the routes doth call

20 04 2009


you ever look at pictures of sport climbing and say to yourself “man, that looks badass!”?

yeah, me neither.  i mean, why would i want to do several boulder problems in a row when i’m already having so much fun doing them in the single?  plus. if you need more than two hands to count the number of moves in a problem, it’s no longer climbing.  it’s math.

but just the other day i took a gander at a picture of the red and thought “hey, i should climb there.”  from what i’ve read in the mags it’s not only world-class, but it’s really close to my house.  win – win; i like world-classiness AND i hate driving.  but then i remembered how tall everything is.  and how short i am relative to them.  it took me two hours and my calculator, but after some work i came up with this formula:


and that about sums up my relationship with clipping bolts in the red.  i fail at climbing really tall things, or rather they fail at having me climb them.  either way, show me an awful crag with stupid ‘bolted boulder problems’ and i’ll be there in a flash; stick clipping the second bolt and ticking lines like i’m getting paid for it.  but anything more than about 32′ and i’m gonna have to change my tactics.

on changing tactics:

here are the components of my plan.  add these to my current yoga/dave wahl core routine and what you have is….  some guy exercising a lot so he can climb up relatively tall cliffs only so he can start bouldering again and lose all the gains:

1) 4 x 4: four timed 5 move boulder problems with a rest commensurable with time on rock. 15 minute rest and repeat.

2) Active Rest 4 x 4: four consecutive boulder problems with a good rest and an easy downclimb. quite a bit harder than the 4 x 4 because you add 20 some moves in the downclimbing and get 0 no hands rests. also seems better for (re)creating route conditions and allows one to get a good feel for their pump threshold.

3) hit strip/campus run laddering: this is somewhat specific to my wall, but is not so complex as to not be reproduced elsewhere. in this routine i basically use (pad sized) crimps on the nicros hit strips, climb to the top, feet-on ladder up a set of nicros campus rungs just above the strips, head back down and repeat to failure. i follow this with a 2 minutes rest and repeat the sequence 3 times. i really like this workout because I always end due to my inability to pull more semi-hard moves. the 4 x 4 is fun, but sometimes my failure can be attributed to a non-forearm node in the body network that helps us “make with the climbing”. it’s also nice if you’re into quantifying gains and/or need some non-yds/v-scale/font numbers to make training more rewarding.

4) 5/10’s: using the same hit strip/campus rung stack, i do a similar laddering routine but instead of trying to move quickly between holds, i dead hang the large crimps for 10 seconds an arm and the campus rungs for 5.

5) Pick Two:  this is a newer one i’ve been trying.  basically i pick two problems on the wall, climb one, downclimb, climb the other, and then rest at the top.  basicially 20 moves and then a rest.  from the rest you start planning your next two.  the reason i like this is because you have to work your brain a bit to sort through the upcoming downclimbs and problem sequences.  in many cases, when i try and just project really long routes in the garage i tend to rely mostly on memorization rather than keeping calm and thinking clearly.

if you have any comments, suggestions, or whatever – feel free to share.




16 responses

20 04 2009

My two cents (which are free by the way) – cut out numbers 1-5 and replace them with:
1. drive to red
2. set up camp in souther region
3. climb on the undertow wall 5 days a week.

You will soon develop the endurance to climb v4 for thousands of feet.


20 04 2009


20 04 2009

Oh man!
Is this what I shoulda been doing before heading to the red?
I am in a w-o-r-l-d of trouble.

20 04 2009

The secret to climbing harder (12+, 13-) at the red is to be able to climb some v3/v4 moves, rest , repeat. With this in mind, I like to alternate between workouts with 5×5’s (I shoot for v5,v4,v4,v4,v3) without the downclimb and 6 x6’s (I shoot for v4, v4, v3, v3, v3, v2) with a down climb. With the down climb, I try not to camp out on big holds. I take a maximum of one quick shake per hold. I make the 5×5 or the 6×6 the focus of the workout. Usually I follow up with some longer boulder problems and an easier 4×4 with downclimb. This training seems to work well for me.

