Figure fours and figure nines are employed to maintain your core tight and engaged when there are no appropriate foothold alternatives. You can anchor your body in a given posture and push off of your leg to stretch higher by looping your leg around your arm in this manner. This enables you to reach long distances statically Figure fours and nines are commonly used by ice climbers on overhung terrain when there are no solid foothold options.
We’ve gone over each technique in greater depth in the following guide before discussing when you might want to apply it.
What is a Figure Four?
When hanging from ice axes, figure four is a method in which you wrap one of your legs overtop of your opposite arm. Wrap your right leg around your left arm or your left leg around your right arm in this manner.
You must be hanging from good handholds on fairly over-hung terrain to accomplish his posture. Pull your legs up to your chest in a tuck posture and stretch one of your legs. Twist your body sideways and wrap the leg overtop of your left arm once this leg is fully stretched.
Rest your leg so that the crook of your knee is wrapped around your elbow, which will assist maintain it in place. You may now remove your right handhold and still hang in a controlled position from this position.
Figure four can be in one of three positions: high, middle, or low. Your body hangs relaxed from the ax, your arm practically straight, and your head and torso are level with your knee in the low figure four position.
Low is the most common, but it’s also the hardest to get out of because you have to lift your full body weight with just one arm.
High and medium figure four stances, on the other hand, are more difficult to maintain yet provide more power when reaching or stretching. Your anchoring arm stays more bent in these postures, and you sit further forwards, relying on your core to keep you upright.
Figure four has some advantages and disadvantages. The following are some of the advantages:
- It allows you to navigate overhung terrain: Figure fours are ideal for extremely steep terrain with minimal footholds, as we already said. Wrapping your leg around your arm generates a foothold out of thin air.
- It allows for static movement: Long reaches can be performed using figure fours without the need to swing dynamically.
- It can hold you in place: Figure fours can be a fantastic alternative to needing to go to campus if you’re putting in gear or simply want to locate a pleasant spot to hang out for a few seconds (climb with no footholds). It’ll keep you firmly affixed to the wall.
- It allows you to free up an arm: If you don’t have any footholds and need to use your hand for something (changing a position, pulling gear, finding your next hold), figure four is much more comfortable than hanging from your axes.
- It drags your axis downwards: You may come across relatively small placements that are readily cut loose when ice or mixed climbing. Pulling downwards is frequently more stable than pulling laterally in certain conditions. You tend to ‘push’ yourself in one way when using a foothold, which can lead to a fall. Figure fours allow you to weigh your axes downwards, which helps to keep them in place.
However, there are also some disadvantages to this position:
- It’s tiring: Hanging in a figure four pose for long periods can be taxing. Your arms, core, shoulders, hip flexors, and glutes will be put to the test. Not to mention the fact that your entire body weight is supported by one hand, putting a tremendous amount of tension on your forearm.
- It can make falls awkward: If your ice axes lose their grip and you fall, you’ll be hanging from the ceiling with one leg wrapped around the other in an awkward position.
The most significant disadvantage of figure four is how taxing it is. Getting into that position and then keeping it for any length of time is exhausting. As a result, you must ensure that you use it at the appropriate moments.
What’s a Figure Nine?
Figure nine is similar to figure four, except instead of wrapping your leg over the arm on which you’ll be resting your weight, you wrap it around the same arm. Figure nines have much of the same benefits and drawbacks as figure four, with a few notable exceptions.
First, his position is less comfortable to sustain for an extended period due to the way his leg moves, thus it’s not ideal for resting or placing stuff.
Because of the inside orientation of the leg, they’re great for lateral reaches when you need to move sideways. In addition, if you’re ever in a situation where only one of your hands is firm, a figure nine instead of a figure four might be essential.
Ice and Mixed Climbing
When you’re on challenging, overhung ice and/or mixed terrain, these tactics are particularly useful.
Traditional ice climbing doesn’t have much room for figure fours because of the steep vertical walls and long, runout pitches. When you’re on overhung terrain, though, these moves come in handy for placing items or performing difficult moves with limited footholds. They also enable you to conduct long reaches without danger your equipment being dislodged.
Figure fours are also great training tools for ice climbing, dry tooling, and bouldering, among other disciplines. They put a lot of strain on your core, shoulders, and arms, so you’ll be in great form for your next difficult project. We recommend that you teach them somewhere with firm handholds and something soft underneath you in case you fall.
Finally, these strategies can be used to specific moves while bouldering. These maneuvers aren’t very common, but they might assist you to maintain a decent body position in specific situations. Figure fours/figure nines can assist you in doing a long reach to a problematic hold statically.