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Desperately Seeking 8a
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By Kevin Stricker
From Evergreen, CO
Jan 27, 2008

So let's get personal....no holds barred. What keeps us from achieving the higher grades, and what are the secrets of the crankmeisters to maintain motivation over the years to expose their weakness and exploit their strengths?

Personally I have spent the last 5 years perusing the zen of hard slabs and desperate cracks. Finally having pushed both of these elements into the hard 5.12 range I am looking to expand my abilities in other ways. Unfortunately my skills/fitness on overhanging sport routes has not progressed through this training...suprise surprise.

With international destinations on the horizon I feel it is time to surpass my threshold of 5.12+ and reach the mythical grade of 8a. Unfortunately I do not have the patience or resources to spend every weekend at Rifle for the next 5 months. I have built a strong base of schemas over the years on most angles of rock and onsighted up to easy 12 (trad or sport), redpointed 12+, and boulder up to V6. It always seems though when I crank up the intensity I am courting Ms. tendonitis and dancing the waltz with her. Over the years, although I have been vigilant in periodization and progression pyramids I have not spent much time doing supplemental sport specific training. Mostly I have just climbed (bracing for the javelin toss from Mr. Anderson.) With decent power and great endurance I know that my weakness lies in the strength and Power endurance arena, I just am not able to spend tons of time at the crags to work on these elements.

After 15 years of climbing I am finally ready to open myself to non-climbing training if that is what it will take to get me to the next level. With a 10 month old at home I find that I have time to train, but fewer opportunities than ever to climb outside(1-2 times a week max).

Hangboards, campusing, systems training, or just plain pulling down...what has helped you break through the 5.12 barrier and reach the nirvana of 5.13 where you are worshiped by the masses while you flex for the cameras. Also what keeps you motivated to pull on plastic and wood through the winter months and helps keep Ms. T off your back ( or elbows ).

Thanks for your replies and let's get this forum going people! (RC.com has almost 2400 threads in it's training forum, although it does have a 7 year lead on us. In the meantime we are not able to generate enough interest to even keep a post on the front page!)


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By KCP
From Eldorado Springs, CO
Jan 27, 2008

Excellent topic, Kevin.

I climbed seriously from 1979 to 1990, but never redpointed harder than 12B (a trad route on Cathedral Ledge, called Heather).

It wasn't until I moved to Boulder in 1990 that the secret to climbing at a very high level was revealed to me. Without going into the long, drawn-out details, I'll paraphrase Jim Karn's answer to your question: 'When climbing becomes more important to you than everything else in life, then what to eat and how to train will become clear to you.' Again, I'm paraphrasing, but the point is the same. It wasn't long after I adopted that attitude before I did my first 5.13.

It's easy to read the mags and think that 5.13 has become the grade of trivial warm ups, but that is fantasy, except in the case of some of today's top elite. The fact is that 5.13 is really hard, and getting there takes full physical, technical, and, most importantly, mental commitment.


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By Darren Mabe
From Flagstaff, AZ
Jan 27, 2008
wham bam hand jam. Wrapping up the final moves of Twist of Fate, Oak Creek Canyon. <br /> <br />photo: Blake McCord

kevin. great post.

was it Pete Gallagher that said: "there is no trick to climbing 5.12, just quit your job and climb every day". i would guess that would be the same for the unlucky-number grade.

so thats what i did a couple years ago, started self-employed window cleaning, which really meant full time climbing while working on my guidebook. and sure enough, he was right. and now i am broke.

I am still not even close to "8a", but close enough to realize it has something to do with working the piss out of routes, climbing quickly through the shitty holds, sometimes climbing with a partner that is better than you (a mentor-type), working out the antagonist muscles (currently nursing elbow tendonitus from either window cleaning or some route in Indian Creek, and a strained shoulder from that damn iron cross move on the Brennivin Roof). probably less smoking, less drinking, more yoga. and dare i say >gulp< more bouldering. 13 (and the immortal grades above) moves require more imaginative technique, unless you are mutant strong.

but really, for me personally, my barrier is my mind... it always has been. eh, how many times do i need to read the Rock Warrior Way before it sticks?


