Setting 101: Deadpoint

Deadpoint:  A controlled dynamic motion in which the hold is grabbed with one hand at the apex of upward motion of the body, while one or both feet and the other hand maintain contact with the rock.          – From Wikipedia, Glossary of Climbing Terms 

I love a good deadpoint.  It is not only one of the easiest moves to set but also, one of the most practical.  There isn’t a boulderfield or crag out there that doesn’t have some classic route with a hard deadpoint.  Best of all, the deadpoint can be modified countless ways to make reuse of the move in a gym setting environment so applicable, most people won’t even notice that you have reused it in its various forms.


Most importantly, the deadpoint can be set, with enough practice, to allow for short and tall climbers to enjoy the same crux.  The funny thing about deadpoints though, shorter climbers are typically better at them as they will always find themselves stretched out, maintaining body tension, after moving dynamically to a hold.  For your reference, check out Alex Puccio in the above video (but also ignore Joel’s duck face at the end – total mood killer).  Puccio is probably the best deadpointer of our generation.

Hop on the Good Foot and Go Up

For simplicity’s sake, a typical deadpoint will be feet follows hands (ie tracking). While there are a few notable deadpoints outdoors where this is not the case, in an indoor environment, you will save yourself a lot of trouble by not adding footholds.  Someone will always attempt and may be successful in using a foot jib to cheat the move so it is best to not put the temptation out there.


As you can see from this incredible drawing I made in Microsoft Paint of the ideal deadpoint, the only intended feet for the deadpoint aspect of the climb will be the starting feet.  These are represented by the ‘jelly beans’ at the bottom of the drawing, while the triangle is the starting hold and the polygon is hold to which the climber will deadpoint.  Note the purple holds, which are critical for luring climbers to the problem.

Also, take another second to note how incredible I am at drawing in Microsoft Paint.

On a more focused note, in order to be a true deadpoint, the climber must maintain contact with at least one foot and hand hold after snagging the deadpoint hold.  This is why you will often find one foot higher than the other and a hand hold (or two hand holds) which will allow you to grasp above one hand.

Same old Song, Same old Dance

As I stated previously, the best thing about setting a deadpoint is that you can make a few small changes in order to make the move more challenging or so different, most people won’t even notice they are climbing the same move.  For example, by changing out the deadpoint hold and the feet to slopers, you force the climber to be more accurate in their application of force and up the demand for maintaining body tension as a foot slip will cause the climber to fall.  Also, some studies (that I just googled) suggest that up to 90% of the world’s population is right handed.  This means that simply changing the leading hand for the deadpoint can increase the difficulty for most climbers.

If you have never route set or just happened to never think about the beauty and simplicity of the deadpoint, then I hope moving forward, you begin to notice them in your climbing sessions.  I’m sure that if you are around to watch other climbers, you’ll find that the deadpoint, like a dyno, will always be accompanied by you holding your breath.

Because we all want to see if they pull it off! And nothing is cooler than to see how assertiveness and power combine to make success.



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