Monday, 25 July 2011

Overcoming my rock climbing weaknesses

For someone who has primarily been a boulderer for 10 years, I thought it high time to start trying to get a little fitness that would allow me to stay on the wall for more than just five or six intense moves. 

I love bouldering and I have no intention of switching entirely to another discipline, but that's not to stop me occasionally tying in and working on a sport route, or scaring myself witless fumbling with gear placements on a trad line. But what most prompted me to try to develop a little stamina is actually my progression as a boulderer. 

Of late, due to taking training a little more seriously, I have started to see gains in my bouldering; being able to flash problems that previously would have taken a little more work and redpointing lines that I might have only been able to complete in sections beforehand. And whilst this has been hugely motivating, it has also given me an eye for greater and larger lines, where I'm attached to the rock a little longer than before, pulling through several sections or traversing a long line of small holds. But with this psyche came the realisation that I'm basically not in very good shape when it comes to holding on for more than a minute or two - and shaking out and recovering while still on the wall feels almost completely alien.

Some say that building endurance will take away from power, but I have to disagree with that theory and say that building a little endurance will allow me to exert the power over a longer period of time. 

So, in order to see gains in this realm, I have started taking on some epic traverses, staying on the wall as long as feebly possible and then making that next move despite the feeling that my forearms are going to explode from lactic build-up. And, truthfully, I am really enjoying it. But man do I ache the next day. I haven't felt like this is years - it's an awesome feeling!

Just yesterday, in fact, I spent around an hour-and-a-half working a 25-30ft traverse - the first 15 feet being relatively straightforward, with jugs and good feet placements, followed by a section of sharp, fingery holds and spaced out footholds - and by the time I'd started getting weaker on individual moves (that's the time to move on) I had had an amazing workout and really enjoyed myself. However, to finish the day off and for the icing on the cake, I went to do some 4-5 move wonders. I was that tired from traversing, though, that it took me nearly an hour to work a 6A+, a 6B+ and a 6C. Still, they were great little boulder problems and I will definitely go back to do them again, with a little more panache and fresher arms.

For now though, the change of pace has reinvigorated my motivation to go rock climbing (not that I was really lacking, but it's given me the extra boost) and I can't wait to get out again. I hope everyone else is as psyched as me to CLIMB! :-).