Tom

24th Aug 2009

Question:

I’ve been climbing about 1 and 1/2 yrs and worked up to around 6c/7a/7b, depending on the route etc. My problem is I don’t find the moves too bad but it’s having the same energy in my forearms when I started the route, when I’m half way up! I’ve been trying to do circuits and up downs to sort it out but it’s a slow process. I feel like if I had better power endurance I’d be able to up a couple more grades. My strength is not an issue. Should I really really concentrate on power endurance for a while and forget hard bouldering leading?

Your help would much appreciated.

Thank you,

Tom.

Answer:

You sound like you have a handle on your climbing but it’s tricky to glean from this letter the real underlying problem.

Reading between the lines, you are strong enough for these routes and regularly boulder hard. You are doing circuits, which should help your power endurance albeit not as quickly as you’d like. It does sound like your recovery is not as good as it could be and maybe, you aren’t using what you’ve already got in the most efficient way.

You haven’t been climbing that long and it really does take time to learn how to move correctly and apply your strength to routes.

I would suggest you do need to do more leading because:

a. When you get half way up a route and start to feel pumped, it can be a very unnerving feeling; you know time is running out and panic can start to set in. It’s important to get used to this feeling and learn how to work with it rather than let it fluster you.

b. Also, you need to work out how to rest while you’re climbing. It’s easily over looked and people try to sprint up routes without stopping or thinking and this just isn’t physiologically possible. Even a quick shake to both arms for a few seconds can make the difference between either hanging in there or falling off.

c. Lastly, you have to try really hard on routes. It’s obviously not like bouldering where the mental commitment comes in very short bursts, with routes you have to push yourself physically and mentally for sustained periods. And if you’re not used to this, it can be easy to feel like giving up.

So, mileage on routes will help a lot. If you try to find resting points, your recovery will improve. Learn to clip from good positions, i.e. not too far below the quickdraw and use that strength you’ve got in the appropriate places- not on every single move!

Good luck.