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Jan 28, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

Kevin, I'd be curious to hear if you have gotten on an 8a recently. I think it was Todd Skinner who said that in order to climb harder, it sometimes helps to get on routes beyond your limit so that you can really understand what you're working toward.

I would suggest that if you are onsighting 5.12 sport routes, that 5.13 is certainly within range. The conventional wisdom is that you should be able to redpoint somewhere within a number grade beyond your onsight level. I think the energy expended in onsighting 12a could be comparable to the energy you would expend on a redpoint burn on a 5.13 that you have ruthlessly sussed.

I think it comes down to the ruthlessly sussing part of the process. You mentioned that you have had tendonitis issues in the past. So, I think the key is to find an 8a that is convenient for you to climb on, and one that does not hurt your body. Then, it's a matter of putting the time in on the big proj.

I think a lot of people get caught up in the "pyramid" aspect of working routes (sites like 8a.nu have really forwarded this line of thinking). There is some validity in this, as it's necessary to have a solid base in order to move on. But, I think it's easy to take this mentality too far and use it in such a way that it limits progress. It's not really necessary to do six 13a's before moving on to the 13b. I think it is far more important to be super-psyched on the route you are climbing on, and if 8a is the goal, why not just get on one? From the sounds of it, you have a really solid base (12 onsights and 12+ cracks), so why wait?


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By KCP
From Eldorado Springs, CO
Jan 28, 2008

Jay Knower wrote:
Kevin, I'd be curious to hear if you have gotten on an 8a recently. I think it was Todd Skinner who said that in order to climb harder, it sometimes helps to get on routes beyond your limit so that you can really understand what you're working toward. I would suggest that if you are onsighting 5.12 sport routes, that 5.13 is certainly within range. The conventional wisdom is that you should be able to redpoint somewhere within a number grade beyond your onsight level. I think the energy expended in onsighting 12a could be comparable to the energy you would expend on a redpoint burn on a 5.13 that you have ruthlessly sussed. I think it comes down to the ruthlessly sussing part of the process. You mentioned that you have had tendonitis issues in the past. So, I think the key is to find an 8a that is convenient for you to climb on, and one that does not hurt your body. Then, it's a matter of putting the time in on the big proj. I think a lot of people get caught up in the "pyramid" aspect of working routes (sites like 8a.nu have really forwarded this line of thinking). There is some validity in this, as it's necessary to have a solid base in order to move on. But, I think it's easy to take this mentality too far and use it in such a way that it limits progress. It's not really necessary to do six 13a's before moving on to the 13b. I think it is far more important to be super-psyched on the route you are climbing on, and if 8a is the goal, why not just get on one? From the sounds of it, you have a really solid base (12 onsights and 12+ cracks), so why wait?


I have gotten on some hard routes, but as I said a few times, my fitness is way down from my injuries and down-time. Lets just say that the moves felt impossible, and all the technique and mental will in the world wouldn't get me up them right now.

I agree with you that Kevin appears to be climbing at a level close enough that if he bares down on the right route, he should eventually be able to do it. I just don't believe that climbing 5.13 is attainable to most people, without full commitment. That has been my experience, and I have climbed with many people, of all experience levels.

I have been where you are, Jay, and I remember having the attitude, at that point, that anyone could do what I was doing. It is very easy to feel that way when you are that fit. You spend a lot of time at Rumney, climbing with very dedicated people, so it probably seems like the majority climb at that level. In that small group, I'm sure that they do. However, they make up a very small percentage of all of the climbers in the Northeast. Most recreational climbers (the majority) climb nowhere near that level, and some of them climb quite a bit.

I was climbing 5.13 in the nineties, and my peers were a very small group of elite climbers - people like Jeff Cloud, Steve Hong, Pat Adams, Tommy Caldwell, etc. When I compared myself to them, which was easy to do because they were the people with whom I regularly trained, I felt like a weakling who really sucked. I was working a route one day, with Jeff Cloud, and I asked him if he could tell why I wasn't making the next leap into their level, and his answer was very insightful. He told me that I clearly had the strength and technique of the others but that I wasn't trying nearly as hard. He thought that I didn't fight hard enough. He then told me that telling myself that I sucked was pointless because I was climbing in the top 10% of ability in the country at the time. The problem was that I was comparing myself to the very best in the sport. The lightbulb went on, and I realized that it was all about perspective.

