Mountain Project Logo

Gym climbing kicked my azz


Original Post
Eric Castanza · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

I tried gym climbing for the first time yesterday and Ibfeel like I was hit by a truck today lol. For me gym climbing seemed much more difficult then outdoor climbing.

I did find gym climbing to be fun as hell and can't wait to go again, but it seemed a lot move arm intensive and challenging. I was getting pumped and struggling on route grades much lower then the outdoor grades I frequently climb.

I also found that the mass number of holds was a little confusing at first and I felt lost on the wall, but after a few climbs the large variety of hold types started to get fun. I enjoyed the funky jugs and slopers. 

Here is my question. Do any of you outdoor climbers find gym climbing way more difficult then outdoors? 


 

Nick Niebuhr · · Santa Fe, NM · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 465

I've only ever really bouldered in a gym but I find that bouldering grades have always been easier inside than outside for me. I figure that's because I can see all the holds and maybe the beta is a usually bit more straightforward. Could be your climbing style strengths and weaknesses... There's a lot more steep climbing in the gym and depending on where you're climbing outside there can be more low angle routes outside

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 350
Eric Castanza wrote:

I tried gym climbing for the first time yesterday and Ibfeel like I was hit by a truck today lol. For me gym climbing seemed much more difficult then outdoor climbing.

I did find gym climbing to be fun as hell and can't wait to go again, but it seemed a lot move arm intensive and challenging. I was getting pumped and struggling on route grades much lower then the outdoor grades I frequently climb.

I also found that the mass number of holds was a little confusing at first and I felt lost on the wall, but after a few climbs the large variety of hold types started to get fun. I enjoyed the funky jugs and slopers. 

Here is my question. Do any of you outdoor climbers find gym climbing way more difficult then outdoors? 


 

Yes and no, lol! I will say, on roped routes .10 or under, if you're blowing your arms, you've missed something on the route, in terms of footwork.

I'm 4' 11", so "easy" gym routes still can be reachy. But, I'm smaller and lighter, and small hands can get two handed pulls off of one handed jugs. Full disclosure: I've set routes, and can guess what a hold or series is meant to do. And, I often ignore the set routes and climb what I find interesting.

Outside is far more fun, but not at 17°. Guess that's why they invented "screaming barfies"....sigh.

At my age, if I'm not sore, please check my pulse.

Best, OLH

wendy weiss · · boulder, co · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 10

I think it depends on the gym and on where outdoors you've been climbing. But if you climb indoors frequently, you'll get used to the holds and combinations and develop strategies and skills to deal with them. At least that's been my experience. And gym climbing certainly improved my performance on real rock. 

ViperScale . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

Depends...

Gyms you are stuck using the holds they give you where as being outdoors you can use worst holds that are closer together to avoid doing stupid big moves. Also depending on your gym sometimes they like to make a 50ft climb all 5.whatever holds with no breaks. Outdoors you rarely have 100% sustains climbing and alot of hard routes are 1-2 hard at grade moves and a ton of ladder moves in between. One of my gym project 5.13 routes is all 5.12+ moves with two crux 5.13+ moves.

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 77

It seems weird to me to say that gym climbing OR outdoor climbing is harder. Climbing is as hard as you attempt in either case. I climb harder indoors because the protection is better.

That said, the grades tend to be softer indoors IMHO, especially at lower grades.

Maxime Jacques · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 1

They are both their own entities. Yes the movement can be similar, but the tactics used during both can differ a lot. Similarly when going to a new climbing area. Say you usually climb in the new, and you head to the obed. Yes the roofs will spank you, but after a couple weeks, you'll have learnt how to move through them efficiently, and you'll wonder why you ever struggled on them

Logan Anderson · · Central ND · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 155

I’ve always found the gym to be harder, even my basement bouldering wall, harder than outside climbs. I can go for hours on end outside, but put me in a gym and I’m pumped in 50 minutes.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

I find my legs get sore from climbing outside. My arms and hands get sore from climbing at the gym.

Brian Malone · · Olney, Maryland · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 3,620

Outside a climb or problem is rated by its most difficult move.  Indoors the moves can intentionally be set to be very consistent along the entire route. 

Outside that 5.9 might really only have one 5.9 move and the rest lower (often times substantially lower) . Inside a 5.9 might have consistent 5.9 moves all the way up the wall.

C Archibolt · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 871

I’ve always climbed harder outside. For example this year, I had a “training project” in the gym that mirrored my outdoor project and was the same grade. I sent the outside project, but never the indoor training project. 

For me I think it comes down to two things:

1. Inside there are no rests. It’s all fitness, and you don’t have a chance to get it back once you leave the floor.

2. I care way less inside than out. 

Eric Castanza · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0
Bill Kirby wrote:

I find my legs get sore from climbing outside. My arms and hands get sore from climbing at the gym.

Exactly what I found. 

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 77
Creed Archibald wrote:

1. Inside there are no rests. It’s all fitness, and you don’t have a chance to get it back once you leave the floor.

I guess this makes sense in that the grade of indoor routes tends to be more consistent throughout the climb, but it's mitigated by two factors:

  1. It's very setter-dependent. For example I climbed a very fun 5.11a route at the gym the other day which was basically a stemming boulder problem, then a rest, then a roof boulder problem, then a rest, then a delicate face climbing boulder problem. Part of the skill of the route was finding the rests and taking them--I don't think I could have done it if I just tried to blast straight through. If all your indoor climbs get their difficulty just from the extended pump, I'd say the setting at your gym could use more variety.
  2. I don't know about your gym compared to your crag, but where I climb, even the tallest gym walls are shorter than my crag.
Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 135

I have yet to find a gym that rates climbs harder than outdoor areas, but I could see that gym climbs could be harder at lower grades.  

