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Be Persistent & Consistent

Okay, it sounds obvious, keep trying til you send. But there’s more to this tactic.

Last spring I started working Sonic Youth in Clear Creek. Every week or two I’d drudge up there, struggle for a couple hours, then nurse my wounds. It was the least excited I’ve ever been about a climb. This route wasn’t my style, and was too hard for me at the time.

Pick the right project to stay stoked about working it. It helps me to know the history of a climb, and like the line/ type of climbing. As far as difficulty: This probably means 1 number grade harder than your on-sight level for roped climbing, and 1-2 V grades harder than your best send.

Chris Rollings on Sonic Youth (5.13a) (photo by Lucas Marshall). Chris took at least three trips (read: 1644 Miles, 48 Hrs driving, $150 in gas) to send this route. That’s persistence.

The gym has always been my sanctuary from all of life’s complications, so it’s no problem to go regularly. However, it can be hard to regularly push myself. If this is a problem, try:

Switching it up- Boulder instead of roping up or vice versa

Climb with a partner- There’s no better way to push yourself, other than friendly competition

Make a schedule and write it down- Train with weights a couple days, boulder a couple days, do laps, etc.

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Cold Weather

Climbers use many tactics to send harder. The nice thing about tactics is you don’t have to be any better or stronger, just smarter.

I love climbing in the Summer, but it’s hard. Rubber and skin friction decrease with higher temps. I’ve been climbing a lot in colder weather, here are some tips to make it tolerable:

Bring: Chemical hand warmers, gloves, a down jacket, thermos w/ warm drink, hat.
(side note: There are also chemical cold packs you could use to cool you skin in the summer)

Stay: Close to the car, in the sun

Climb: Boulders (your hands are on cold rock for shorter periods), in the afternoon when temps have risen.

Went to a new (to me) area today. Red Rocks (of Boulder) is a group of fins on the outskirts of Boulder. We found a little unclimbed (?) boulder. The left and right sides are easy, with a fun center line (maybe V2-3).

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What Happens When…

What happens when a route climber gets on a boulder problem? It gets ugly. Exhibit One (below): Me trying a new problem at the Sentinel boulders in Yosemite. The excruciatingly long video shows me struggling, and freaking from being 6 feet off the ground.

A little while after the video was shot, I sent and got the 3rd ascent.

So this was my first trip to Yosemite. I went to the Big Stone hoping for some long routes, but ironically only climbed on boulders.

On the second day of the trip we found the only dry route in the Valley, Generator Crack. We had all the gear for the off-width, but could barely manage a top-rope.
After the struggle, I tried to lead a fairly new route next to the crack.
I fell shortly after this photo was taken. The first piece popped, and the second piece blew out the rock, so I grounded out… Then we set up a top rope.

Thanks to Kris for the pics and video, and Andrew for the catches and company.

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Guiding basics from me [not a guide]

If your climbing partner is crying when they reach the belay, you’re doing something wrong. I should know, this has happened to me many times, and every time was my fault.

I am not certified or employed to guide, but I do. When I say guiding I mean: Leading all the pitches for a team, and being the sole possessor of the skills needed to progress or retreat safely.

Single pitch sport cragging is fairly safe and straight forward, so moving on… I usually guide on easy multipitch trad routes, and this is where additional skills become important. Here are some considerations for the next time you guide…

Know Your Partner

I have a tendency to over estimate my partner’s climbing ability and/ or climbing knowledge. Assess this on the ground, or else…

Katie and I went for a climb on Wind Tower. She’d “done this a few times before” and I thought it was all good. We started on the easiest route around to warm up. I soloed to the first belay and started pulling up rope. I pulled up a knot that would have choked a hippopotamus. I should have flaked the rope better, and better explained the systems we were using.