He was right that I wasn't trying hard enough. I would get on 5.13s, and I wouldn't send until they felt easy to me. After that, I started learning how to fight through the burn until it really sucked, and I was amazed at how many more moves I could do when it felt like my forearms would explode. Just thinking about all of this reminds me of the commitment involved in training and climbing at that level.

This topic is also helping me because I am at a crossroads about whether or not I want to make that type of commitment again. I have no delusions about ever climbing 5.15, but I am pretty confident that I could reach my old high point and possibly increase it, with enough commitment. I really miss climbing hard, but I am not sure that it is as important to me as it once was. Time will tell.

One last thought, because I think it applies at that level. I remember that I never climbed as hard in the gym as I did outside, and some of the people who only climbed with me indoors questioned whether I was really sending as hard as I claimed. The fact is that my belayers were there, and everyone knew them, but the point is that I realize why I couldn't climb beyond 12+ in the gym. It was self consciousness. I was afraid to fail with so many people watching me, so I only got on things that I could do fairly easily. I guess what I am saying is that it is easy for some of us to allow ego to get in the way of making real progress, and it should be avoided at all costs.

Great topic.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Jan 28, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

Ken Cangi wrote:
I have been where you are, Jay, and I remember having the attitude, at that point, that anyone could do what I was doing. It is very easy to feel that way when you are that fit. You spend a lot of time at Rumney, climbing with very dedicated people, so it probably seems like the majority climb at that level. In that small group, I'm sure that they do. However, they make up a very small percentage of all of the climbers in the Northeast. Most recreational climbers (the majority) climb nowhere near that level, and some of them climb quite a bit.


Ken, I hear you. I am not saying that anyone can climb 8a. It wouldn't be a "benchmark grade" if everyone could do it. I know that many people out there don't want to (or can't) climb 8a, and there is nothing wrong with that. The point I was trying to make was that it is just so easy to put mental limits on performance. I think you eluded to this point in your post. Most of us are much stronger than we think we are, and lessening the disconnect between perceived strength and actual strength is often a good way to break into that next grade, whether that grade be 8a or 6a or 4a.

Then there is the case when perceived strength is much higher than actual strength. I ran into this situation when I got smacked around on a couple of Gunks 5.8's yesterday.


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jan 28, 2008
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

First, a tiny hijack:

Ken, that it is my all-time favorite climbing quote, and now you will have to suffer through me telling you why. I believe the quote comes from Masters of Stone II (the one where Jim Karn is bouldering at Morrison), and your paraphrase is very good (all of the important stuff is there).

The reason I love the quote, is that I first heard it at a time when I was thirsty for silver-bullet training knowledge. The message was cryptic and frustrating. Why won't you just tell us how many sets to do, Jim?!? Then after many years of personal growth, I heard the quote again, and it all made sense to me. There is a plethora of training advice out there, and based on my observations (of other "good" climbers), it all works. Some stuff won't work for everybody, and certain activities (like monotonous hangboarding) only suit certain folks. But plenty of folks have gotten "good" following a wide variety of programs. So clearly the method of training is not so critical. I believe, and I think this was Karn's point, all that matters is that you care more about improving than anything else, (or at least care enough about it to do whatever it takes for you to make it happen). The message is about getting to a point where you are willing to do whatever it takes, make sacrifices, etc, even if that means donning lycra and lowering your ethical standards to the level of sport climbing (gasp!).

Kevin, I agree totally with Jay that you currently posess the physical abilities to climb 8a. Its rare that you will encounter moves harder than V6 on an 8a (unless its really short, in which case, why bother? All the classic lines are LONG). I don't think you require a drastice training upheaval. You just need to try some projects. There is an art to projecting routes, just like everything else. It helps to observe some "pros" and see how they approach things.

