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Progressing from 5.9 to 5.10 at the Gunks


Original Post
Bob Johnson · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined May 2014 · Points: 98

This season I broke into leading 5.9 at the Gunks. My main concern has been safety and not getting in over my head. I've started with the easier/well-protected 9s such as Ant's Line, Bonnie's Roof, No Glow, The Spring, Directissima, Sente, Absurdland (maybe not a 9 in some books, but whatever).

I've also set up topropes on some Gunks 10s like Nosedive, Welcome to the Gunks, The Winter and followed some other 10s. In general, I found the 10s to be quite a jump in difficulty. I certainly have some work to do before I'm climbing efficiently at that level.

So, I am interested to know what advice you all have for progressing up to 5.10 Gunks leading/climbing. Did you end up following or toproping a bunch of 10s, learning the moves and gear and then leading those specific routes? Or did you just jump in?

What would be some good mid-range 9s for me to lead next?

sara pax · · western mass · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 208

Isn't Winter 10d? That's quite a jump from 5.9. Maybe start with the 10a's first. Simple Stuff is around there. If I recall, it's well protected, but maybe a bit exciting. Last Frontier is also an easy 10, if you can jam.

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,470

MF

SethG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 252

In days of yore we would discuss these things on Gunks.com. I actually started a long thread on 5.9 that has much advice on this topic.

Right now there is some sort of problem with Gunks.com. I found two threads, one on 5.9 and one on 5.10, both of which I think you would enjoy reading. But the site won't display the threads. I found some archived copies of the threads, however, on a site called "floorleveldesign," and here are the links.

The easiest 5.10

Breaking into 5.9

Bob Johnson · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined May 2014 · Points: 98
sara pax wrote:Isn't Winter 10d? That's quite a jump from 5.9. Maybe start with the 10a's first. Simple Stuff is around there. If I recall, it's well protected, but maybe a bit exciting. Last Frontier is also an easy 10, if you can jam.
Yeah, although I had a better time on The Winter than on following P38 and Stirrup Trouble. I think the styles of the latter two aren't my strengths.

How is Insuhlation as a good mid-range 9?
wonderwoman · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 84

Start with the G rated climbs.

Connor F-M · · Lafayette, CO · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 45

I'll second MF and would add Le Teton, Keep on Struttin', and Obstacle Delusion to your list of more challenging 9s. Simple Suff is good, but you need to be careful getting off the ledge. Sara is likely much better at crack climbing than I am, but I thought the Last Frontier was way burly even with jamming. For transitioning into 5.10, I just kind of waited until I realized I felt pretty solid most of the 9s I tried and then went right for leading the better protected 10s, but plenty of people also go back to climbs they have already toproped or sussed out. Wegetables, Never Never Land, and P-38 are all very well protected aside from their bouldery starts, but that is pretty commonplace at the Gunks I feel like. Have fun!

Connor F-M · · Lafayette, CO · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 45
Bob Johnson wrote: Yeah, although I had a better time on The Winter than on following P38 and Stirrup Trouble. I think the styles of the latter two aren't my strengths. How is Insuhlation as a good mid-range 9?
Insuhlation is a great mid-range 9 I think.
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
SethG wrote:Right now there is some sort of problem with Gunks.com. I found two threads, one on 5.9 and one on 5.10, both of which I think you would enjoy reading. But the site won't display the threads.
Gunks.com is defunct. It hasn't been maintained in over 6 years, maybe more, and was left to wither and die by the site owner.
SethG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 252

Personally I was of the "just jump in" school-- but I didn't try to lead the tens with so few nines under my belt. If I were you I'd work through a bunch more nines and then start working into the tens.

I'm sure that if you work the tens on TR, on the other hand, you will find it to be an effective way to move up faster, but you'll lose the fun of discovering the routes on-sight.

Great nines to do in preparation for the tens are the harder or more mentally challenging ones. If you do Le Teton or Keep on Struttin' or Grim-Ace Face P3 or Up In Arms and they feel like no big deal, well, those routes are harder than some of the tens.

