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Tips for "reading" a route

Original Post
Nick Thomas · · Fargo, ND · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 30

I've been climbing a couple times a week at my school's gym this semester after getting into climbing this summer, and next weekend I'll be doing my first competition (sport, top rope). I've recently started getting some redpoints in the 5.10c-d range, so I signed up for the 5.9-5.10c division. I still have trouble with being able to find the right sequences quickly on most routes around that grade though - it's just hard for me to visualize and I usually work on a route for a few days before I can send it. I'll only get 5 chances in the comp, what are some guidelines for reading a route for a better attempt my first try or two?

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 296

Look for feet!

(I often forget this)

Erik Keever · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 245

Quite often, I find that if reading a route forward causes confusion, starting at the next obvious stance after the strange section and going backwards, "How would I have to be right before I got there?", to be immensely valuable.

Don't just look at the hands. If you plan to move your right hand up, look where you'll put your right foot to pivot up on and your left to push off with, & vice versa. This eventually becomes second nature, but all the time I watch new climbers set their left hand, left foot, swing themselves in and up for the next hold, and have to stop a hard barndoor if they land it...

This has nothing to do with reading routes, but before you step onto the wall, take a moment to un-psyche yourself. Whatever. No1curr. If I'm climbing a route that I can't easily do, expectations/psyching up/"Oh god, this time, this time!!!" just leads to fear of committing to the move for fear of falling, which more often than not precipitates falling.

One week isn't much lead time, but - identify what kind of route you like and can read naturally, and climb the opposite this week.

Hope some of this is at least a little helpful!

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 125

One issue at a lot of gyms is that there are too many holds that you can't use, and many times it is tough to see what is on route, and what is off route. Hopefully with the comp, there will be fewer holds around the route, and maybe just the route in isolation, so you will have a better idea of what is on and off.

Beyond this, which will make reading easier, go slow. Plan your moves. If you watch pros, they look at the route and pantomime the moves on the ground. You don't have to do that, and you probably can't keep the whole route in your head, so break it into sections. when you get to a rest, rest and plan out your next series of moves until you get to another rest. As you climb past a hold, think about how you are going to use it for your feet. If you see a foot chip, remember that it is there for you to use. Look at your feet. Also, I doubt you guys are going to be in isolation, you can watch other people do the route.

When climbing, climb until you fall. Maybe you fall on a tenuous move, maybe you pull it off and then get to a jugggy rest. That said, if you are 1/2 way up a route and can't figure out the next 3 moves, it is OK to bail. Don't burn all your energy paralyzed on a route because you don't know how to move up, but don't want to lose the attempt. Bail, regroup from the ground, shake off the pump and try again.

jmmlol · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0

Hold direction can be a big hint. At that level nothing should be ridiculously tweaked out, so if you look at a hold and think it's an upside down gaston it's probably not. At higher grades it might be because the routesetter thinks they're being clever though. Most holds are turned for each hand to grab in a mostly ergonomic way.

Victor K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 165

The advice above is all good. As far as the comp goes, just chill out and have fun. Being mentally relaxed will help more than anything. It's probably too late for improvement.
Climbing 10s can be accomplished by simply getting stronger, particularly in the gym. However, c's and d's can present actual movement puzzles. That's probably why the redpoints are occasional. Reading routes effectively is closely linked to your own vocabulary of movement. If you get some movement coaching, or at least read about it, you'll see terms like "drop knee", "rock over", "back step", etc. If your gym has a training area, practice these specific moves until you understand how each one solves a movement puzzle. Then (after lots of practice) when you are looking at a route from the ground, you'll be able match techniques to different hold configurations.
Lastly, you should access your own abilities regarding balance, flexibility, and kinesthetic awareness. Yoga might be a great complementary activity.

Nick Thomas · · Fargo, ND · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 30

Thanks guys. This is all very helpful. I will definitely have fun regardless of place!

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

if you are finding of yourself in trouble during reading of sequence, just do cut the feet and campus upwards thrusting up on your hulking, massive, guns with many veins they are in contrast with the bulging round arm, back, and neck meat.

do not forget the uberklingën grip of power.

do not be afraid.

just follow your heart. That's what I do.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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