Chimney Technique

A chimney is any crack big enough to climb inside, ranging in size from those that will barely admit the body (squeeze chimneys) to those the climber's body can barely span.

The basic principle is to span the chimney somehow with the body, using counterforce to keep from falling. Depending on the width of the crack, you will either face one side of the chimney, or face directly into or out of the chimney. The best body position and technique to use depends on the situation and on the size of the climber. Which direction you face may depend on what holds are available outide the chimney and on how you plan to climb out of it.

Limb Climbing Techniques

In squeeze chimneys, wedge your body in whatever way works best and squirm upward. Look for handholds on the outside edge or inside the chimney. Arm bars and arm locks may be use-M )f's he)pfai, sometimes, to press the left foot and )tnee, for example, against opposite sides of the chimney. You might try stacking your feet in a T configuration, with one foot placed parallel to one side of the rock, while the other is placed perpendicular to it, jammed between the first foot and the opposite wall. Squeeze chimneys can be very strenuous, and the best approach here may be to look for an alternative way to climb that section.

In a crack that's somewhat wider than a squeeze chimney, you begin to have some room to maneuver (fig. 9-30a). You can then press your back and feet against one side of the chimney as your knees and hands push against the other side. You can move upward by squirming your way. Or try a sequence of wedging the upper body while raising the feet and knees, then wedging them and raising the upper body.

A wide chimney calls for stemming technique, with the climber facing directly into or out of the chimney (fig. 9-30b). Counterforce is between the right hand and foot on one side and the left hand and foot on the other. Press down as well as against the sides, especially if there are holds on the sides of the chimney. Ascend by alternately moving arms and legs, or by moving each leg, then each arm.

In a standard moderate-width chimney, perhaps 3 feet wide, you'll again face one wall of the chimney, your back to the other. For the upper body, your hands may push against one wall in counter-force to your back pressed against the other. Or the

Facing Your Chimney
Fig. 9-30. Chimney techniques: a, in a narrow chimney; b, in a wide chimney.
Chimney Technique

Fig. 9-31. Chimney techniques in a moderate-width chimney counterforce may be between hands on opposing walls. For the lower body, your feet may push against one wall in counterforce to your buttocks against the other. Or the counterforce may be between your two feet.

To climb this moderate-width chimney, use the following sequence (fig. 9-31): Start with your back toward one wall. Press one foot against each wall and one hand against each wall. Move upward by straightening your legs and then re-establishing hand positions. Immediately bring your back leg across to the same side as the forward leg. Then swing the forward leg across to the back position. You're now again in position to move upward by straightening your legs.

Beware of getting too far inside a chimney. Although psychologically it may feel more secure, you can get lodged deep inside and find it difficult to move back out. You have a better chance of finding useful hand- and footholds if you stay near the outside of the chimney.

Climbing deep inside the chimney also can make it harder to exit at the top. The transition from the top of the chimney to other types of climbing is often challenging and may require extra thought and creativity.

Chimney technique may be useful in places that don't look like classic chimneys. It can be used to climb dihedrals (fig. 9-32), or short wide sections of otherwise narrower cracks.

Continue reading here: Negotiating Overhangs And Roofs

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