Rock Climbing Footholds

Proper use of footholds along with handholds and body-position techniques can make all the difference in a climb. When combined with strength, good balance, a sense of timing, and a relaxed attitude, even the smallest holds can work.

Here we cover some of the most common Rock Climbing Foot Holds.

Edging: A foothold position wherein the foot is precisely held on the hold, generally on the inside area of the big toe. The angle of the foot to the wall should he about 45 degrees. Raise the heel for more precision, lower the heel to rest. This is the most common face-climbing foothold. You can also use the outside edge of the foot, around the little toe area, when backstepping.

Front pointing: A foot position wherein the foot is perpendicular to the climbing surface, and the very front of the shoe is edging. The heel is generally held high for maximum purchase. This foothold works well in pockets.

Smearing: A foot position wherein maximum sole area is applied to the rock. Generally, the toe is pointed up and the foot is flexed, heel low, allowing maximum contact of the sole of the shoe to grip the rock. Used for sloping holds, friction slabs, and liebacking, and anytime there is no feature to edge on.

Backstepping: A technique wherein the climber is sideways to the rock, with the hips perpendicular to the climbing surface. The climber backsteps and reaches with the arm on the rock side of the body. This works best on vertical and overhanging terrain.

Crunch: A position wherein the feet are brought up close to the hands. This is a strenuous position to hold because so much muscle flexing is required.

Rest position: A position wherein the climber hangs straight off an arm, using the skeletal system, not muscles, from which to hang the body.

Flagging: A technique to counterweight with a Ieg to maintain balance. Flag in by crossing one leg behind the other leg, or flag out by counterweighting with a leg to the side.

Highstep: A move wherein the climber steps very high to a foothold, rocks onto it with the body, then presses up with leg muscles to stand tip. This is effective but tough on the knees.