July 19, 2020

How do climbers climb?

John Hutchinson, 67

Rock climbing  is a strange activity that requires a subtle combination of power, balance, flexibility and mental focus. It has infinite variations and  has kept me in its thrall for 50 years. Climbers need to manoeuvre their bodies into the right shape to use the holds they find in the rock. It is not just grab and pull. They have to find the holds and work out how to use them. Sometimes it is a delicate side pull, sometimes it is a pinch or sometimes it is the lightest caresses as they move up in balance on the merest smear of a foothold. They cannot change the rock, so the body has to mould to it. Good climbers move with the appearance of effortless grace, totally in harmony with the rock,discovering its hidden secrets, and creating a pattern of movement up the rock.  A climber makes a route up the rock in a similar way to a sculptor releasing the statue from the wood or stone that encases it .

Bodies, 2020Pencil on paperA4