Pumped and Flash Pump

Climbing Words for Overworked Muscles

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When are You Pumped?

A climber gets pumped when his arms become weak and burning with lactic acid caused by overworked muscles, usually on strenuous overhanging climbing or working on a difficult project route.

Get Pumped and Fall Off

When a climber works up a steep wall doing a series of sustained body, leg, and hand movements and relying on his hands, forearms, and upper arms to propel upward, then he risks getting pumped. When a climber is pumped, his hands uncurl and can’t hold onto even big handholds or jugs and he falls off. The climber’s forearms also feel tight, swollen, and totally worked.

Avoid the Pump by Finding Rests

Climbers can avoid the dreaded pump by first thoroughly warming up on easier routes before jumping on a hard one and by finding and using rests or resting places as he climbs a hard route. A rest is usually a large bucket hold where the climber can hang from one arm and rest the other arm and hand by shaking it out and letting it hang. After resting for a minute or so, the climber switches hands and rests the other arms. This is done until the climber feels “de-pumped” and is ready to swarm up the crux. Another type of rest is a kneebar which allows a climber to wedge his knee and lower leg on the rock and let go with either one arm or both. A good rest on a hard route makes all the difference between success and failure.

The Flash Pump

Another type of pump is called the flash pump. This happens when a climber immediately starts climbing on harder routes without first thoroughly warming up by jogging, stretching, and climbing easy routes. The climber that doesn’t properly warm up and gets a flash pump is often finished for the day before she’s done much climbing.