5 Things You Should Know About Climbing with a Lightweight

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Clearly I’m in the lightweight crew. And no I don’t normally “climb” by dragging myself up the rope like this.

Many climbers seem to be constantly trying to lose those last five or 10 pounds to reach optimal “sending weight.” However, there remain others, like me, who can eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s every other night and still not gain a pound. Here are some things you should know about climbing with those of us in the skinny crew:

1. You’ll be guaranteed a soft catch, even when you’re toproping. If you weigh 50+ pounds more than your partner, you’ll never have to worry about being slammed into the wall. Instead, make sure your lightweight belayer remains close to the wall and keeps minimal slack in the system for the first three bolts to avoid having you (softly) ground out as they collide with the first bolt. You may experience this on a smaller level when on toprope, as your partner may be dragged forward toward the wall when you fall. This is not them dropping you. Do not yell at them like they dropped you, especially if you see them hanging five feet up. Also please remember to give a little hop when they fall to ensure they get an equally soft catch.

RELATED: Belaying (as) a Small Female

2. Just because someone’s small doesn’t mean they don’t eat. Actually, they’ll probably eat just as much, if not more, than you and likely will take snack breaks more often. Without a “fuel pack” beer belly to get them through 10 pitches of anything harder than 5.5, your skinny partner will be stuffing a pb+j or a couple Clif bars in the group pack. Don’t worry; the extra weight will be gone by the top.

3. That end of the day beer will make them tipsy. Or more than tipsy. Do not expect them to drive home. Do expect them to laugh at more of your bad jokes than normal. Do not give them a second beer.

4. The rope weighs a significant percentage of their body weight. If you find your scrawny partner struggling to carry their rope, draws, and three liters of water up steep inclines, try to be patient. They’re carrying a larger percentage of their body weight than you are and they probably hate doing legs day just as much as you do too, so they might need to keep it at a “slow and steady” pace.

5. They’re likely to get cold faster than you. Skinny climbers just aren’t built to stay warm in the snowy mountains, on windy belays, or while standing around watching you fall off your favorite boulder problem for the 34th time in a row. This is why outdoor gear companies make ultra warm puffies, hats, gloves, down snow pants, etc. This gear is built to keep skinny kids warm at 43 degrees Fahrenheit and everyone else comfy on Everest. So don’t be surprised if your 5’6″, 117-pound partner breaks out an 800-fill down jacket to belay when you’re good in a t-shirt. It’ll keep them happy while you hangdog.

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