For folks that start in the gym and transition outside, I tell that that the difference is that gym holds are bigger and easier to find, but outside, they are everywhere.  If you are climbing easier grades outside, there are tons of holds and generally you are on low angle routes, so it is very natural to use your feet.  Indoors, especially if you are on steep routes, beginnin climbers rely too much on their hands and don't trust their feet.

Keep in mid, every gym is different.  My gym is large, so they have room to spread out climbs and dedicate one color hold per route.  Samller gyms need to pack in more routes, so they frequently use tape to designate which holds are on which climbs, so not only are there tons of holds in your sights, but it can be more difficult to figure out which ones are on for you and which ones are off.  Of course, outside, everything is on except for on occasional routes.

C Archibolt · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 871
David Kerkeslager wrote:

I guess this makes sense in that the grade of indoor routes tends to be more consistent throughout the climb, but it's mitigated by two factors:

  1. It's very setter-dependent. For example I climbed a very fun 5.11a route at the gym the other day which was basically a stemming boulder problem, then a rest, then a roof boulder problem, then a rest, then a delicate face climbing boulder problem. Part of the skill of the route was finding the rests and taking them--I don't think I could have done it if I just tried to blast straight through. If all your indoor climbs get their difficulty just from the extended pump, I'd say the setting at your gym could use more variety.
  2. I don't know about your gym compared to your crag, but where I climb, even the tallest gym walls are shorter than my crag.

Outside, I mostly trad climb and boulder. Even on 5.11 trad routes, I can often cop a knee jam or stem into a pretty bomber rest. On a sea of overhanging jugs (my gym), I just never recover much during a route. 

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

climbing friend,

yes it is harder (that is what she would be saying ho ho ha ha!)

physically at least it tis harder, not for the development your route reading or "technique" - but with the very steep boards myah and no rests, no, your puny arms they be quite pumped! 

do not look on the grades too hard, they may often be quite off

Noah Yetter · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 105
Matt Himmelstein wrote:

For folks that start in the gym and transition outside, I tell that that the difference is that gym holds are bigger and easier to find, but outside, they are everywhere.  If you are climbing easier grades outside, there are tons of holds and generally you are on low angle routes, so it is very natural to use your feet.  Indoors, especially if you are on steep routes, beginnin climbers rely too much on their hands and don't trust their feet.

I find this to be half true.

Most of the "easy" routes around here don't have "tons of holds" or holds "everywhere", they have virtually no holds at all. It's extremely jarring going from obvious jug hauls in the gym to hunting for minutes on end at each stance for something, anything to hold on to. The gym is enormously poor training for low-angle climbs that emphasize footwork, yet climbers who spend most of their time outdoors (or learned outdoors) regard such climbs as trivially easy.

C Archibolt · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 871
Aleks Zebastian wrote:

climbing friend,

yes it is harder (that is what she would be saying ho ho ha ha!)

physically at least it tis harder, not for the development your route reading or "technique" - but with the very steep boards myah and no rests, no, your puny arms they be quite pumped! 

do not look on the grades too hard, they may often be quite off

I really hope this was directed at me and not the OP. I feel honored to have my puny arms referenced by Aleks, the great troll and defender of women’s suffrage. 

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 350

You also need to remember that you can be spending a lot more time climbing in a gym, or at least have a lot less rests on the ground between climbs. No draws to put up, no gear, no anchors to clean, no bushwhacking just to find the stupid crag, and no "WTF route are we on?!?", lol!

That said, the whole process is more work overall outside, and the climbing takes far more effort, including mental effort. The other huge difference to me, is in the gym, you are climbing someone else's vision of a route and the game is getting into their head to guess what they will push you into. No matter how creative the setter, they will never rival the  complexity of real rock. Outside, you're figuring that out yourself, seeing what the rock might offer, and what you think you might do with it. 

Climbing gyms are fun, I'll be at mine three times this week, but they're...gyms. Exercise to stay or get in shape. Outside, is climbing, for me.

Best, OLH

Eric Castanza · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0
Old lady H wrote:

You also need to remember that you can be spending a lot more time climbing in a gym, or at least have a lot less rests on the ground between climbs. No draws to put up, no gear, no anchors to clean, no bushwhacking just to find the stupid crag, and no "WTF route are we on?!?", lol!

That said, the whole process is more work overall outside, and the climbing takes far more effort, including mental effort. The other huge difference to me, is in the gym, you are climbing someone else's vision of a route and the game is getting into their head to guess what they will push you into. No matter how creative the setter, they will never rival the  complexity of real rock. Outside, you're figuring that out yourself, seeing what the rock might offer, and what you think you might do with it. 

Climbing gyms are fun, I'll be at mine three times this week, but they're...gyms. Exercise to stay or get in shape. Outside, is climbing, for me.

Best, OLH

My girlfriend pretty much said the same thing "that we were beat just from climbing more, there was no set up, walking to the routes and waiting for campers to get off routes".

Also climbing inside I was more dynamic with my climbing do to the short routes and the safety factor.  I was doing moves in the gym  I wouldn't do outside specially on a multi pitch route  that would  waste energy or risk a fall

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "Gym climbing kicked my azz"
in the General Climbing

Log In to Reply