I also switch between 3 weeks of power, and then 3 weeks of Power endurance (described above).

21 04 2009

in my experience, endurance is 50% (or more) tactics, technique, feel, expecially in that kind of awsome boulder-rest-boulder-rest-boulder style.

all your ideas all seem nice tips, I’ll add mine : if you make several days in a row there, start out with a lazy day. Climb some “easy” stuff focusing on getting a nice “flow”, to master rhythm, breathing, rests, foot changes, clipping, etc. No big pump, no “at the limit” feeling.. Then if still strong, after 4-5 routes finish with a quick session to refresh/work out the moves of a project, but no long link-ups or serious attempts. Finish well before feeling exhausted. Have some nice and generous carbohydrate-based meal after the climb.
The next day you will be in awesome shape for endurance climbing, much better than after a rest day.

tip2 : if you make several one-day trips and you have a “rope season”, early in the rope season focus on climbing as many easy routes you can in a day. 10 100-foot routes is a good starting point.
No big rests throughout the day, if your partner stops pull the rope and climb again. Remember to drink a lot.
“Easy” means something where you still climb relaxed and under control, you don’t risk to overgrip, shake legs, make silly mistakes because pump is getting from the forearms up to your brain, etc. Something you can climb while chatting with your belayer.
Rule of thumb in US grades, one number below limit, eg : onsight max 5.12b, pick onsights around 5.11b. Redpoint limit 5.13a, pick 5.12a’s you could climb blindfolded.
Adjust the routes’ difficulty according to how you feel.
Finish a bit trashed, climbing lower and lower grades.
Two sessions of this can already make a big difference.

warning : tip2 is very effective for rope climbing but kills your boulder power a bit.

21 04 2009
peter beal

regimen for world class result in Sport climbings–Attempt climbings, fall from 10 feet below chains, then 6 feet, then 2 feet then clipping chains. Rest one day, repeat. Rest one more day. Send, or not. Repeat, repeat, repeat…

22 04 2009

So what you’re all saying is that if I ever want to climb a route longer than 30 feet and harder than 12a I should do something other than boulder twice a week at the gym with no plan/structure/etc?

Sounds lame.

22 04 2009
peter beal

Not if you are Chris Sharma or a reasonable facsimile thereof

22 04 2009

omg. what if you are just a facsimile?

23 04 2009

I would argue that, since humans share like 99% of their DNA with all other humans, I am a reasonable facsimile of our lord and savior Chris Sharma. And yet I flail on any 10d or harder route more than 40 feet long. Mysteries wrapped in enigmas wrapped in conundrums wrapped in soy bacon.

mmm… soy bacon…

23 04 2009

this is totally unreasonable.

ooh. training question: hangboard + 30% of body weight + 30 minute ‘routes’ = ?????????

anything? or would this be a waste of time?

24 04 2009
peter beal

As in more of a waste of time than climbing itself? Off to the library…

24 04 2009

speaking of wasting time…. books. sheesh.

24 04 2009
sock hands

my training regimen has been working wonders: 5:30 wake up. coffee. 5:36 start climbing dvd on basement old ass rig. coffee. watch someone stronger than me do something awesome. do, like, maybe a pull up or something. coffee/watch more. put climbing shoes on. this is a 15 minute process that does involve coffee and watching the television. do a warm up circular lap on tiny wall with biggest jugs ever. note aching in knees and finger joints. coffee/watch. decide maybe it would be better to give the knees and fingers a rest, so go over and do, like, 10 pushing things with that fake weight machine that uses rubbery plastic instead of metal weights. decide this is all stupid and go up to check blogs before shower and going to work.


so far, i’ve experienced tremendous gains in my caffeine tolerance and ability to get to work late on account of blogs.

live this plan.

25 04 2009

aching. i am all empathetic and stuff.

30 04 2009
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