One month to train for Indian Creek 5.12 – advice?


Original Post
Michael Hasson · · Sausalito, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Hey MP,

Just got back from the first long weekend at the Creek this season and got a little bit more spanked than I would've hoped. I'm at a point where I'm fairly consistently onsighting up to low-mid 11s and I've sent a couple softer .12s (Sig Sauer, Dos Hermanos) and led/felt fairly close on quite a few more. At this point, though, I'm feeling a little frustrated with backwards progress. A route that I one-hung last trip (International Affair) spat me off at least three or four times the other day. Hopefully this gives people an idea of where I'm at – does anyone have any tips for working finger crack power/endurance? At this point, my thought is to start campusing more, train one-arm lockoffs a bit more specifically (for footless finger cracks), ARC a couple days a week, and ramp up core work a bit. I'm probably also going to run laps on a thin hands trainer as well so that my thumbs hopefully still work at the top of a pitch of big/small hands.

Some of my goal routes are Swedin-Ringle, Disco Machine Gun, Extra Lean, Johnny Cat, Flight Time, International Affair, Middle Crack, and eventually some harder stuff like Cat Burglar, Digital Readout and Ruby's. Anyone have ideas of things I'm missing? Other things to do to prep for hard cracks? I'll be out there for four days in a month and then probably about a week around Thanksgiving so I've got a couple month-long training periods to cut down the flailing a little bit. Also, I'm not limiting myself to just fingers, those just seem to be some of the lines that get me most psyched at the moment...I'd love any advice on training or other must-do cracks!

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

Re: Campusing

I see what you're getting at with including campusing, based on the bad feet on IC finger cracks, but I don't think that campus board work is neccesarily the right choice here. A typical workout on the campus board (max ladders, bumps, etc) emphasizes explosive power for a short number of dynamic moves. Not really what you need for the Creek. None of those routes have that sort of explosive crux, and the duration of the cruxes is a lot longer than what you'll be doing foot-off on the campus board.

Probably more useful than the campus board would be something like lock-off laps on a systems board, treadwall, etc. Think a slightly overhanging board, OK holds, deep static lockoffs, and the worst footholds on the board (i.e. wear pointy shoes and stand in bolt holes). On each move, hover the reaching hand over the next hold for a 5-count before grabbing it. This will train the more static lockoffs encountered on IC finger cracks, and will also engage your core for transferring pressure down into bad footholds. Aim for longer sets than what you would do on a campus board; around 15 moves is probably a good start, and reflects the length you often have to climb between rests (a good foothold, a hand jam, etc) on some of those routes. So if your wall is around 5 moves tall, three consecutive laps, dropping off in between, would work out pretty well. You could also do a similar excercise on a campus board, but doing foot-on campusing with deep static locks.

Anyway, otherwise the plan looks good. Lock-off laps, ARCing, laps on whatever cracks (gym or outside) you have access to, and some supporting strength work (core, should stability, and some supplemental pull/lock work (offset pull ups are good). Make sure to include some "normal" climbing and bouldering too.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

Other notes:

Check your shoe situation. Are you wearing optimal shoes for IC thin cracks? I found that on the easier stuff at IC you can get away with non-optimal shoes, but once you step it up to the sustained 5.12 thin cracks you really need things to be ideal. This usually means Moccs, but not always. On a few of those routes the crack is too thin for feet and there are just enough face features that it is sometimes better to give up on jamming your feet and wear a stiff, tight edging shoe with a pointy toe (like a Miura or Katana Lace). An example would be Cat Burglar; on that one I found I had better luck edging on the little calcite features that trying to rand smear the finger crack.

For a fun (and gentler) warm up to IC finger cracks, check out Puma.

Michael Hasson · · Sausalito, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Awesome, thanks for such a thorough reply. What you're saying totally makes sense and I'll probably do that instead of the regular campus boarding. 

The shoe game is something I've been trying to figure out for a while. My go-to for anything smeary/thin are Moccs and I just went up a half size to see if that might help fit them into even smaller things which (I think?) works a little better but definitely sacrifices edging. How do you size yours? With my previous pair, my knuckles were a little curled and the new pair are pretty much totally flat so that if I curl my toes there's some dead space in the toe box. Good to know for Cat Burglar though, I'll try to remember that if I ever sack up enough for it haha. I just got on Puma a couple days ago! I was dumb and placed in a lock at the very top but yeah, fun climb and a lot less painful than some of the more campusy finger cracks I've been on. 

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

Sounds like you are doing it right with regard to Mocs. 

evan h · · Denver, CO · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 310

Michael, are you sure your spanking is the result of physical inadequacies and not just dusting off the crack-skills cobwebs after months away from it? 

5.samadhi · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 40

Has your bodyweight changed? All things equal bodyweight was the key component for me to be able to onsight some of the harder cracks I've done!

Michael Hasson · · Sausalito, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Evan – yeah, I'm sure that has something to do with it but I figure that doing some specific strength training will probably help dust things off a little quicker. If technique and strength come together maybe good things will happen? Who knows though haha. 

