Dynamic Moves: Dynos and Deadpoints

Improve Your Climbing Movement Skills

Dynos are risky moves. Latch the top hold and don't fall off!
Ian Spencer-Green busts a huge highball dyno at the top of a boulder problem at Unaweep Canyon in western Colorado. Photograph © Stewart M. Green

Dynamic movements have been part of the climber's repertoire of moves since bouldering master John Gill, a former Georgia Tech gymnast, first began using aerial moves in the late 1950s. Climbers at that time were supposed to maintain "three-points" on the rock at all times, a paradigm still promoted in Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. The "three-point suspension" rule, simply that a climber keeps two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand on the rock surface at all times, is still a good rule for climbers…for beginning climbers that are.

Dynos are Vertical Leaps

A dynamic movement, one of the most exciting climbing moves, is simply when a climber, confronted with a blank section of rock with handholds that are too far apart to reach, makes a vertical leap across the empty void to the next distant handhold. Dynos, climber shorthand for dynamic movements, are exhilarating, exacting, difficult, and require practiced skills for a climber to stick the top hold. And if you miss that top hold? You're going to fall.

Dynos are Pure Gymnastic Movements

If you are at an indoor climbing gym or outside at some boulders, watch the best climbers practicing their dynos. They plant their feet on good holds and then lunge upward toward handholds. Their body cuts away from the rock and for a brief movement, they are flying upward. They maintain control of the dyno using the major core muscles of the body and then at the apex of the jump they grab a handhold and latch on with both hands if possible. Their upward movement is fast, smooth, and efficient. Dynos are really pure gymnastic moves. If you watch Olympic gymnasts on the uneven bars you'll see they do the same essential movements, releasing their grip and then grasping at the apex of their move.

Dynos Save Energy and Strength

Dynos, besides allowing a climber to bypass a blank rock section or a technically difficult section, also allows the climber to save lots of energy. When a climber statics a move, that is moves statically from hold to hold, he uses lots of energy and strength to hold onto the rock, particularly if the cliff is overhanging. A climber who fires dynos between good holds, however, tends to use less strength since dynos are often easier than crimping up thin edges.

Two Basic Tips of Dynamic Moves

There are two basic types of dynamic moves:

  • A dyno is a big dramatic throw with the climber literally jumping for a handhold. The climber often detaches completely from the rock as he springs upward.
  • A dead point is a controlled throw to a handhold that the climber may not be able to statically reach. Deadpoints are often done with a single hand to a single hold rather than with both hands.

How to Perform a Dyno

To perform a basic dyno, the climber grabs handholds and then sets his feet as high as possible on the best footholds he can find. He then rocks up and down to build up the momentum necessary to launch upward. At the right moment, the climber explodes off the holds, pushing his feet down hard on the footholds and jumping upward. At the last moment, as he reaches the apex of his upward trajectory, that split second before he begins falling, the climber grasps the target handheld. It's usually easiest to do two-handed dynos since one-handed dynos can leave you slowly twisting off the hold.

Practice Dynos at Your Local Gym

Your indoor climbing gym is the best place to practice dynamic movements. Find a steep wall with big handholds. Lots of gyms set boulder problems with dynos of varying difficulty for dynamic practice. Start with short dynos between big holds. As you improve, then increase the gap between handhelds.

Push With Your Feet and Explode Upward

Set your feet as high as possible before doing, assuming the frog position with your feet splayed out and your knees bent for the maximum push. It's your legs that give your dyno power. As you rock back and forth building up momentum, keep your eyes on the target handhelds and don't look away until you complete the dyno. As you explode upward, push hard with your legs. Push your hips into the rock rather than outward and extend your arms straight up until your hands grab the holds. When you hit the handheld, often a bucket, grasp it and don't let go. Remember that dynos take commitment and moving without hesitation.