Climbers spend a lot of time obsessing over small things. What's the hardest way to climb up this cliff when we can just walk up the back? Which are better, shoes with a pointed toe or shoes with a blunt toe? This carabiner is one gram lighter than all others, is it worth five dollars more?
Another small thing we think about is reach. The
length of one's arm is something that normal folk rarely consider. To
climbers, for whom reach can be of the utmost importance, it is quite
serious. They have developed a method of expressing arm length relative
to height. It is called The Ape Index. Here's how to calculate yours:
your height, no cheating. Measure your arm span, from middle fingertip
to middle fingertip. Subtract height from arm span and you have a
positive or negative number that is your Ape Index.
my arm span is 73.25 inches. My height is 70.5 inches. 73.25 minus 70.5
is +2.75, my Ape Index. The positive or negative sign is usually
included for clarity. Also of note is the fact that in Canada my Ape
Index would be much higher because of the metric system. Large positive
numbers are desired.
Ape Index would only connote climbing
advantage if all other things were equal, which is never the case. Let's
look at Josh. He's 0.75 of an inch taller than me, but with a paltry
Ape Index of +0.25. My reach is nearly two inches greater than Josh's.
However, Josh's footwork is superior to mine and he can therefore climb