Frame-by-frame analysis of Rob Key on a climbing wall

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During the 2018 Rose Bowl Test, Rob Key scaled a climbing wall. We sent the video to a climbing expert to see what he thought. The climbing expert didn’t answer us, so here’s some screengrabs of Rob Key on a climbing wall accompanied by zero insight.

For some reason the segment began with Rob Key attempting to ‘floss’ with a bunch of kids. As far as we’re aware, this is not a recognised method of warming up for rock climbing.

All images via Sky Sports

For what it’s worth, Rob is an inexpert flosser. We would consider this to be ‘a good thing’.

Now here’s Rob on the wall.

Like we say, we’re no expert, but we can see at least one issue here and possibly two.

The first issue is that he’s wearing his normal shoes. Modern climbing shoes are about 90 per cent magic. If you can actually managed to cram your feet inside them, you’ll find that the soles have spectacular Spider-man qualities.

Climbing in normal shoes is like riding the Tour de France on a shopping bike with a basket on the front. You can sort of do it, but you’re putting yourself at a huge and needless disadvantage with your choice of equipment.

The second issue is with that left arm. As we understand it, the best way to climb generally involves smaller hand movements, although we can’t exactly remember the reasoning and may have this exactly wrong.

This was Rob’s next move.

We think you’re generally supposed to be closer to the rock. Rob seems to be making things harder for himself. Maybe he felt he needed more of a challenge.

Rob was told he was only a stone away from being “too heavy for the rope”. Again, we’re no expert on climbing, but we’re pretty sure the ropes are made strong enough to hold the weight of a great many men, so this is either damning or a cruel lie.

Despite all of these hindrances, Rob successfully made it to the top, where he was extremely dignified.

Whenever we’ve been climbing, there’s been a sandwich at the top. There’s nothing at the top here, so that seems a bit disappointing. Rob would definitely have preferred to find a sandwich.

The only thing left to do was descend, which apparently you do by just throwing yourself off the wall.

Cats are much better at climbing up things than down things, so it’s reasonably accurate to say that Rob has cat-like climbing abilities.

First published in September 2018.


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  1. Scaling this wall and abseiling off without his shirt becoming untucked is quite an achievement in itself, and one which makes me willing to overlook the odd technical flaw in his game.

  2. I’m wearing a North Face jacket, so I’ll tell you what’s going on. Firstly, Rob has made the mistake of confusing a tube of plastic for a mountain. This is, sadly, an all-too-common mistake these days. The result of such confusion is that on reaching the top, there is no opportunity to sit, take in the view, and enjoy the achievement of finding a way up something that has been there throughout all human history. If climbing is like proving the Riemann Hypothesis, what Rob has done is fill in a Junior Sudoku.

    His second, and much more serious, mistake was to descend arse first without checking for massive spikes below. It is this, I fear, that will ultimately cause him the greatest pain.

    Now, I’m off to ‘ave-a-rest and watch that episode of Dad’s Army where Mr Mainwaring’s discarded neckwear formed a crucial part of the plot (“Over there, where my scarf fell, Pike”). I’ll stay indoors, as I don’t want to get snowed on. I could ask my friend Benny Viss if he wants to join me. And maybe his wife Kate too.

  3. If you had published some words about Rob Key but not included pictures of him, it would have been sufficient.

    If you had published a picture of Rob Key, but not one of him attempting to dance The Floss, it would have been sufficient.

    If you had published a picture of Rob Key attempting to dance The Floss but not published pictures of him also climbing a peculiar blob of plastic, it would have been sufficient.

    If you had published pictures of Rob Key climbing a peculiar blob of plastic, but none of him descending said blob, it would have been sufficient.

    All this is truly magnificent…

    …and still you try to deny that the title “King Cricket” was actually intended for you, oh King.

  4. We got the expert’s view in the end. He said:

    “The simple answer is that if you’re too fat for the rope you won’t be able to get off the floor anyway so it’s a moot point.

    “Ropes are rated to take at least 8 (I think) factor 2 falls with a 80kg (I think) mass before failure. A factor 2 fall is one where you fall twice as far as you have rope to absorb the fall (ropes stretch to absorb falls).

    “Factor 2 falls aren’t normally possible as the ground gets in the way. As the ropes are designed for this, having some fat person top roping on them as in the article is small beer.”

    1. That moot point is one of the best moot points I’ve ever come across, as far as moot points go, which is not very far, not even off the ground in this case, obviously.

      But is it 8 factor 2 falls or not? And is it an 80kg mass or not? (And is that your expert thinking inside the brackets or is it you thinking?) Because these sound like pretty important details which, once confirmed, we’ll immediately forget. Some expert, if it was him. (I think.)

  5. Should I know what to ‘floss’ is?

    I’m assuming my ignorance is further evidence of being an old.

    1. Ahem. If I may. If one were to play the popular video game Fortnite and if one were to win by slaughtering one’s fellow players, one might celebrate by “flossing”. Consider it a victory jig if you will whilst gloating over one’s vanquished opponents. So I’ve heard.

    2. Far be it from me to disagree with my learned friends, but The Floss is quite simply a dance.

      Yes, it does appear in the video game Fortnite and yes, it is a crze amongst young people at the moment.

      But if you were old and waning in powers, you might well also know about it, daneel. That particular type of “looks easy but isn’t” dancing, in which one part of the body is required to move in the opposite direction to another, is actually considered to be ideal mind and body exercise for the genuinely elderly. So I’ve heard.

      I might try to get Daisy on the case tomorrow. But I have a dreadful feeling that she’ll simply find those Floss moves a doddle and tease me incessantly for being utterly hopeless at it.

  6. Cook’s batting, not out 37 at lunch. Apparently this is “a good start towards a century”, which I suppose is true, but is equally true of all not out scores.

    Anyway, if we’re pitching our predictions so wildly into the future, here’s one. Cook needs 15,010 more runs to average 100 in tests. That’s assuming he’s not out. If he got out, he’d need 100 more than that, because that’s how averages work.

    If he managed it, he’d set a new record for the highest test average. And for most runs in a career, and indeed, most runs in a match. What else? Fastest scoring rate would probably have to be in there (420 overs left in the match, that’s 35.7 runs per over, which isn’t impossible). Although actually, now I think about it, he can only realistically face 5 balls an over, so there’s going to have to be some overthrows in there.

    But all this really ought to be well within his grasp, even if only half the comments about him in the last week are true.

    1. He’s going to make it. 15,000 not out in this innings. The only downside is that at his current rate of scoring this will take a hundred billion million years.

    1. I don’t like all this fuss cos I’m still hoping he can be tempted to unretire, and the bigger the fuss they make about him the harder to unretire it gets…

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