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Notes on Indoor Climbing

A little photo time lapse of Chris’s on-sight attempt of Ten Digit Dialing

Being from Nebraska, I learned to climb on an indoor rock wall, so I can’t help but be interested in indoor climbing. What follows is assorted notes on indoor climbing…

Jamie Emerson discusses the worth and progression of climbing indoors here. He brings up some good points. I can honestly say I enjoy indoor climbing in and of itself. Think about it, you have the friends, movement, & difficulty of climbing, with the safety, weather, etc. of the indoors. It is not only a tool to get stronger.

Some people use the term “gym ethics” to explain chipping, bolt-on holds, etc. outside. This is a mistake. A climbing gym is no more guilty of breeding bad ethics than a grocery store is guilty of making people fat.

Bad Habits
The gym is a safe place to get stronger, but it is important to maintain some (apparent) risk. I often see climbers grabbing quickdraws instead of taking a safe fall. This WILL translate outdoors to grabbing draws, standing on hangers, etc.I try to build the mental toughness in a safe environment, then send outside.

RedPoint Manager provides a service to track routes, and users progression indoors (think Mountain Project/ for indoors). Movement gym is using the service; one neat feature is all the gym’s routes are online, as shown in the graph below.

The time I dedicate to climbing varies based on the rest of life’s obligations. After up to a month off, here is what I do to get my strength/ endurance/ fitness back quickly:

1. Laps on routes– 2 weeks- 3 sessions a week, 5 sets of climb-til-you-fall laps on a particular rope (hopefully a few different routes on said rope). At least 4 times up the wall per set.

2. Hard Routes + Bouldering– 2 weeks- 3 sessions a week. Leave the gym exhausted, do some pull ups, or light general weight training if the routes & problems didn’t work you enough.

In a month of not climbing a my lose 1 number grade off my max redpoint level. After the month of training noted above, I’ll have 90% back.

Lately, I’ve been climbing at the Denver Bouldering Club with some friends. The gym is great; it feels like a home woody, but with tons of area and great problems. The atmosphere is very supportive and friendly. This is key; terrain & problems are less important than having motivating friends surrounding you.

Mary Ann - Nice article, Eli. This is a great way to frame climbing indoors, especially when we live in climates that don't allow outdoor climbs all year. Again, I continue to better understand the challenges and thrills of climbing through your website. Thanks.September 11, 2009 – 4:09 pm

Eli Powell - Thanks Mom. It's nice to hear you're reading it.September 13, 2009 – 11:00 am

kris - Great insight, Eli. Thanks!

I wanted to add for general and target strength gain (and probably recovery too) in the gym, one might consider doing back-to-back laps on a boulder problem that is close to or at their level before moving on to do the same on other problems. Try to rest little or not at all between goes. I've noticed great strides in strength, and endurance which is something you don't normally expect from bouldering. Caution: be very mindful of injury from the arduous movement.

I noticed a guy in the gym one day cranking the same hard problems over and over again with ease and yearned for that fitness level. Previously, it had been almost de facto that I moved on from a problem after sending. Over a few sessions, your improved control and endurance will begin to shine.

Aside: I did Ten Digit Dialing this weekend at CCC. Stood out as the best route all weekend. Quality edge climbing down low, with a superb bouldery sequence at top. I thought Wet Dream was a harder route overall with its length and sustained nature, even though no single move was harder than TDD. Another standout route this weekend was Aerospace at Eldo. A quality mixed route with some air. It was great seeing you and everyone this weekend, Eli. Can't wait to see you out west this fall!September 15, 2009 – 2:10 pm

Eli Powell - Kris,
Thanks for the advise for bouldering, I'll have to try that. Yeah TDD is fun, I'm suprised you thought Wet Dream was harder, I had NO difficulty with that route, but struggled on TDD. It was great seeing you too, talk to you soon.September 15, 2009 – 3:00 pm

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