Hot Tip Tuesday: When to Give Beta - World Class Academy

Hot Tip Tuesday: When to Give Beta

Ever have someone tell you about a key hold or sequence right before you’re trying to onsight a climb? Ever have someone tell you where to put your hand or foot when you’re trying to figure out a sequence yourself? Ever do those things to someone else?

I think that all of us as climbers have been frustrated by unsolicited beta spray and have succumbed to this faux pax ourselves.

Here are a few tips when you find yourself wanting to give beta:

  1. Ask: This is the place to start. Ask the climber if they want beta or if they want to figure it out themselves. Before your climber gets on the wall, see how they like to be supported – do they want you to ask them questions? Do they want you to point out observations? If you’ve been on the climb, do they want you to “spray them down” before they climb or only give beta once they fall off? It’s important to ask a climber’s preference before giving beta and sullying an onsight or their chance to problem solve and figure out the sequence themself.
  2. Let someone approach you: Your partner probably knows if you’ve climbed the route they’re on or not. Wait for your climber to ask you for beta. Reminding someone you have the key to unlocking a sequence isn’t always helpful. But letting a climber choose when they want advice and letting them approach can be as empowering as unlocking a sequence on their own.
  3. Beta is a suggestion not a rule: Just because a certain sequence worked you doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. Climbers have varied body types, strengths, weaknesses, and styles. And there are multiple ways to unlock sequences and complete climbs. Phrase your beta as a suggestion, not as the only thing that will work. This allows for climbers to still maintain some autonomy and creativity in the problem solving process. Maybe your sequence doesn’t work for them but you spotlight a foothold or a handhold they hadn’t seen; maybe your beta sets them on the path to discovering their own sequence. Beta is helpful, but it could be different for everyone and is most helpful when it’s phrased in an open-ended fashion.
  4. Beta as collaboration: Use sharing beta as a way to share an experience – commiserate, problem solve together, become better climbers together. It shouldn’t be an opportunity to denigrate someone or make yourself feel superior while demeaning someone else. It’s a way to bring people together, not separate. Make sure to phrase beta in a way that brings you and your friends closer. Think about the above suggestions to collaborate and share.
  5. Learn: This one is broad. If you make a mistake and offer unsolicited beta – maybe you’re too stoked, forget your climber’s preference, whatever the case – learn from it. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t hold a grudge if someone corrects you – and hopefully your climber will let it go too. Learn from every successful time you give beta and learn from the times you make a mistake. Furthermore, learn from other people’s beta. As mentioned in number 4, beta is collaboration and is a way to share experiences. Maybe you share your beta and then your friend uses that beta to unlock their own. Learn from that. Maybe they’ve honed your sequence to be even more efficient. Maybe they move in a way that is vastly different from you, and you could practice their sequence to get better at your weaknesses. Learn from others’ beta. Beta sharing – or even the accidental beta spraying – is all a learning experience.

And if all else fails, you can always bring these anti-beta spray bottle stickers to the crag. Perhaps they will ward off unsolicited beta.

And if you want a chuckle, use Semi Rad’s tips on unsolicited beta spray for snow shoveling because saying, “Are you a climber, by the way? I am. I’m at the gym Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays after work. We should climb together sometime. I’m full of good pointers,” is always a way to make new friends. 🙂

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