Out at The Dome, I got on an offwidth with a friend. When she finally reached the belay, her eye were almost swollen shut from crying. Five.Seven is not easy for everyone, especially if there is an overhang. Honestly evaluate your partner before leaving the ground. Keep in mind the mental factor of being outside. “You climb 5.11 in the gym,” doesn’t mean a thing when they’re staring at a pendulum or looking 100’ down.

Can your partner rappel? If there is ever a question, I suggest setting up the rappel, feeding their device and talking it over. Then put yourself on rappel below their device, untangle the ropes on the way down, and hold the rope as they descend.

Know The Route

Bring the right rack, including a nut tool for the follower. Equally important, bring “just in case” gear- like a beanie, knife, ascenders/ prussiks, water, food, and headlamp (you may not need all this all the time). Know where the crux is, and place additional gear in case they need to pull on it.

Protect pendulums- especially if they are toward the end of a route. A small traverse near the anchor can create a violent swing. Build good anchors, they will be weighted. Can you rappel with a single rope if your partner can’t finish? Can you hear each other at the end of the pitch? I use a simple method for voice free communication- I pull up all the rope, put ‘em on belay, then keep tension.

Know Yourself

I once led a route I eyeballed at 5.7, and it felt pretty easy. When my partner couldn’t finish, I freaked. “She must be hurt- It was so easy she can’t be struggling from difficulty.” I cut rope to set a good anchor, and rapped down to a pumped and embarrassed girlfriend. The route turned out to be Blind Faith (5.10a).

Can you safely lead the climb in question? Are you comfortable being caught by your belayer?

Chelsea - I’ve always wondered what that climb was. Now I may have my vengance.January 10, 2009 – 3:50 pm

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Workout Without Equipment (3)

Here’s the last set of exercises…

Exercise: One Leg Squat
Muscles: Legs
Benefits: Overall fitness, balance

Stand next to a chair, raise one leg in front of you, arms out for balance. Squat until you hit the chair. Pop up as fast as possible- try to only touch the chair, not weight it. The foot on the ground should be right next to the chair, and keep you back straight.
Climbing exercise: One Leg Squat
Climbing exercise: One leg squatExercise: Leg Swing
Muscles: n/a
Benefits: Balance

Stand on one leg. Keep legs straight. Swing the other leg straight in front of you and then behind you without touching the ground at the low point. Try for ten swings without stopping for balance. Switch legs, repeat.Balance exercise for climbingExercise: Tricep pushes
Muscles: Triceps
Benefits: Boulder topouts, lock off strength

Arrange a chair next to a wall. Address the chair as for sitting. Put you hands on the chair with straight arms, and straight legs in front on the ground. Drop down with arms, raise up to original position. Repeat.
tricep pushes for climbingtricep pushes for climbingOne last thanks to Dave for all the exercises. Dave is one of the premier climbing trainers on the Front Range. Some of his clients are professionals with 5.14/ V14 climbs. He also training the “everyman” to achieve whatever goals they have. With his help, I was able to redpoint my first 5.13 a couple months back.

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Workout Without Equipment (2)

Ok, here’s more climbing exercises you can do without any equipment…

Exercise: Spiderman, Spiderman Press
Muscles: Shoulders, abs, chest
Benefits: Power, tension

Set up as for a Front Plank- facing ground with feet shoulder width apart, forearms on ground and parallel. Highstep one leg so foot is outside of elbow, move leg back down, switch sides, repeat. A set of ten each side is a good start.spiderman exercise for climbing

Easier: Modify as per Front Plank easier modification
Harder: Move on to hands as in a push-up. When foot is next to elbow, do a push-up
spiderman press for climbing
Exercise: Jack Knife Sit-Ups
Muscles: Abs
Benefits: Body tension especially footwork on steep terrain.

Lay on your back. Raise left knee, left foot flat, right hand in small of back. Raise right foot, and sit up. Touch right foot with left hand. Do ten reps, switch sides.jack knife sit ups equals core strenth
climbing sit up
Again, thanks to Dave at Athletik Spesifik for the exercises.

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