June 26, 2013

Ape Indecies

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:

Measure 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.

For example, 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 harder.