*Editor’s Note: This is a co-conspiracy by Chris Rolling and Adam Scheer
Recently a friend asked if there were a couple things that could help him break into 5.12. At first I had to fight back cynicism. Climbing is hard. The journey is arduous. There are no golden tickets aside from imported diet pills, steroids and habanero seeds in your underwear.
But 5.12 is often the grade to which many climbers aspire and most never reach. This is despite the fact that many, if not most, climbers have the physiological potential to send 5.12. So what is the best way to bridge the gap between promise and plateau?
Tools of training
What we detail below is not a “how-to” instruction pamphlet for climbing 5.12. Such one-size-fits-all remedies are about as useful as the directions on a box of pop-tarts. (You mean to tell me that you’re NOT supposed to eat the plastic wrapper!?) Instead, this article is a guide on staking your claim to climbing at the next level.
From our observations, we all face two common obstacles on our respective journeys. First, you won’t climb at your potential if you don’t pay attention to weaknesses and systematically eliminate them. Second, limited training time can make this process arduous, especially if it reduces the fun factor in your climbing sessions.
Yet each of us is used to these types of struggles. We devote countless hours to homework to achieve a degree and a better career. We bike or run to keep in shape. We practice an instrument to become a musician. We are constantly working in the trenches of our lives so that when we step out the sky will be all the bluer. Almost everything worth achieving requires sacrifice and effort. Climbing is no different. Just like playing guitar is more fun after tedium to stop flubbing that pesky F-chord, fighting through weaknesses in climbing will make the sport more rewarding.
Therefore, in our opinion, the right question is not, “How can I climb a 5.12?” It’s “How can I realize my potential?” If you approach climbing this way, it might take longer to send a 5.12, but in the end you will send more of them and have more fun. Though 5.12 is often seen as a benchmark grade, depending on natural potential, the same process will help the 5.9 climber and the 5.13 climber.
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