As for bodyweight, no discernible change but I honestly don't monitor that very closely. I'm pretty skinny as it is (6' and 155) so I'm sort of thinking about trying to gain a little bit of muscle mass.

5.samadhi · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 40

oh yeah man your BW is low! Damn I am the same weight except I am 5'7" :D 

 I actually like your idea of campusing....except I wouldn't try to campus for power obviously since you're projecting at the creek. You can work a campus board for power endurance/hypertrophy....this involves ladders and adding weight and working in the 10-15 rep range (up-up-up-up-down-down-up-up, etc). It works VERY good for adding muscle mass.

5.samadhi · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 40

the adding muscle mass is a longterm thing though....even in a really nice caloric surplus you are not going to add any appreciable muscle mass in 1 month. Maybe .5-1lb if you are lucky.

Addem Bursh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 845

Great thread.


Also, 5.samadhi is back!  Forgot all about that guy(?)!

Will S · · Joshua Tree · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,053

For Digital Readout, the training is simple:

Go out to the gym parking lot, have a friend run over your fingers 10 or 12 times in a row with their car, then run back inside and bust out back to back laps of 2-fingered ladders on the campus board. Do 4 rounds of this, for time. 

Michael Hasson · · Sausalito, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Yeah definitely a longer term thing, I guess I'm sort of trying to figure out what I can do in the short term as well as what I should start now for longer term goals if that makes sense. Do you try to isolate back/shoulders by using bigger rungs or stick with small ones? 

Will - I'm thinking a vise might be a little more portable? Same general idea though

5.samadhi · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 40
Addem Bursh wrote:

Great thread.


Also, 5.samadhi is back!  Forgot all about that guy(?)!

what did you forget about me lol!? I am still here in NC developing/opening up roof caves and bouldering with my dogs. Stopped BASE jumping though :)

5.samadhi · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 40
Michael Hasson wrote:

Yeah definitely a longer term thing, I guess I'm sort of trying to figure out what I can do in the short term as well as what I should start now for longer term goals if that makes sense. Do you try to isolate back/shoulders by using bigger rungs or stick with small ones? 

Will - I'm thinking a vise might be a little more portable? Same general idea though

when I have done campus board for PE I definitely stick to the bigger rungs....this takes fingers so much out of the equation.....all you care is that the prime moves in upper body (pecs, lats, biceps) are being activated. Then supplement with weight lifting if you really want to add mass (BB rows, rack pulls, BB OH press, BB curls).

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,045

JCM's advice is spot on (like usual).  i don't think campusing for power will really help much as you don't typically make fast dynamic movements on this kind of climbing.  the one arm lockoff type of stuff will be a lot more useful.

footwear will also be a big consideration for these routes.  cat burglar - definitely an edging shoe.  swedin-ringle - definitely a chiseled toe.  etc.

Addem Bursh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 845
5.samadhi wrote:

what did you forget about me lol!? I am still here in NC developing/opening up roof caves and bouldering with my dogs. Stopped BASE jumping though :)

I just remember you being a bit of a jackass, but it sounds like maybe you cleaned up your act.  Keep up the good work.

John L · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 173
slim wrote:

JCM's advice is spot on (like usual).  i don't think campusing for power will really help much as you don't typically make fast dynamic movements on this kind of climbing.  the one arm lockoff type of stuff will be a lot more useful.

footwear will also be a big consideration for these routes.  cat burglar - definitely an edging shoe.  swedin-ringle - definitely a chiseled toe.  etc.

What do you mean by chiseled toe? Or can you point me to an example shoe that has a chiseled toe? I have similar goals as to the OPs but I have no clue what sort of shoe to use. I've had some luck with Miuras.. but I've mainly tried finger cracks at Vedauwoo. 

Michael Hasson · · Sausalito, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
John Lombardi wrote:

What do you mean by chiseled toe? Or can you point me to an example shoe that has a chiseled toe? I have similar goals as to the OPs but I have no clue what sort of shoe to use. I've had some luck with Miuras.. but I've mainly tried finger cracks at Vedauwoo. 

I think (might be wrong) he means something with a really narrow profile in the toebox. TC Pros, for instance, are super chunky and cramming them into a 1s crack could be tough, whereas with Moccs, you can get decent toe jams in .75s/baggy .5s. 

John L · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 173
Michael Hasson wrote:

I think (might be wrong) he means something with a really narrow profile in the toebox. TC Pros, for instance, are super chunky and cramming them into a 1s crack could be tough, whereas with Moccs, you can get decent toe jams in .75s/baggy .5s. 

Thanks. I wish there was a lace up version of the moccasym - if anyone could point me to an equivalent finger crack shoe lace up (I've got weird feet) that would be sweet.

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,045

yep, something with a super thin toe - mocs, katana velcros, etc,  sized so you can keep your toes flat.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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