-Plan what you are going to do before you arrive at the crag. You should know what your project will be, when its in the sun/shade, ensure you are there at the right time of year, have a good idea of where you will warmup, and what time you want to get on the proj. This seems obvious (and condescending) to me, and probably others, but its amazing how many people show up at the crag without cracking the guidebook before hand.

-If you don't have a stick clip, go get one. This much derided tool is extremely useful. The first time you go up on your proj, you shouldn't be taking lead falls. You should hang at virtually every bolt (unless the climbing is very easy), and you should pull through on draws (or use the stick clip) to establish a TR on all the hard sections, to identify all of the potential holds and determine the most effective sequences. One problem folks have with projecting is that they try for the on-sight first, then they get severly pumped, so their next burn is worse than the first, and so on, until they declare the objective 'impossible'. Don't do this. Go bolt to bolt until you've sent a few of them.

-Excessive use of tick marks can be very helpful for beginning project-ors. This will offend many others, so consider the climber-traffic at your selected crag (best to avoid high-traffic or traditional areas). You might want to only leave the tick marks up for the first day, then brush them thoroughly at the end of the day. In any case, thorough brushing is mandatory. For extremely complex sequences, I sometimes use a system of 4 different ticks for right hand, left hand, right foot, left foot. This stuff can really help when you are starting out, but expect to be ridiculed (this gets back to Jim Karn's message). I guess the point here is, you shouldn't be figuring out the moves on the send. You should have all of the moves dialed. Ideally you can lay in bed, and visualize the entire sequence (feet are hard to remember, but critical) from the ground to the chains. The tick marks will help with this if you have trouble, however, they can become a crutch, so be sure to ween yourself early.

-Learn to care for your skin. This has a huge impact on the amount/intensity of climbing you can do in a day. Get a sanding block and some implements for cutting away dead skin. Nail clippers are good, cuticle cutters are ideal.

If this info is helpful, LMK, and I'll spew some more.

If you want serious advice on training, I recommend Performance Rock Climbing by Dale Goddard/Udo Neuman, and Rockprodigy's hangboarding essay on RC.com.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Jan 28, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

That's fantastic advice Monomaniac.

I almost always "lay in bed, and visualize the entire sequence," when I'm amped on a big project. This to me is the best time during a project. You have already figured out the moves, and maybe have done all or most of the moves individually, and now it all comes down to refinement. How perfectly can you execute the series of moves? Does the knee scum at the second bolt allow you to have more energy at the ninth bolt?

BTW, If you can do all of the moves individually on a project, you absolutely CAN send the route. The only question is how much time will it take. If you're in for the long hall, and not in a hurry to send (this pressure is the surest way to stop having fun on a project), then it will happen.


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By KCP
From Eldorado Springs, CO
Jan 28, 2008

Monomaniac wrote:
If you want serious advice on training, I recommend Performance Rock Climbing by Dale Goddard/Udo Neuman.


This book was my Bible when I was training full-time. I wore the pages out.

BTW, good post.


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jan 28, 2008
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

Ken, your self-awareness is admirable! I'm inclined to disagree about the attainability of 5.13 for the average person, but I defer to your experience on the subject. I tend to believe that almost anyone willing to make the commitment can attain that level, but that few are willing to do so.

However, I also realize the inherrent narcissism involved in such a belief. I like to think anyone can do it, because that would mean I've achieved this level through hard work and dedication, rather than because I was blessed with unusual natural talent.

Quote from the film "Without Limits" about Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine: "Steve, your greatest vanity is your belief that you have no talent..."


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Jan 28, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

I looked at that Dale Goddard book, but the pictures made me feel like my legs were too big.


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By KCP
From Eldorado Springs, CO
Jan 28, 2008

Monomaniac wrote:
Ken, your self-awareness is admirable! I'm inclined to disagree about the attainability of 5.13 for the average person, but I differ to your experience on the subject. I tend to beleive that almost anyone willing to make the commitment can attain that level, but that few are willing to do so.


I think we are basically saying the same thing, just worded differently. My point is that getting to that level takes full commitment, and anyone willing to devote his or herself to the task has a better chance of success. Without the commitent, however, the chances of success are slim to none.


