Climbing Techniques: How to Mantel

The insecure nature of manteling puts this move at the top of the “intimidating climbing techniques” list; just saying the word induces anxiety and sweaty palms in many climbers. But fear not, young crushers, with a little bit of mental guidance, some work on balance, and a willingness to get weird, you will find yourself dancing over the lip like a ballerina instead of beach-whaling ashore like a tired humpback. Mastering the misunderstood mantel will help you top out everything from must-do multi-pitches to desert towers to almost every boulder problem out there, so get ready to pull, press, and push!

The Move : Just Commit

Before attempting the move, you need to prepare mentally. The moment between feeling relatively secure right below the lip and the celebration of standing on top can feel like a blank break in the space-time continuum. And there’s no room for an attitude that’s too cautious. Once you start to generate momentum, you’re launching off into unstable terrain. Where any hesitation can lead to a worst-case-scenario flop on your back. As you approach the move, take a deep breath. Focus on your plan of attack, set your feet, and GO. For mantel, confidence goes a long way.


High Feet

Find the highest possible feet when starting a mantel. The higher the feet, the higher your weight is over the lip, which is the ultimate goal. Even smearing a toe on something unlikely can help put your body into a more favorable position for the moment of truth up high. Your feet lead your hips, and your hips are what you want to have in the best position possible: up high in a comfortable zone of control.

For steeper terrain, try to get a heel up on top first. Hanging from the lip, find your balance. And swing that heel up high, taking the time to place it well by finding an edge or a bump to pull against. Even a small divot will work. Move up using the heel hook for added pulling power. And once you start to get your body high enough, you’ll need to roll up onto your toe. Consider what position your foot will be in when you begin to rock over. Is it close enough? Too far out to one side?


Heel hook

Once you place your heel, you will not be able to make any adjustments. So it needs to be as secure as possible throughout the entire move. Use the trailing leg as a sort of rudder and clamp. You can flagging to one side to guide the movement upward and squeezing it into the rock for balance. Sometimes in mantel, the swinging of the free leg can generate momentum to carry you up and over the lip. Another method for flatter (not rounded) ledges is to think about it like exiting the deep end of the pool. Use your feet to spring your hips up over the lip, leading with your chest to get your weight over your hands. Straighten the arms, gently bring a toe up to the lip, and stand up slowly.

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