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Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Disadvantage of Being Tall: Height and Rock Climbing Performance Part 1 (Men)















In a following post, we will focus on female climbers. We will also take a look at the role of weight, and whether there remains a negative effect of height if we take into account that taller climber are usually also heavier.

PS: I just noticed that a similar analyses for US climbers with the same results have been published by Chris Ring in Rock and Ice.

4 comments:

  1. As I'm sure you're aware, the "maximum performance by height plot" is really misleading. Just by virtue of fewer people being taller, the good-climber tail of the distribution won't be as well sampled by tall people (same with short people). For any two independent variables that are centrally peaked, you'll get that shape with a peak in the middle like that. The quantile regression solves that problem, so you're conclusions are solid, but it's important to call the above issue out! The Rock and Ice article rests its case on this statistical mistake!

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    1. Hi Astro, thanks for your remark. You are of course completely right: we should expect that the performance for smaller and taller climbers is on average below the performance of the “average” climbers. What I just tried to say with the graph is the following: Compared to the presence of extreme good smaller climbers, it catches the eye that there are no corresponding tall climbers performing at the same level. Perhaps I should have made that clearer but as you rightly pointed out, the regression approach should be less prone to a possible statistical fallacy due to differences in the sample sizes.

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  2. Iminterested why you chose 165cm and 195cm? At least in terms of percentile of the general population, they are very different groups. Literally only 1% of males are 195cm or taller, whereas at 165cm you're looking a 5-8% or so ... I'd be interested of the strength of the correlation comparing 165cm to 186/187cm which is a better 'percentile' comparison.

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    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. I do not think that your figures apply to the younger cohorts anymore who are on average taller than the general population (and much higher represented among the climbing community). There are of of course additionally large differences in average height between countries. For the 8a.nu sample (rock climbers as well as boulderer), 5% are below 165cm and 5% are above 190cm, 10% are below 169cm and 10% are above 187cm. See also the first graph here in the post.

      You mean comparing the performances of rock climbers being 165cm tall with those of 186/187cm of height?

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Research article looking at climber ability and route difficulties by Dean Scarff

Dean Scarff made me kindly aware about his extremely interesting arXiv article Estimation of Climbing Route Difficulty usingWhole-History Ra...