Ah, rock climbing, that amazing yet demanding outdoor activity that requires plenty of practice and different techniques to maneuver. Nevertheless, we love it, and every day we project to get better at it!
Projecting is whereby you work hard on a problem close to or beyond your limit and attempt to climb it as fast as possible.
For a near-limit objective, you might achieve it quickly and put together a redpoint climbing session within a few attempts, after a period of alternating work and rest. On the other hand, if you choose a beyond-limit project, you might go for days or weeks of hard work and not achieve your goal.
Either way, thorough projecting needs strategic planning to maneuver crux moves, link the sequences, and believe in yourself. Today we take a closer look at on-sight, flash and redpoint climbing.
Here we go!
What Is Redpoint Climbing?
Typically, redpointing is utilized in sport climbing. Sport climbing is relatively safe since you simply need to attach to the wall with secure protection, including glued or drilled bolts on the wall.
When climbing, you connect a quickdraw, normally two carabiners, inside the bolt, and then you fasten your rope on the other side. So, what does redpointing mean?
Redpointing is ascending a route from the ground until you finish, minus falling or resting on your rope. All the included additional protection or quickdraws should be installed ahead of time, and it’s okay to attempt this route as many times as possible in all kinds of ways.
Provided the last attempt is finished without resting on the rope, fastening in as you ascend, then it’s considered a redpoint. Therefore, redpointing means climbing the route without relying on anything artificial. The quickdraws, rope, and bolts are only installed to shield you if you fall.
Moreover, finishing a route in this manner is at times known as doing it clean.
On-sight is a neat climb while attempting a route for the first time without being practiced or advised beforehand. This means that you have no prior details about the route yet no fall or hang.
It is the cleanest type of climbing on any given route. You are only given one opportunity to do your thing. Nevertheless, you are offered the chance to study the ascent from down and strategize depending on the rock’s features. Also, there are chalk marks, usually left behind by other climbers.
Then again, it’s against the rules to abseil down the course to analyze all the possible moves you can make. Plus, you’re not supposed to have seen someone else climb it or belayed another climber on the course.
There are still debates on these rules’ strictness for you to declare an ascent a genuine on-sight. For instance, is it okay if you know the route’s grade? Can you be informed of the number of quickdraws beforehand? And is it right to study the track in a guidebook?
So far, it is almost impossible to achieve a genuine on-sight. Truth be told, it trickles down to your climbing integrity to determine the purity of your on-sight. However, this might not be an issue provided that you’re frank about your climbing style.
On the other hand, avoid giving climbers a lot of information that they’re not willing to hear. You could unknowingly be denying them the chance of attempting an on-sight.
Flash climbing is mostly confused for an on-sight, though it is a neat climb while ascending a route for the first time, with prior information and advice. Similar to an on-sight, there are no hangs or falls while ascending from down to top.
However, with a flash, you can look at someone else climb and gather as much information about the route as possible. In addition, other climbers can give you advice about it, and you’re allowed to watch videos about the route if you want to. Lastly, you can physically and mentally prepare yourself before trying to flash a route.
On the other hand, as mentioned above, it is mainly up to you to decide the difference between a flash and on-sight.
Due to the reduced rules when it comes to flashing a route, the objective is rather effortless to achieve compared to an on-sight. Nonetheless, at some point, through your climbing adventures, you will find out how remarkable flashing a route can be.
Pinkpoint and Redpoint
It’s now time to compare the redpoint to a pinkpoint. As discussed above, a redpoint is a neat climb while ascending a route made on the second or more trials. This still means no relying on the given tools and no falls, though it’s okay to train for it as much as you’d like before attempting a redpoint.
It is extremely common among climbers to try flashing or on-sight for a given route, and if they fail, they attempt a redpoint. Again, climbers at times forfeit the flash and on-sight and begin practicing on a route since they are certain that they won’t be able to tackle it on the first try.
You can start by practicing from the bottom and climb up or by roping from top to bottom. Either way, you’ll be able to strategize adequately for redpoint climbing.
When practicing on a given route, you’re attempting to find the easiest and most effective way to reach the top. Also, you`re mastering different moves and boosting your stamina. Projecting is the process of practicing a route, and provided you’ve not achieved a redpoint, you should consider this terrain a project.