A different subject: great nines you haven't done yet. There are many. These are just a few off the top of my head.

MF (not an easy 9 but gear right where you want it).
Insuhlation is a great nine although I managed to break my ankle on it.
Obstacle Delusion is another great one-- one crucial hard move with a small nut or cam placement.
Roseland-- everyone complains that it is polished but it is a great climb with great gear.
Art's Route-- two good cruxes, great gear.
Apoplexy-- great gear for the crux. Be careful at the suspect flake.
Grand Central-- steep face climbing with some small nuts for gear.

As for the best tens to break in with, I think the shorter the crux is and the better the gear is, then the easier it is to lead. So even if the move is hard, it doesn't matter so long as you can put yourself in position for a worry-free fall. With this in mind, I suggest:

Retribution-- one sequence with great gear
Nosedive-- several cruxes but all of them are well protected with rests in between.
City Streets-- one move wonder at a pin.
P1 of Splashtic-- one sequence with good gear.
Balrog-- hard move for 10b but the gear is awesome and the fall is into the air.

Wegetables (mentioned above) is problematic right off the deck (bad nuts in a seam) but if you work through that the crux climbing above has great great gear. The Winter, P38, and Stirrup Trouble are all tough, in your face tens. I wouldn't start with those. Simple Suff is continuous and taxing, I've never understood why people think it is an "easy" ten.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,745

Folks have different approaches to breaking into a new grade. And as you've noticed, breaking into the 10s at the Gunks is a bit of a big deal. Some folks just start onsighting the easier 10s once they've had sufficient good experience on tough 9s (SethG offers great advice for this). Sometimes this goes well, sometimes it doesn't: a friend of mine was happy "falling his way" up through the grades, and that was OK for him (til he got hurt). I seemed to prefer a more conservative approach, tackling 10s only when I was pretty sure I'd get them without a fall (my problem, you see, is that I don't like to fall). Yes, I got nearly everything clean, including those 10s that I had never been on before. The downside to my approach is that I never got used to pushing hard at my limit i.e. taking the fall, and my 5.10 onsights were fewer in number than they would have been had I not been so conservative.

Anyway - here's another side of it. You MIGHT want to spend some quality time TOPROPING (there, I said it) 5.10s. This is great training for the body, of course. But it strengthens the mind in a way as well. No, of course it doesn't build up your lead head. In fact it might undo any mental fortitude you have. But I find that getting a few dozen varied 10 cruxes under your belt has a way of developing a fundamental, subconscious belief that "I can do this". That goes a long way to keeping your head from exploding when things get real on the sharp end. Kinda like TR'ing a bunch of vertical ice when you're moving up from leading grade 4s. But that's a discussion for another season. If the idea of banging out "10 10s in a day" sounds good, Peterskill is the place to go. No spoiling your "saving it for an onsight" routes at the Trapps/Nears, and there are nearly 50 5.10s over there with mostly dead-easy anchor situations.

Dana Bartlett · · CT · Joined Nov 2003 · Points: 890

P-Kill also has some 5.10s that are well protected and reasonable for the grade.

chris_vultaggio · · The Gunks · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 485

Start climbing more regular with someone who leads 10s confidently - you'll not only have the chance to climb more in the grade, you can pick up tricks for working with gear - small wires etc. it'll also get you more comfortable with cleaning in more strenuous positions, which translates into placing gear in those same spots.

I'd second the suggestions for wegetables, simple suff, and throw in Feast of Fools (p1).

9s to get on if you haven't: pink laurel, double clutch, higher stannard (a bit spaced on gear but good 10 prep and not super hard for the grade), apoplexy, le Teton, and definitely keep on struttin.

Also, teeny face and star action protect well for 10s, and while harder Tulip Mussel Garden let's you protect the crux move at your face. Lost city crack is a good entry 10 that you can plug up (except for the easy chimney) with gear, as are Last Frontier and Sonja. Yeah those last ones are all cracks - but cracks protect well.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

Forget about all that climbing stuff. Work the Boxcar Boulder traverse until you can at least go across and back, starting at the right end, which leaves you with the hardest part for the last couple of moves on the return trip. I predict the tens will feel a whole lot easier then.

