozy cabin that had a wonderful surprise in store for us. One particular night, while we were relaxing in the hot tub (!) it started to rain sideways. Booms of thunder were punctuated by screams of terror as we all sprinted into the safety of the cabin. To say we were surprised that it was just as wet inside as it was outside would be an understatement. Rain was pouring in through our (apparently unsealed) windows, soaking everything on the left side of the house. Don’t worry, though: when we called the cabin rental agency, they confirmed that it was, in fact, going to rain again the following day, and that they’d send up plenty of towels for us to clean up with.

Red River Gorge 2014 Earth Treks Staff 3

Weather aside, we had 10 full days ahead of us, and no set agenda. We took plenty of time to climb the classics, as well as explore routes we’d always swept past, and found some real gems along the way. Thank goodness for four wheel drive; most of our time was spent in the depths of PMRP, where, it seems, the climbing potential expands every time we return.


Red River Gorge 2014 Earth Treks Staff 4

Purgatory, home of the classics Lucifer 5.14c, as well as Paradise Lost 5.13a was one of the first destinations on our list. We found great warm-ups just around the corner. In perfectly pumpy Red River Gorge style, the holds were great and the angle was steep, which provided fun and interesting climbing for everyone. After a sufficient warm-up, Matt put in great work on Dracula ’04, being hindered not by the pump, but by that pesky condensation we talked about earlier. Meanwhile, Justin hopped on Paradise Lost, a project he had committed to on our last trip to the Red. After a few days of work, a break in the weather, and a send train led by none other and Anna Stohr, Justin was able to send!

Red River Gorge 2014 Earth Treks Staff 5

Running with the theme of hard sends, Mike found his project, Triple-Sec (aka 50 Bucks) 5.12d, at The Sanctuary in the always beautiful Muir Valley. Mike’s send of this seemingly blank face, sprinkled with a few crimps and pockets, leading to a crux, then to a no-hands-rest, followed by another crux, was truly inspiring.


Red River Gorge 2014 Earth Treks Staff 6

Another fine gem in PMRP was Random Precision, one of the few vertical climbs in the entire Red River Gorge. This was one of my absolute favorite climbs of the trip, and one I’d surely come back to again.


Red River Gorge 2014 Earth Treks Staff 7

Drive-By is another crag we found ourselves at time and again. With climbs like Breakfast Burrito, Fire and Brimstone, Naked Lunch, and Whip Stocking, lined up perfectly in a row, it was hard to stay away. After we had all tried nearly every classic moderate Drive-By had to offer, we made our way down the line and eventually came to the super-classic 5.14c Kaleidoscope. You know the saying: last go, best go. Matt punctuated the trip perfectly with a send on the very last day!