Tag Archives: crack climbing

Of Knees, Knuckles, Knots and Kalymnos

My knees have never looked worse. Even as a kid I never had so many bumps, bruises, abrasions and scabs as during this past year of climbing. Regular run-ins (bang-ons) with rock and ice will do that. Sometimes, knee damage occurs due to poor technique (leading with a knee and crawling over a ledge is not considered to be beautiful, stylish climbing…) and sometimes due to the rock being a tad closer than expected (bang!). Not that knees are always in the way. There are a couple of techniques that depend on clever knee placement. Knee drops are one of those – kneebars are another.

This video shows how the climber pivots her foot on the hold, drops her knee, gets her hip close to the wall and is then able to reach up and through to a hold above using a dropped knee.

Kneebars require the climber to wedge the top of the knee against or behind a bit of rock while the foot on the same leg is jammed against another bit of rock. Tension in the leg then creates a pretty stiff anchor strong enough to support much of one’s body weight. You can then either take a quick rest and shake out one (or both) arms or gain a bit of extra distance with an arm when you need to reach for a hold.

This video shows a bunch of different knee bars on various routes.

My knuckles have also taken a bit of a beating – not just from superficial scrapes (they often make me look like I’ve been fighting in back alleys), but also because they regularly get stuck in tight places.


My knuckles are still stiff, sore, and swollen after this crack climbing practice session at the University of Calgary climbing wall… Jamming your knuckles into a finger crack can make you feel pretty secure in the moment, and rather miserable for days after. 

As for knots, it seems like they are the bane of my existence at the moment. Being dyslexic, it sometimes takes me an inordinate amount of time to master any technique that relies on things moving through space in a particular direction. Over, under, around and through, recently I’ve been attempting to add more knots to my ropey repertoire.


Here we are back at home a couple of weeks ago at our simulated anchor at the playground,  practicing crevasse rescues. Prussiks, Munters, Gardas, clove hitches, figure eights, overhands, and who knows what else were all knots we used during the exercise… Wherever possible, each was tied while wearing gloves – being able to tie a knot without taking your gloves off could mean the difference between frostbite and no frostbite, remaining functional and, well, perishing. 

As for Kalymnos, I really, really, really wish I had photos I had taken at this climbing mecca in Greece. As it is, I’ve never been there. Kalymnos is right at the top of my climbing bucket list: hopefully we’ll get there during next year’s planned sailing trip in the Med. For now, here’s a link to the guidebook:


Kalymnos or Bust! (Meanwhile, my birthday is coming up soon and I don’t yet have a copy of the guidebook… hint hint.

Hey, with any luck we will be on a sailboat next April, just in time for the 2017 A to Z Blogging Challenge! If my knuckles haven’t completely seized up before then, maybe we’ll do a water-logged blog and on this date next year I WILL be posting my own Kalymnos photos…