Unlike many other boulder problems, the BBT is just tiring ordinary climbing...very near the ground.

Michael Schneider · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 755

Both of these posts point in the same direction:

Gunkiemike wrote:Folks have different approaches to breaking into a new grade. And as you've noticed, breaking into the 10s at the Gunks is a bit of a big deal. Some folks just start onsighting the easier 10s once they've had sufficient good experience on tough 9s (SethG offers great advice for this). Sometimes this goes well, sometimes it doesn't: a friend of mine was happy "falling his way" up through the grades, and that was OK for him (til he got hurt). I seemed to prefer a more conservative approach, tackling 10s only when I was pretty sure I'd get them without a fall (my problem, you see, is that I don't like to fall). Yes, I got nearly everything clean, including those 10s that I had never been on before. The downside to my approach is that I never got used to pushing hard at my limit i.e. taking the fall, and my 5.10 onsights were fewer in number than they would have been had I not been so conservative. Anyway - here's another side of it. You MIGHT want to spend some quality time TOPROPING (there, I said it) 5.10s. This is great training for the body, of course. But it strengthens the mind in a way as well. No, of course it doesn't build up your lead head. In fact it might undo any mental fortitude you have. But I find that getting a few dozen varied 10 cruxes under your belt has a way of developing a fundamental, subconscious belief that "I can do this". That goes a long way to keeping your head from exploding when things get real on the sharp end. Kinda like TR'ing a bunch of vertical ice when you're moving up from leading grade 4s. But that's a discussion for another season. If the idea of banging out "10 10s in a day" sounds good, Peterskill is the place to go. No spoiling your "saving it for an onsight" routes at the Trapps/Nears, and there are nearly 50 5.10s over there with mostly dead-easy anchor situations.
AND
rgold wrote:Forget about all that climbing stuff. Work the Boxcar Boulder traverse until you can at least go across and back, starting at the right end, which leaves you with the hardest part for the last couple of moves on the return trip. I predict the tens will feel a whole lot easier then. Unlike many other boulder problems, the BBT is just tiring ordinary climbing...very near the ground.
I think along the same lines, spend as much time climbing getting in milage. Climb lots of new (to you) routes. Don't concentrate so much on the number. Get smooth and gain stamina.

Especially at the Gunks you can find climbing that is challenging on easier climbs.
Link-ups of easy routes. or crossing diagonally to incorporate three cruxes in one pitch.
There are "variations" and climbs that continue past the 1st pitch,
whole climbs that at least are not popular.( some not recorded )

Then too, to add. ( without looking up numbers, )

Erect Direction, is by far the best

but also good - in the Nears, Disney Point,
The Hounds, Sissy boys, Hot Climb, Ground Control (& Yellow Belly,?)
Woolly Clam Taco?( there is a line immediately on the right, (outside) of Grease Gun Groove ?)
(Back@the Traps
The Glyptidon climbs? Where Fools Rush In? On Any Monday, . . . .?? Then the Direct's:
Thin Slabs Direct, Bonnie's Direct, Modern Times Direct,( steep white Cap-stone )CCK Direct,(hand jam overhang) and Obstacle Delusion Direct ( sweet finger crack )
Again off the top of my head, there are two or three 'climbs' one between or above to the ?right of Credibility Gap?
The other - the 'leaning the wrong way' Face to the left of the large corner, left of High Time/Wild Horses....( High E The Hard Way, start the top pitch on the steep side ) YMMV. .?
It is often NOT following the Chalk trail that is challenging.
Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 650

One move easy 5.10s: Dismantle, Datmantle, City Streets, Hang Ten.

Bob Johnson · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined May 2014 · Points: 98

Awesome. Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Didn't think about the Boxcar traverse. Ouchies!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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