Frank

9th Jul 2008

Question:

I wanted to ask you something. I am not very happy with my climbing progress and I was wondering what your opinion is.

My onsight level has been progressing ok since I haven't been projecting anything this last year. It had mainly to do with traveling so much and not wanting to spend all the time on one climb during a certain trip but rather visit other areas too.

So here's what's going on: I can onsight 7a+ and more and more 7b's now, yet when I get on a 7c or 7c+ I get shutdown! It seems I am able to do the moves but cannot sustain any harder climbing for very long. In fact I get too pumped, or 'beyond pumped', making it impossible to recover even at a rest after hard climbing.

Is it my level of fitness? I am confused, since it could also be anaerobic endurance that I’m lacking. It is very frustrating and I am not sure how to address this problem. Bouldering could help (I haven't done any in at least two years) but that's more for gaining pure power isn't it?

Keep in mind that Kalymnos has very long climbs also. The climb I tried is 35m long and basically bouldering between good rests and very overhanging.

Answer:

Making gains whilst on a long trip is not always easy but one thing that generally happens is that your endurance improves- a lot! Well, that is unless you are spending your days hanging out in the local markets rather than cranking at the crag.

It seems to me from what you have said, you are not lacking in the fitness stakes but are lacking in the power levels.

Power is certainly not going to be upped if you are just focusing on onsighting and I can understand why you are from what you have said about the travelling scenario. Before you go off on a trip you need to try and be as strong as possible if you want your grades to improve while away. Or, you have to be prepared to cut out the onsighting for a bit and get ensconced on some projects that will; work your weaknesses (short bouldery things), give you some hard ticks but most importantly your bouldery strength will be worked and should improve. You will probably need to rest well if you are red pointing these kinds of routes.

What you describe when you get on 7c’s and 7c+’s is that you are getting powered out. You have enough power to do these moves but you don’t have the power endurance to sustain more moves at this level. This is a very common problem, especially if you have just been onsighting.

So as I said redpointing will address this issue. You will ideally choose routes that all the moves are possible for you fairly quickly but linking them in a oner (is that a word?) feels nigh on impossible. Working on the sequences will have a twofold effect:

1. You will be learning some good movement patterns. You will have to work these moves so you do them the easiest way possible, therefore getting through them smoothly and quickly.

2. Trying to link sections will naturally be training your power endurance. You will not be able to stop to rest (this is the training effect you are looking for) but will have to just keep climbing hard moves one after another.

In conclusion:

Redpointing is the way. It might not be what you had planned to do but if you are on a longish trip it will be a fun, beneficial way to get to the next level.