Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Speed Climbing’s Grey Eminence

June 24th, 2009 · No Comments


Granted, in the clip above, the bloke on the right-hand tree gets smoked. But cut him some slack—when this video was shot, Guy German was 53 years old, with nothing else to prove in the world of timbersports. He is, after all, widely recognized as the greatest speed climber in history. And he’s still competing today, having just lost in the quarterfinals at the Aflac Outdoor Games.

The trick to his longevity, German says, isn’t necessarily prime physical fitness, but technological innovation—especially gear changes that reduce weight and enhance grip

[Spikes] were his first and most widely accepted innovation, but certainly not his last. German went to work making the climbing load lighter, exchanging boots for wrestling shoes, steel for aluminum, metal for cloth, and the list goes on.

“Every pound you carry up is more energy you expend and less you can spring,” he said. “I think I’ve cut out around five pounds through the years.”

Want to become the next Guy German? We heartily recommend that, if you’re a novice, you begin with spur climbing and work your way toward the tricky stuff.

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