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jan 28, 2008
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

Kevin,

RE: tendonitis, I'm curious to know more about your symptoms. My worst bouts of tendonitis have come when I was climbing easy, high volume (trad multi-pitch). I rarely get it when doing powerful things. I find that when I'm projecting hard routes, I spent a lot less time on the rock, vs. going to Shelf and climbing 15 pitches of 5.11 and below in a day. The high-volume days are the worst (for tendonitis) for me.

Its possible that some simple measures could resolve this. Make sure you're taking adequate rest days, and that you don;t spend your rest day digging holes witha shovel, or building a stone retaining wall, or playing the guitar for 5 hours. You might also try a nightly ice bath.

Also, using a grigri can help save your hands from the added stress of clutching the rope for 4+ hours/climbing day.


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By KCP
From Eldorado Springs, CO
Jan 28, 2008

Monomaniac wrote:
Make sure you're taking adequate rest days, and that you don;t spend your rest day digging holes witha shovel, or build a stone retaining wall, or playing the guitar for 5 hours.


Absolutely agree. Rest means rest - e.g., reading a book, watching movies, etc.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Jan 28, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

Monomaniac,

I'm interested in how you dealt with the tweaky nature of Scarface. How many goes could you give it in a day? How many days off did you need for your fingers? Did you automatically tape for the monos, or did you start taping after tweakage happened (if it did)?


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jan 28, 2008
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

Jay, I sent you a PM to spare the community from my spray...


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By abc
Jan 28, 2008

mono,

I think a lot of people would be interested in your answer. Or at least, I am.


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By KCP
From Eldorado Springs, CO
Jan 28, 2008

Monomaniac wrote:
Jay, I sent you a PM to spare the community from my spray...


Mono,

So far, your posts have been informative and right on the mark, so I wouldn't worry about them coming off as spray. Try to remember that the reason that I proposed the training forum was so that climbers who were looking for advice and insight might have a place to find it.

The details of how you went about climbing Scareface might seem insignificant to you, but I am sure that there are climbers in here who are looking for that very information. Remember what you said about Karn:

Monomaniac wrote:
I was thirsty for silver-bullet training knowledge. The message was cryptic and frustrating. Why won't you just tell us how many sets to do, Jim?!?


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By Maurice Liddy
From Plymouth, NH
Jan 28, 2008
Personal photo, riding the rails in SD

BrettPierce wrote:
mono, I think a lot of people would be interested in your answer. Or at least, I am.


I agree, lay it on us!


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By slim
Administrator
Jan 28, 2008
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

terrific thread everybody, very positive and a lot of good insight.

ken, good point on several things, ie the importance of trying really f'ing hard. i also have the tendency to 'wait' for the send until it feels 'easy'. i definitely need to work on going absolutely full throttle more ofen (read: ever). also, it is indeed kind of overwhelming climbing in the BRC, where everybody and their grandma is lapping the 13's. i definitely get self conscious in there and have a hard time really going for it (ie failing) in front of others.

kevin, i've seen you around quite a bit, and from things i've heard from others, you have the dedication, ability, and work ethic to do it. i just read a quote from ron kauk the other day, something to the effect of "don't go up there to climb it, just go up there". i'm not sure what this fully means, as ron is a pretty deep guy. to me, it means something along the lines of not letting the self-imposed pressure keep you from letting it happen.

good luck kevin, and keep us posted!!


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By Kevin Stricker
From Evergreen, CO
Jan 28, 2008

Wow...thanks for all the great replies guys, good stuff to think about. I remember that quote of Skinner's, and I think it is a good one. I know that in many ways my natural aptitude at onsighting holds me back from climbing really hard routes. My first go is usually my best, then I get crappy for 3-4 attemps before firing most routes in 5-7 tries. I can honestly only remember 2 routes that I have ever "worked" more than 10 tries and they were not my hardest sends...go figure.

