Route Memorization


Original Post
Jplotz · · Wenatchee, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 485

While out climbing today at a favorite crag, on routes I've done many times before, I did some reflecting. I love memorizing climbs. Almost from the outset, I can remember the moves. Each little foot and hand hold sticks in my head. Once I've done the pitch a few times, I forever have the moves, and the gear committed to memory.

I played a lot of piano growing up, rehearsing for hours on end the same pieces until they were imprinted for good. Once I quit piano and replaced it with sports, namely basketball, I rehearsed (practiced) for countless hours on my shot and free throws, committing to a routine I would do every time, with good results (ahem, career 90% free throw shooter).

My point is I have met other climbers who also remember every single move and gear of most the pitches they've done. But I've met more climbers who can't remember a single move on a pitch they've done repeatedly, nor the gear they used. They're lucky if they remember the name of the pitch. But when I watch them climb, they climb it exactly as they always have!

Why is it some people are able to memorize pitches, while others it feels like an onsight each time they repeat a route? Where do you fall on the spectrum?

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55

To echo Sherman, you have to ruthlessly wire something in before sandbagging it to your partners, no? That's much work to get it dialed in tends to build muscle memory :D

patto · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 0

I can't do memory stuff. My mind just isn't wired that. Sure I have a bunch of knowledge and facts. But ask me to actually memorise something and I fail.

I don't remember moves on climbs and I have no desire to.

(Similarly as discussed elsewhere on Mountain Project. I don't work off memorisation of checklists to keep me safe.)

Kees · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

Usually I can remember the crux of an interesting climb in detail. Not much else. And for sure no route names!

So I guess I am somewhere in between.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,399

Am somewhere in between too.

Multi-pitch trad is my main venue. And I am not one with a so called "photographic" memory.

I remember routes from over the years, the way they "go". Generally the same for the approaches and descents.

I'd guess the above is so because I tend to invest a lot of time preparing to do an unknown-to-me route, and I greatly enjoy being on the sharp end with route finding puzzles.

The moves on any pitch - maybe not so much. I can usually remember the crux moves, especially if I botch them. :-) The gear placements are lost to time in general unless, again, I botched something or was missing something I really wanted at the moment.

Seems a good correlation between long-term memory and either motivation to spend time "rehearsing" (mentally or physically) and / or stress. ... except for those with an always-on photographic memory.

don'tchuffonme · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 0

I remember the crux moves and the gear that protects those moves on routes that are at my limit for quite a long time. Apparently I can't remember a conversation for more than three minutes though.

Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,040

I forgot what i was going to say

Benjamin Chapman · · Small Town, USA · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 12,847

Don't you just love those senior (grey) moments, Muscrat? Jplotz...As you get older you'll be doing more "grey points" on routes you once had memorized, but will feel like onsights. Enjoy the clarity and mental acuity while you can.

Daniel Joder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

Ben, in our circle we call them "Alzheimer's onsights".

Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,040
Daniel Joder wrote:Ben, in our circle we call them "Alzheimer's onsights".
Brillant!
We were just talking about this very thing. I just re-climbed the first route i ever bolted, all of 3 or 4 years ago (i don't remember) and had a hard time remembering the beta!
HA!
Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 0
Jplotz wrote:While out climbing today at a favorite crag, on routes I've done many times before, I did some reflecting. I love memorizing climbs. Almost from the outset, I can remember the moves. Each little foot and hand hold sticks in my head. Once I've done the pitch a few times, I forever have the moves, and the gear committed to memory. I played a lot of piano growing up, rehearsing for hours on end the same pieces until they were imprinted for good. Once I quit piano and replaced it with sports, namely basketball, I rehearsed (practiced) for countless hours on my shot and free throws, committing to a routine I would do every time, with good results (ahem, career 90% free throw shooter). My point is I have met other climbers who also remember every single move and gear of most the pitches they've done. But I've met more climbers who can't remember a single move on a pitch they've done repeatedly, nor the gear they used. They're lucky if they remember the name of the pitch. But when I watch them climb, they climb it exactly as they always have! Why is it some people are able to memorize pitches, while others it feels like an onsight each time they repeat a route? Where do you fall on the spectrum?
climbing friend,

they are smoking of the kind dope and having the dreadlock and cannot remember their movings.

all their flash are belong to me.
Jon Nelson · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 4,500
Jplotz wrote: Why is it some people are able to memorize pitches, while others it feels like an onsight each time they repeat a route? Where do you fall on the spectrum?
In my case, I could memorize routes, but have become too mentally lazy to do so. As a result, I sometimes go up to a crux, and forget how I tried it even moments ago. But I don't think this is an inherent memory issue, just a desire to not overthink my climbing and just try and enjoy the motions.

As you related in your case, it probably comes from habits I developed while much younger.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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