How to Smear

How to Smear
In rock climbing, smearing is the act of creating friction between your shoe and the rock by placing the sole of your shoe directly against a flat rock face, rather than on a defined hold. Smearing requires a great deal of balance and flexibility. It is often necessary on slab routes with fewer holds, and it is helpful for younger or shorter climbers who may have difficulty reaching holds. Though difficult, smearing is a helpful technique that will allow you to place more weight on your feet and take weight off your arms.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Rock climbing shoes
  • Rock climbing shoes
 
Step 1
Place your foot as high as possible to smear. If your foot is too low, it may slide down the wall.
Step 2
Bring your center of gravity away from the way by pulling your hips away to create friction. This will allow for greater surface contact between the wall and the bottom of your foot. This may feel awkward and require some practice, as most rock climbing techniques require keeping your hips closer to the wall.
Step 3
Smear with your foot turned slightly inward or outward depending on the angle of the wall and your positioning. Experiment with each move to see which position creates the most friction.
Step 4
Look for any cracks or divots in the wall or rock that can create extra friction, and place your foot accordingly.
Step 5
Shift your body weight by slowly moving your hips and shoulders. Moving too quickly could cause your foot to slip.
Step 6
Use small steps to avoid any aggressive movements that could cause your feet to slip.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Practice smearing on a lower-graded route on a slab wall. Take turns smearing your feet on alternating moves. As you improve, try smearing all the way up a route. The type of rock climbing shoe you wear may also affect your ability to smear. Shoes with a more technical, turned-down toe will allow less surface contact with the wall.
 
Practice smearing on a lower-graded route on a slab wall. Take turns smearing your feet on alternating moves. As you improve, try smearing all the way up a route.
 
The type of rock climbing shoe you wear may also affect your ability to smear. Shoes with a more technical, turned-down toe will allow less surface contact with the wall.

Article Written By Karen Eisenbraun

Karen Eisenbraun has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Knox College and has been writing professionally since 2004. She is the editor of a weight-loss surgery support website and is currently studying to become a certified holistic nutrition consultant.

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