I remember climbing a bunch with an Austrian exchange student about 10 years ago and was always amazed at his ability to redpoint climbs. He would get on a hard route, hang at every bolt, pull the rope and usually fire on his second go. Armin was a mutant though and when I visited his home crags in Austria and saw the sickness that he trained on I started to understand.....having the strength and ability to boulder v12 really helped.

This will probably sound bad, but I think that having a natural aptitude for climbing has held me back in some ways. I redpointed my first 5.12 just a year into climbing, and had onsighted a few dozen 11's in the first 6 months. I also suffered my first finger injury about a month into climbing and had bad lateral epicondilitis within 2 years. Not having a natural aptitude for strength ( still can barely crank out sets of 10 pullups) I have felt like I am always dodging the bullet of overuse injuries. For this reason I think I have been drawn towards trad climbing, which seems nicer on my elbows (unless I am guiding, then it's murder). I haven't had a bad bout of tendonitis in about 5 years, and learned ( from Dave Pegg) that what seems to work best for me is to continue to climb ( easier) and not stop climbing as I had done in the past.

Luckily for me my main climbing partner is psyched to become a better sport climber...and has actually been the reason I have dug out the lycra and quickdraws. Of course the possibility of a trip to the Dolomites, Verdon and Ceuse this summer also has me psyched.

So thanks again for all the replies....I wasn't expecting a silver bullet, and know that improving is mostly about hard work. I have read almost all of the climbing training books multiple times ( my PRC copy is worn out too). Actually I was suprised and impressed reading the "Making of a Rockprodigy" article from Mike Anderson, to see someone putting it all together and using a "sport climber" routine to train for free climbing big walls...but that is the topic for another conversation.

My takeaway from your replies so far is that tactics and desire are as important as ability in becoming a rock star. Also climbing with people motivated to improve is important as well. Anyone else have some advice for me?

(edit: thanks Slim....I like Ron's quote too..and your encouragement. Also would love to hear about the Scarface send Mono!)


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jan 28, 2008
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

Here's my response to Jay's questions:

Easy question first: Since about 2003, when I started developing elbow tendonitis, I've made an effort to climb no more than every other day. This isn't always practical (El Cap, etc), but it generally is. This was the approach I used on Scarface. During a week of work I would climb Sat, Mon, Wed, Fri, Sunday.

For me, Scarface was an evolutionary process. I first got on the route in April 2005. I spent 4 days rope soloing, trying to see if I could do the moves. The route was well beyond me at that time, but I din't have a partner, so there wasn't anything else to climb, and I wanted to see what 5.14 felt like. Anyway, I couln't touch the mono move those first four days. I moved on, except that I added the mono sets to my hangboard regimen (oh ya, I do hangboard training). In March of 2006, I came back and worked the route for 5 more days. I was now able to do the mono move, as a deadpoint, but not regularly. I could do it consistently from a hang, but I was about 1 for 3 from the ground, and as the week wore on, my finger started to swell and ache. I had to take several rest days when the week was over. By the end of this week I could do all the moves regularly, but it was clear I lacked the power endurance to link the route.

Anyway, I came back for a week in March 07, and sent on day 4, after another year of working the hangboard (and doing some 4x4s for the PE). That time around the mono was automatic, and I could do it totally static. So, basically I trained for two years to do that move. There are other options. Most people deadpoint the move, so they don't need to be as strong, but it takes a lot more tries to send. Some people scum a second finger (see Ian Caldwell video on Smithrock.com), but that made it feel tweakier to me, and seemd low-percentage.

As for burns per day, I generally tried to do three burns a day, but usually the third burn was pretty worthless. The first half of the route is really powerful, and even if you pull through the mono, there are many other difficult lockoffs that require all of my power. Generally by my third burn I didn't have the power to make the lockoffs, so I was dynoing for everything, which won't work, since most of the holds are pockets, and you have to work your fingers in just right. Anyway, by the end of the process, I would only do two burns, or I would winch up to the slab for my third burn and work the 5.11 moves.