Because of a redpoint’s nature, this objective is easier to achieve than the flash and on-sight. Generally, climbers tend to redpoint terrains slightly above their abilities, whereas on-sights and flashes typically happen beneath the climber`s maximum capacity.
Climbers can’t seem to agree on where to position the quickdraws when attempting a redpoint. Most of them, even advanced climbers, will consider a terrain with quickdraws installed beforehand a redpoint.
The concept behind this is that in sport climbing, quickdraws are a safety precaution. However, they tend not to factor in the physicality or technicality of the route in question. In the same way, it is acceptable to fasten the first quickdraw from the bottom using a clip-stick in case there’s the risk of falling off.
Despite this, some climbers say that fastening the quickdraws when ascending is more demanding and thus a cleaner way of attaining the redpoint. Here, climbing a route purely while starting with pre-positioned quickdraws is known as “a pinpoint.”
Then again, what happens if your terrain has preset quickdraws? This takes us back to what we mentioned above about climbing ethics.
Provided you’re truthful about your climbing style, it’s really not a big deal. Redpointing does not exist in traditional climbing. On the other hand, flash and on-sight are used in both trad and sport climbing.
Additional Free-Climbing Terms
Even though redpoint, flash, and on-sight are very popular terms in rock climbing, there are additional terminologies that will come in handy in your climbing adventures, including:
Retro Flash or On-Sight
This phrase typically comes in handy to describe an ascension on a given route for the second time, but the first time was so long ago that you don’t remember what it was like.
This could describe a terrain you ascended previously, and you only remembered it after checking your logs.
A Greenpoint is purely leading a route, but you’re only relying on trad equipment and not utilizing pins or bolts when ascending.
Redpoint climbing is not part of trad climbing, and this is where head point climbing comes in. It is basically redpointing on a traditional terrain. As with redpoint climbing, you’re allowed to practice on the route in question before accomplishing it neatly.
The notion behind this is that you considerably reduce the risk of getting hurt or falling off by projecting and working on your moves beforehand.
Mainly, the difference between redpointing and head pointing is integrity. Even though redpointing is a common way of improving your skills, head pointing is seen as cheating.
On the other hand, new concepts and phrases are coming up as this outdoor activity progresses, which is a good thing.
On-Sight vs. Redpoint: How Is On-Sight More Difficult?
Every climber realizes that a fruitful on-sight is much more difficult than a climb with incredible beta after projecting several times. You never know where the crux is or how long or difficult the terrain is during an on-sight.
On the other hand, when redpointing, you have more than enough time to practice and master all the difficulty, the footholds, and rest points, allowing you to achieve your objective much easier.
Furthermore, most climbers with a decent sense of the terrain usually ascend for the first time with or without any information or for a second or further attempt, with a bit of detail. However, it is much more difficult to guess how demanding an on-sight climb is compared to a redpoint climb, which you already have information about.
The main difference between redpoint and on-sight is that on-sight is much harder than redpoint due to the lack of information when on-sighting.
In the 70s and 80s, some changes in climbing ethics brought about various ideas about the “revised” standards. Previously, how the terrain was shielded and the tactical moves used were critical, but now we focus on difficulty. Ascending a route and not falling off; just the climber against the surface is now what counts.
If practicing, falling, and hanging on the terrain is okay, why do the rules stipulate that quickdraws be positioned on lead? It is possible to argue that using protection is an essential part of the ascend but falling due to weird gear occurs frequently.
With time, various standards were recognized, and climbers would tell the specific ways a terrain was ascended.
Currently, we simply view the most difficult terrains as redpointed other than placing protection on lead. Besides, it’s rather interesting to consider when difficult terrain gets flashed or on-sighted since it requires you to give your all on your first attempt.
Competitive Rock Climbing and Redpointing
Now that we’ve covered the basics of redpointing, from it being a climbing format to a type of accomplishment in sport climbing, it only makes sense that we answer the question; does redpointing involve competition climbing?
Yes, it does. Generally, competition climbing includes several variations such as speed and sport climbing, bouldering, etc. On the other hand, these sports take place indoors since they depend on flexible and exclusive terrain.
