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I've always mocked friends who top-out using their belly (stomach) when bouldering. It's not very graceful but I was reading this article on UKClimbing and it shows someone topping out on a V6 using his stomach. I've always considered this bad form, but maybe I'm wrong.

Is topping out on your belly actually bad form? What is considered best form, and why is it better than bellying out?

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If you are at all concerned about the height of a top-out while bouldering, or feel you are not in the best position to stay on the rock, belly-flopping the top-out will give you a LOT of friction to keep you on the rock. Safety is important. –  theJollySin Jan 17 at 15:23
    
My question was more would you consider this a successful accent? When I've done this in the past I've decided it wasn't right and tried again. –  Liam Jan 17 at 15:46
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Form and style are only important if you are alive afterward to brag about it. If someone is going to question your ascent because you belly-flopped, find different climbing partners. –  LBell Jan 17 at 15:47
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@theJollySin: belly-flopping the top-out will give you a LOT of friction to keep you on the rock. I think your physical intuition behind this is probably wrong. Static friction on dry surfaces is normally independent of surface area. In fact, the coefficient of friction between your shirt and the rock is probably less than the the corresponding coefficients for shoe rubber or hands. –  Ben Crowell Jan 17 at 18:12
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If you are a bad-ass: youtube.com/watch?v=KI4-ZHYy9IQ :-) (I most assuredly am not.) –  Mr.Wizard Jan 17 at 18:46

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There is a technique to topping out a flat featureless boulder gracefully. Climbing.com have a good article on it

Briefly this is:


Step one. When you reach the lip of a boulder, quickly evaluate which foot to swing up onto the lip (from now on this foot will be known as the pivot foot). Let gravity work for you by swinging your pivot foot onto the low side, not the high side, of the boulder. If the lip is horizontal, pick your stronger — or favored — side to swing up. Do a half pull-up, and simultaneously raise your pivot foot over the lip, keeping your knee slightly bent. Try to find a good heel hook, edge, or foot scum to use as a fulcrum — extra purchase is useful for floating a mantel. If possible, use your other foot to edge on the face of the boulder.

Step two. With your arm opposite your pivot foot, reach out laterally, approximately a forearm’s length, and grab a hold on — or slightly above — the lip. Palm the rock with your fingers facing slightly towards your body. Flag with your non-pivot foot to keep from barndooring.

Step three. Contract your pivot leg so that your hips are even with — or higher than — the lip. Hold yourself in position with friction from your pivot foot. Bend your elbows, and use your ab muscles to bring yourself aggressively close to the rock. If you’re having a hard time making your foot stick, try draping your pivot-foot leg over the stone, contacting the rock with the underside of your calf muscle, to create additional friction.

Step four. Pop your pivot-foot hand and elbow 90 degrees so that your fingers face your torso. Shift your other hand 45 degrees outwards (away from your body), and switch your fingers from clasping the rock to palming it. This positions your shoulders over your wrists, and improves your overall leverage.

Step five. Rock up, pulling with the thigh and calf muscles of your pivot leg, keeping tension with your abs. Turn your pivot knee in slightly, and pull your torso over the lip. Flagging your non-pivot foot helps as a counter balance, as does smearing (backstepping) on top of the lip with your non-pivot foot. If done properly, your body will be almost horizontal to the ground.

Step six. Dig the inside edge of your pivot foot into whatever feature it’s on. If there are no features, firmly push of your shoe into the rock to maintain friction. Now lever up onto this foot, twisting your torso inward. Drive hard with your elbows as you push your shoulders over the lip with your palms.

Step seven. Extend your elbows and stand up. You’ll likely have to make minor adjustments in the position of your hands and body to keep your balance as you go from perching to standing.

UK climbing have just published an article

on it's web site going into details of this technique.

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