I did tape the base of my left middle finger from the get go. I never had any acute tweakage, but as stated above, there were some chronic effects. It was really only an issue in 2006, when I could 'sort-of' do the move, so I felt compelled to practice it several times per burn. In 2007, it was almost trivial, so I only did the move once per burn. If 2007 had gone like 2006, I would have taken two rest days in the middle opf the week (climb sat, mon, thur, sat). The other tape on that finger is actually to protect my skin. There's a sharp spike on the lip of the mono that gave me a huge flapper at one point. I think the tape makes the move slightly harder, but it saves the skin so you can try the route more times in a week.


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By John McNamee
Administrator
From Littleton, CO
Jan 28, 2008
Artist Tears P3

Excellent posts ... keep it coming...

Thanks.


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jan 28, 2008
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

Kevin,
The comment about natural aptitude is very interesting. I've often wondered about that. I occasionally see these mutant kids in the gym that climb 5.13 when they're 12, and then by 19 they've lost interest and quit climbing. Obviously they could be pushing the limits, but they don't care; its not meaningful to them, because its trivial. They didn't have to invest anything to get good, so there's no return on the investment in terms of feeling really good about an accomplishment that they worked hard for.

But this doesn't sound like your situation. Obviously you still care, and want to improve.

I think a lot of us are perpetually walking the line with overuse injuries. I know I am. I've really learned to listen to my body, and rest accordingly. I think rest is extremely key, and often disregarded. Pro climbers are lauded for being "psyched". Well, we're all psyched, aren't we? Its not hard to be psyched, this isn't running around a track, its actually fun! What's hard is holding back, despite being psyched, so that your body can recover, so you can come back stronger.

I wonder if trad climbing is easy on your elbows. The nice thing about sport climbing is that you can back off at any time. Fear and danger won't force you to do something that isn't good for your body. (Ego and pride may)


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By Kevin Stricker
From Evergreen, CO
Jan 28, 2008

I agree that resting is key! When I first started climbing I climbed way too much because I was so psyched. Now that I am in my 30's I find that I only get stronger when I climb fewer than 4 days a week. Currently 4 days a week is pure fantasy...I am psyched for a single good one! I think trad climbing is easier on my elbows because I spend more time over my feet. Also I am a big fighter, and am still learning to let go on harder routes.

So I am curious if you periodize your training and what that looks like for you. Also do you only rest one day after fingerboard workouts and how often do you work on the board.

Great story on Scarface...way to keep with it over the long haul and finally send! How many total burns do you think you did on the route?


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jan 28, 2008
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

I would guess around 25 burns, if you count the rope soloing, which was kinda worthless, except to help me understand what I needed to do to reach that level.

Anyway, I do periodize my training. I do 3 cycles per year, each cycle has 6 phases:

1. Local endurance (ARC from PRC) ~1-3 weeks
2. Hypertrophy (via hangboard workouts) ~4 weeks
3. Recruitment/Power (via bouldering & campusing) ~2-4 weeks
4. Power Endurance ~2-4 weeks
5. Peak Performance ~4-6 weeks
6. Rest ~1-3 weeks

I started out doing pretty much exactly what PRC recommends, but its morphed a bit over the years. Usually my PE training consists of just trying to redpoint projects, so there isn't much difference between #4 & #5. I've experimented with 4x4s in this phase, and found them to be very effective, but they seem to bring on a severe crash after the peak (like comming off a sugar high), so I don't plan to use them again unless I have a specific objective in mind that requires 100% of my PE capacity (which Scarface did).

During the hypertrophy phase I will do 7-9 hangboard workouts, each with ~72 hours of rest after. So I would do HB workouts on day 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25. My first power workout would be on day 28. Mike does this differently. He mixes in climbing days during his hangboarding phase in order to take max advantage of the weekends. I don't do any other climbing activities during this phase except warmup (by traversing around the gym for 15 minutes) prior to HB workouts. On the two rest days I do some form of cardio exercise (running, swimming, or cycling).

I agree with your theory about being on your feet when trad climbing. I had serious elbow problems several years ago, then I changed my climbing focus from overhanging jugfests to vertical technical routes, and the pain vanished. I also cut back on campusing and stopped lifting weights (dumbbell curls, dips, pullups, etc) so its hard to be sure which factor did the trick.


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