Stemming

Stemming is a valuable counterforce technique that lets you support yourself between two spots on the rock that might be of little or no use alone. It often provides a method of climbing steep rock where no hold is apparent, simply by pressing in opposing directions with the feet or with a hand and a foot.

The classic use of stemming (also called bridging) is in climbing a rock chimney. It also comes into play in climbing dihedrals, where two walls meet in approximately a right-angled inside corner. One foot presses against one wall of the chimney or dihedral, while the other fool or an opposing hand pushes against the other wall (fig. 9-13a).

Stemming may also open an avenue of ascent on a steep face, where you can press one foot against a slight protrusion, while the other foot or a hand gives opposing pressure against another wrinkle in the rock (fig. 9-13b). When stemming between widely spaced holds on a steep face, be careful that your body doesn't rotate away from the

Fig. 9—13. Stemming: a, across a chimney; b, on a steep face.

CORRECT

Two methods of avoiding the barn door effect: c, the climber moves the right foot to the hold where the left was to keep her weight more centered under the secure left handhold; d, the climber flags the left foot behind the right. Both techniques allow the climber to release the right hand to reach up to a new hold.

Fig. 9-14. The barn door effect: a, the climber is balanced over two footholds with the left hand on a hold up and to the side. When the right hand is removed from the hold, the climber can no longer hold herself into the rock, creating the "barn door'' effect, b, with the climber swinging away from the rock.

INCORRECT

Fig. 9-14. The barn door effect: a, the climber is balanced over two footholds with the left hand on a hold up and to the side. When the right hand is removed from the hold, the climber can no longer hold herself into the rock, creating the "barn door'' effect, b, with the climber swinging away from the rock.

rock the second you release a hand to reach for a new hold (fig. 9-14b). Several methods can be used to avoid the barn-door effect. Sometimes a strong stem against the foot below the hand being moved is effective. Other times centering your weight over the foot below the stationary hand is more helpful (fig. 9-14c). One method is to try rearranging the body position using a counterbalance technique such as flagging one leg behind the other (fig. 9-14d).

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