Greetings once again, Connor here. I’m back to teach all you faithful FrictionLabs readers a new trick for your arsenal of climbing moves.
For those of you who are just joining us, Connor's World is the newest FrictionLabs series that explains climbing techniques, tips, and best practices. Today’s topic continues the trend of momentum-based moves (check out our last piece on dynoing here). Now we’re taking a closer look at one of the most fun moves out there: the pogo!
Why you want to pogo
You want to pogo because it’s wild and crazy fun.
Let’s be honest: Rarely will you find a situation in which pogoing is necessary to complete a climb—especially outside. Sometimes you’ll stumble across a boulder problem in the gym with a forced pogo, but even those are pretty hard to find. It’s difficult to set a forced pogo, so most route setters avoid trying.
Wait wait wait! I haven’t even answered your main question yet. What the hell is a pogo?
Pogo? Or Moon Kick?!
In climbing lore, the pogo is a technique originally developed and popularized by Ben Moon, the legendary British climber. It is also known as a Moon Kick; the terms “pogo” and “Moon Kick” are therefore used interchangeably. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll be referring to it simply as the pogo throughout this article.
The pogo propels your body upwards using momentum generated from the swinging movement of one of your legs. Sounds simple enough...but when you first try to coordinate the movement on the climbing wall, you might feel as though you’re writing cursive with your opposite hand. Blindfolded.
How to pogo like Carlo Traversi
Let’s pause. I want to direct you somewhere. Please take a moment to watch the video below about the pogo from Louder Than Eleven. Bear in mind: this is a classic. The cheese is strong with this one. Strong, but deeply satisfying. If you can’t handle the smell, skip to 6:30 for footage of indoor pogoing. Skip to 08:25 for amazing footage of a handful of pros trying to pogo through Airstar, a V13 in Rocklands, South Africa.
Now let’s run through the basics of the move. First, here are the optimal conditions you want for practicing:
As opposed to a dyno, where your body flies in a straight line towards the next hold, a pogo moves your body upwards in an arc. As a result, you can’t cover quite as much distance with a pogo, but you’ll feel more in control.
On to the basic steps you’ll want to take to generate momentum for the move:
Explode in the gym
Like the dyno, the pogo should be treated as an explosive move—but certainly to a lesser degree. In general, any given pogo is much less violent than a dyno of similar caliber. A truly masterful pogo is more an act of grace and precision than one of violence and power. As you progress with the move, focus on the nuances and try to be as smooth as possible––this will greatly increase your efficiency and make the pogo feel easier.
Remember, a pogo is a pogo. Nowhere in the “Climbing Rulebook “ does it say you need to huck seven foot pogos in order to do the move. In reality—and this is also a great way to practice—you can use the pogo technique on virtually any move of any climb. Just find the right foot, swing your leg, and use that momentum to move to the next hold.
Dig the Pogo? What would you be psyched to learn next? Let me know in the comments section!
About the Author
Connor Griffith has been climbing for 13 years in areas across the world, from California to Colorado to Switzerland. A V11 boulderer with multiple first ascents around the globe, Connor is also a professional route setter, a student of climbing movement, and a coach.