The climbing habit allows vines to reach well-lit canopy areas but most of them have to survive in the shade for at least part of their life cycle. Valladares et al. show that the abundance of the seven most important woody climbers occurring in a Chilean temperate evergreen rainforest is related to their capacity to intercept light efficiently. The most abundant climbers in this ecosystem match well with a shade tolerance syndrome, and hence they cope with the dim understory light rather than searching for high light conditions. This contrasts to the pioneer-like nature of climbers observed in tropical studies.