Posted on February 27 2015
So far we’ve looked at fingerboarding, campusing and flexibility as possible pathways to improving our climbing. In this article we will take a look at how to put it all this together and fulfil our secret ‘grade whore’ ambitions. Firstly its important to realise that whilst climbing on the face of it is a non-competitive sport the reality is quite different. If you spend enough time with other climbers you’ll realise there is a certain ‘cliquishness’ to their behaviour. This shouldn’t reflect badly on us, its simply what happens when you spend most of your time, money and energy trying to climb up a boulder/cliff/mountain via the most difficult/dangerous route. The pointlessness of the endeavour encourages people to seek solace in the company of others with similar ambitions. The topic of conversation and langue used within these circles can be quite exclusive and whilst climbers are generally a friendly bunch it may seem difficult for those on the outside to even understand what they’re talking about. Whilst gaining acceptance into such a circle is relatively straight forward, start climbing, learn a few new words etc. gaining respect within said group can be harder.
As a general rule climbers are not the most law abiding citizens around. Partaking in a sport where there are basically no rules doesn’t (or didn’t until relatively recently) attract the accounts of this world. The dirtbag, generally living in a van or simply camping below a crag isn’t an uncommon site at climbing venues. On the surface of it there is little to differentiate between the homeless and the dirtbag except in terms of aspiration. Whilst a homeless person may want after the trappings of modernity, a shower, car, fridge; the dirtbag has actively rejected such comforts. Like a Monk or pilgrim such material excess detracts from the pureness of spirit gleaned from simply climbing. To put it another way having a job leaves less time for climbing. If you are willing to forego regular showers, shitting in a real toilet, and being warm when you wake up then you can do a lot of climbing.
Gaining notoriety within a group is a well documented aspect of the human condition. Given the lawlessness or at least antiestablishment/counter-culture prevalent within climbing circles the world over, there are many highly entertaining/potentially dangerous pranks which could generate respect amongst peers. Unfortunately this is a training article and as such which should cover ways to gain respect through improved climbing and leave the tales of hallucinogenic soloing to others.
Putting it all together:
If you have been following this detailed and highly rigorous training schedule then you should be able to do a pinky one armer on the smallest campus rung at the wall with one leg flexed behind your head. Impressive though you are you still wont have a clue how to move between holds (unless campusing) so here are a few useful tips and hints.
Unfortunately this aspect of training requires you to actually go climbing. That is the easiest, best and pretty much only way to improve. Your legs contain the biggest muscles in your body, it is therefore pretty obvious you should use these as much as possible, firstly to help you gain upward progress and secondly because those muscles weigh a lot. By moving them around they can become a tail of sorts, reducing the weight on your arms and distributing your weight differently to aid in your quest for the next hold.
The clue is in the name here. If you point one knee towards the ground/try and look like an Egyptian hieroglyph, whilst your foot is still on the wall it means the weight of that leg is taken by hold and not your ams. It also adjusts your body position so your centre of gravity is closer to the wall again transferring weight off your arms.
This seemingly cryptically named move is important for balance. As you don’t have a tail you have to use something else to move weight around to improve your balance. Again using that heavy inconvenient appendage below your waist is useful. There are two kinds, inside and outside flags. Depending on the kind of move you are trying you may find one or other useful especially on steeper walls.
This is one of the first moves you will have learnt when you start climbing. On vertical walls you simply put one foot on a higher hold and transfer your weight onto it, pushing with your foot. Ensure your hips are close to the wall to avoid pushing you out and experiment with taking an arm off whilst you do it. Ultimately a one footed squat would probably be of more use to you that a one arm pull up!
Despite the focus of most training articles/books/manuals on the arms its your legs which should be doing most of the work. As mentioned in a previous article it is useful to watch girls climb. They often have much better technique than guys as they rely so little on upper body strength. There’s loads of info on the web about how to improve your technique but the best advice is definitely just to go climbing, talk to other climbers and watch other people doing things you struggled on. Whilst its easy to see climbing as a non competitive sport there is always an underlying sense of satisfaction in burning your mates off at the crag. If this fails however you can always be safe in the knowledge that you are participating in a sport where until relatively recently training was regarded as cheating and ones capacity for drink and drugs was almost as important as ones ability on the rock.
(For some actual advice try this free video)