Currently, sport climbing and bouldering competitions can have a handful of formats, like redpointing, on-sighting, and flashing. When it comes to redpointing competition, there is a wide range of available terrain for climbers, and they all have various levels of difficulty.
Besides, these competitions have to be properly planned for; you should consider your strength and endurance since they moderate with time. Also, consider your capacity as a climber.
The Hardest Redpoint Ascends in the World
- La Planta de Shiva 5.15b – In Spain, the Villanueva Del Rosario, was ascended by Angela Eiter. This was the world’s first 9b climb by a woman, which was done on 22nd October 2017. Previously, this terrain was ascended by Jakob Schubert and Adam Ondra, who verified the grade.
- The Ali Hulk Sit Extension 9b was ascended in July 2020 by Laura Rogora.
- La Rambla Extension 9a+ – In Spain, Margo Hayes accomplished a 9a+ climb terrain on 26th February 2017. A couple of climbers verified this grade.
- Biographie 9a+ – in Ceuse, France, on 24th September 2017, Margo Hayes accomplished her 2nd ascent of a 9a+ terrain.
- Sweet Neuf 9a+ – Anak Verhoeven in Pierrot Beach, France, was the first woman to complete the 9a+. She finished her first climb in September 2017. In June 2019, Cedric Lachat verified this grade.
- Silence 9C – In Flatanger, Norway, Adam Ondra ascended the world’s first 9C on 3rd September 2017. Then again, this is an unconfirmed grade.
- Bibliographie 9C – Alex Megos climbed the world’s second 9C on 5th August 2020. It is unconfirmed as well.
- Change 9B+ – Adam Ondra completed the first ascent on 4th October 2012, in Flatanger, Norway.
- La Dura Dura 9b+ – on 7th February 2013, Adam Ondra ascended this route in Olivia, Spain and Chris Sharma confirmed this grade.
- Perfecto Mundo 9b+ – in Margalef, Spain on 9th May 2018, Alex Megos made his first ascent. This route was approved by Jakob Schubert, Stefano Ghisolfi, and Chris Sharma.
The most difficult on-sight in the world:
- Estado Critico 9a – Alex Megos completed the first-ever 9a on-sight ascend on 24th March 2013.
- Cabane au Canada 9a – on 9th July 2013, in Rawyl Swiss, Adam Ondra made a 9a on-sight ascend.
- II Domani 9a – on 3rd May 2014, in Baltzola, Spain, Adam Ondra completed a 9a ascend.
- Just do it 8c+ – this was Adam Ondra’s first 8C+ on-sight ascend. Also, this was the first 8c+ USA ascend.
Redpoint Climbing FAQs
What is a redpoint flash attempt in climbing?
Normally, this is referred to as a flash by most climbers, and it happens when a climber redpoints and ascends for the first time with knowledge and beta about the terrain beforehand.
What do redpoint and dead point mean?
A dead-point and red-point in climbing are words utilized mostly in rock climbing.
A dead point is an ascending move where the climber releases themselves ascendent and grasps a handle at the peak of the jump.
On the other hand, a redpoint involves a climber successfully completing a terrain without falling off.
What is a climbing redpoint?
This happens when a climber accomplishes a rock ascend without relying on the gear or falling off.
Are there people who have died at redpoint climbing?
Yes. While a few climbers have passed away due to redpoint climbing injuries in the past, these injuries are far less common nowadays.
What to do the day before a redpoint attempt?
It would help if you did several things the day before you attempt redpoint climbing, including stretching, rest, hydrating, and preparing yourself mentally to increase the chances of victory.
Who invented the redpoint?
Redpoint was invented by a German climber known as Kurt Albert.
What is a redpoint crux?
This is a portion of the terrain where there’s the risk of falling when redpointing due to endurance instead of the complexity of the moves.
What does it mean to flash a climb?
This simply means to lead ascensions in terrain without falling on your first trial with a bit of knowledge about the route beforehand.
Final Thoughts on Redpoint Climbing
Well, that’s it, we’ve covered most of the common climbing forms in rock climbing, clearly showing you the difference between an on-sight, redpoint, and flash. Hopefully, this write-up has been handy in helping you understand rock climbing better.
So, if you feel strong and capable, you should try out an on-sight or flash in your gym. On the other hand, if you need a bit more practice, you should attempt redpoint climbing.
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