Movement Analysis: Rotating Toe Hook

I’ve been aware of this move for a long time, and recently used it outside in a true roof at the New River Gorge. A week or so later, this move showed up in the gym courtesy of our Head Route Setter, Adam Taylor.  This gave me a perfect opportunity to discuss the movement.

First, I’m not of the opinion that moves need to be ‘forced.’ Generally speaking, I want the method that I discuss (or set) to be the easiest method of getting through. In most grade ranges difficulty is a relatively bizarre concept; some climbers have outstanding physical strength, some are powerfully dynamic, and others have extremely refined movement skill. The best climbers manage to tie all this together, but still tend to have an attribute that is better developed than others. The reason I discuss this is that there are other methods for completing this boulder; some climbers campus through, still others run a tension sequence through a poor undercling. My primary skillset lies in movement, so I focused on letting my skill do the work.

There are obviously other moves not shown in this boulder, and in certain ways it would be easier to create the movement as a stand start. Starting in a vacuum, this movement tends to primarily be found in steep terrain. Starting with a top gaston jug, set a fairly long cross. The gaston should ideally be something you can pull down on, but not out. In this case, Adam chose a Ty Foose classic from e-Grips, a Galactic Mini Jug (bottom, center.) The exact hold (or holds) that follow in the sequence are critical; too positive and climbers will easily campus through, too bad and they won’t be able to unwind. In this case, the isolated sequence through the Expression Big Bleau into the Volx Levitation goes at v7. It would be hard to make this sequence much easier (possibly as low as v5), as the negativity of the holds and steepness of the wall are both necessary components of the movement. Creating the actual rotation in the sequence is developed by putting the worst hold in the sequence after the gaston. This left hand needs to be quite poor, the opposing foot needs to be pitiful, and the right hand you move to needs to be bad enough that you would have to work quite hard to stop any swing. As you can see in the video, Adam chose slot crimps from Volx to leave the climber with a foot they can’t effectively pull or push on.

As a climber, generating the swing into the toe hook is the hardest part. Momentum builds similarly to the classic moon kick or pogo with the right leg swinging back and left followed by an explosion towards the hold. The climber has to keep the hips to the right and stay focused on the lock off with the right arm; if this elbow opens the weight stays in the left hand, pulling the climber away from the toe hook.

  • Poor start, notice the very high left knee and hips under the left hand.

If the hook lands solidly, the climber can match feet, flip into a decent hold, and setup for the unwind. Continuing to move sideways means that you’ll again need to leave the climber with an awful foot and a reasonable toe hook; the next hold still needs to be oriented in a way that you can’t campus through to it. This hold is quite good, but Adam oriented it in such a way that you can’t hold the right side of it without the left toe hook staying. The right foot is only hand/foot matched to keep the toe hook up until you drop the right hand and swing into the hand and toe.

About Chris Shotwell

CFO of LEF Climbing and Mosaic Climbing gyms of Lexington, KY and Loveland, OH respectively. Long time climber, route setter, web developer, and handyman.

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