I give notoriously bad beta. Just ask anyone who has ever climbed with me. There is nothing I like more than mushing myself into a corner, dropping my knee at an odd angle, flipping my elbow inside out, and pressing my palm flat against the wall. Essentially, turning myself into a human pretzel.
Somehow it just feels right.
But that’s the beauty of climbing. Like the taquitos on those rollers by the cash registers at 7Eleven (or snowflakes, or whatever), no two climbers are exactly the same. Over time, every climber develops their own unique style that feels right for their body.
Some of us scuttle like crabs. Some crawl like sloths. When we get tired, we turn into t-rexes. You have your long reachers and your toe tappers. Your high steppers and your Elvis leggers. There are those determined few who keep things streamlined and efficient, while the rest of us are content to do the twist.
And yes, some of us are pretzels or churros or, regrettably, noodles, but no matter how you get yourself up the wall, there’s one thing that brings us all together. Climbers climb.
It’s not exactly rocket science.
It is, however, our job – as industry professionals, product engineers, and members of the climbing community -- to empower that desire and to improve the climbing experience for as many different people with as many different styles as possible.
“Every climber adapts on every route they climb,” said artist and climber Jon Sedor in the video What is Adaptive Climbing?. “It’s very rare, especially for example between different genders, that I see a man and a woman do the same thing. Not because one is any less strong, it’s just different body types.”
Knowing that different bodies move and climb differently, the question becomes: how can we make climbing more inclusive and more accessible for the most people?
Improving Accessibility for Adaptive Climbers
One way to increase inclusivity is to develop climbing equipment that is useful for climbers who have been previously overlooked and underserved.
Until recently, auto belays were impractical for many adaptive climbers. Seated climbers, for example, could not train on auto belay because instantly lowering after a top out or a fall was too unsteady. With the recent release of the TRUBLUE iQ+, we aim to change that narrative.
The TRUBLUE iQ+ is the first auto belay that allows climbers to stay on the wall after falling, rather than immediately lowering. We call this the “catch-and-hold" feature. In climbing terms, what the TRUBLUE iQ+ is doing is giving you the option to take.
It works like this: when a climber comes off the wall, the TRUBLUE iQ+ catches them, preserving their progress. The device then proceeds to hold them there for up to 30 seconds. For seated climbers, catch-and-hold provides a chance to rest before continuing to climb or to restabilize before lowering.
“I think the TRUBLUE iQ+ is actually an amazing tool for paraclimbing because different athletes with different abilities climb at different speeds.” -- Maureen “Mo” Beck, 2x gold medalist at the Paraclimbing World Championships and National Geographic’s 2019 Adventurer of the Year.
Beyond the advantages for seated climbers, Beck called out the catch-and-hold feature of the TRUBLUE iQ+ as being particularly useful for visually impaired climbers.
"I think it's going to be huge, especially for our VI blind climbers because they're always stopping to hunt for holds. Right now, if they let go, they have to start the entire route over and they're at a loss. But with the TRUBLUE iQ+, they can stop, feel for the holds, and then continue on their way, which is amazing! And to be able to do that, without having a belayer, gives our disabled athletes even more independence to be just a climber." -- Maureen “Mo” Beck