Corners and Chimneys

Corners and Chimneys

Bridgeable features often provide ways to rest the pulling muscles in our arms and make upward progress.

Climbing using only the flat wall for hands and any hold for feet. A good exercise to work on bridging
Climbing a corner trying to only push down on holds. Thos will help you realise that you don’t have to pull all the time. When climbing this might allow your forearms to recover.


Pushing off a hold and walking your feet up the opposite wall and then getting back into a bridge/rest position. This might help if there is a long wy to the next hand hold.

Another trick for ascending corners and grooves is ‘back and footing’, see Chimney Rest.

Climb a corner with as many hands off rest as possible, by bridging and back and footing.

Climb aagin but your hands can only grip as if you were holding a cup of tea.

Corner tips

  • Use your hand to pivot around your feet and feet to pivot around hands.
  • Palming off the wall uses different muscles to pulling down on holds.
  • Rest whenever you can, both bridging and ‘back and footing’.
  • Sometimes corners and grooves are like pantomimes, the holds are “behind you!”


Climbing chimneys ef ciently is often dif cult, as much of the time actually moving up requires an energy sapping ‘thrutching’ that tires the whole body. The only respite you get is when resting in between the struggling up. The best psychological approach for many chimneys is one of rugged determina- tion and that given a good ght you will succeed.

Chimneys cover a vast range of width of cracks; essentially anywhere you can t a body, it is possible to chimney. Generally the way we move is by locking or wedging one part of our body which then allows us to move another part. By continuously repeating this wedge-move-wedge-move it is possible to edge our way upwards.

Chinmey exercise

Find a chimney, doorway or corner and place your back against one wall and feet against the other and try and sit down in a wedged position.

Push off one foot and your back and move the other foot up and then wedge yourself of the higher foot and your back.

Using your hands against the wall you back is on, thrutch your back upwards and attain another sitting position. By repeating this movement it is possible to edge your way upwards.

Back and fitting up a chimney
Back and fitting up a chimney
The tight confines of a narrow off-width chimney
The tight confines of a narrow off-width chimney

Chimney tips

  • Although it is possible to climb a totally smooth chimney, placing your feet on footholds or edges makes the whole process a lot easier.
  • You will have a fight on your hands.
  • You can often rest by simply sitting down, it is the thrutching upwards that is exhausting.
  • Decide which way round you are going to face before you start. Try the first move facing one way and then reverse down and try it the other, decide which is easier before committing yourself. It will often be impossible to turn around half-way up.
  • Thin chimneys are even harder to climb, unforgiving on the body, totally claustrophobic and requiring a lot of energy to move up. Improvisation is the answer, but the principle is the same, wedge-shuffle-shuffle-wedge.
  • It will often be impossible to see your feet, or arms for that matter; so take note of prominent foot holds as they pass you face and struggle relentlessly until you can feel your feet on them (perhaps your only chance of a rest).