Fin­ger­tip “Squish”

WHY FIN­GER PULP, NOT TEN­DON STRENGTH, MAKES FOR BET­TER CRIMP­ING

Climbing - - THE CLIMB THE BETA - BY CALEB SAN­DER­SON

WHEN WE THINK of our abil­ity to bear down on small holds, we usu­ally think of ten­don strength. But the study “Mea­sur­ing Lift­ing Forces in Rock Climb­ing: Ef­fect of Hold Size and Fin­ger­tip Struc­ture” ( Roger Bourne, et al.; Jour­nal of Ap­plied Biome­chan­ics, 2011) sug­gests that high- level climbers’ abil­ity to crimp mi­cro- edges may, sur­pris­ingly, be mostly about the amount of soft tis­sue (“fin­ger pulp”) in their fin­ger­tips and the fric­tion cre­ated when their tips de­form (“squish”) to ac­com­mo­date the shape of the edge.

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