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How to climb faster?


Original Post
kck · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 85

I'm curious if anyone has written on how to train to climb faster. I know the speed can be correlated with difficulty level but not always. For example, I am middle of the road in terms of speed when I'm onsighting below my limit, but even then I'm not really as fast as I can be - taking advantage of ledges and rests to get the heart rate down when I could probably keep going. For some others, like my female climbing partner, even at way below her limit her speed is pretty constant, just slow and steady. It works for her as she sends the routes, but speed has advantages like long multipitches or even getting a lot of volume in a day of cragging.

I don't believe speed is a style thing and that it cannot be changed. Like all things in climbing I think it can be trained for, but I am I looking specifically for training programs or drills that I can use to improve my climbing time.

Also I'm talking specifically about onsight climbing, not redpoint attempts.

Sean Onasch · · fort collins · Joined May 2016 · Points: 105

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cayW-n3KNbE     This may help answer your question. 

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 746

IMO most of the time wasted on mutipitch climbing isn't on the climbing part, but on the other stuff, like pulling/flaking rope, sorting/switching gear, taking off/putting on belay jackets, resting/hydrating, etc. I think the speed improvement you would get out of climbing the pitch faster is almost irrelevant, unless you are trying to set a speed record.

When you are talking about the difference between your "middle of the road/average" speed, and your partner's "slow and steady" speed, have you actually timed yourself and her on the same climb a few times? (assuming that you guys are both onsighting this climb and you aren't a much stronger climber than she is, so you aren't climbing at a level a few grades below your max onsight, while she is trying to pull an onsight at her hardest). How much of a difference are we talking about? Unless you had timed yourself and her, I am not sure you can even tell that you are climbing faster than her, because time feels so different when you are climbing, vs belaying.

As to how to train it... i would guess you force yourself to do exactly what you say you want to train. E.i. if you think you are wasting time at rests, next time just don't, keep going.

I am sure doing timed laps on routes would help, too. Something like, pick couple routes at the gym, something that would add up to the total length of a typical pitch, and is in your onsight range, climb them, time yourself on the first lap, rest a fixed amount of time (about equal to the time it took you to climb the routes), then repeat this timed climb/rest interval several times, until you can't finish your routes & are falling off. You will see that the time it takes you to climb the routes will be going up as you are getting more tired. Keep record of it, and keep doing it 2x a week or so, and I am sure you would see an improvement both in your time to climb a route, and the number of time you can repeat the cycle.

Ryan Strickland · · Idyllwild, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 127

Speed Climbing! How to climb faster and better. by Hans Florine

I really liked the book. It's for a broad audience of experienced climbers, not just for NAID attempts. It describes techniques and mindsets for climbing faster. 

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Lena chita wrote:

IMO most of the time wasted on mutipitch climbing isn't on the climbing part, but on the other stuff, like pulling/flaking rope, sorting/switching gear, taking off/putting on belay jackets, resting/hydrating, etc. I think the speed improvement you would get out of climbing the pitch faster is almost irrelevant, unless you are trying to set a speed record.

^^^^ This.

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125

While a lot (most?) of time is lost at the belay, plenty of time can be lost dicking around with gear. Having the confidence of running it out a bit to better stance/more straightforward gear placements can speed up things quite a bit (which also speeds up the cleaning second).

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 773
kck wrote:

I'm curious if anyone has written on how to train to climb faster. I know the speed can be correlated with difficulty level but not always. For example, I am middle of the road in terms of speed when I'm onsighting below my limit, but even then I'm not really as fast as I can be - taking advantage of ledges and rests to get the heart rate down when I could probably keep going. For some others, like my female climbing partner, even at way below her limit her speed is pretty constant, just slow and steady. It works for her as she sends the routes, but speed has advantages like long multipitches or even getting a lot of volume in a day of cragging.

I don't believe speed is a style thing and that it cannot be changed. Like all things in climbing I think it can be trained for, but I am I looking specifically for training programs or drills that I can use to improve my climbing time.

Also I'm talking specifically about onsight climbing, not redpoint attempts.

Look at the stunning unedited vid of the 5.15 climb on here!

Watching 5.14+ climbers on 5.12 walk-up onsights, they are smooth as can be, with no mistakes. Spot the next move, make it precisely (eyes there until it's done), and repeat. A truly beautiful thing to watch!

Best, Helen

kck · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 85
reboot wrote:

While a lot (most?) of time is lost at the belay, plenty of time can be lost dicking around with gear. Having the confidence of running it out a bit to better stance/more straightforward gear placements can speed up things quite a bit (which also speeds up the cleaning second).

true. which is why I'm posting this question in the sport climbing forum. I know gear and belay logistics affect the speed greatly but I'm only interested in the time the climber spends moving. 

kck · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 85
Old lady H wrote:

Look at the stunning unedited vid of the 5.15 climb on here!

Watching 5.14+ climbers on 5.12 walk-up onsights, they are smooth as can be, with no mistakes. Spot the next move, make it precisely (eyes there until it's done), and repeat. A truly beautiful thing to watch!

Best, Helen

This is true. Perhaps I just need to be more solid at my onsight grade and maybe that's all there is to it.

J Squared · · santa barbara, CA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

have you considered climbing with a Crisis Inducer?


https://soundcloud.com/nc64351/crisis-inducer

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 135

How comfortable are you at running things out?  How much do you preplan your moves, even with an onsight?  Do you plan out the first 10 moves in your head, and then plan out the next 10 when you rest, or are trying to figure out the next move until after you finish the last one.  

Of course you are going to be faster when you climb below your limit, you can make do with bad holds or mistakes on foot placement, where you can't do these things at your limit.  You are also more comfortable using a mediocre hold if the route is easy, since at least 1 or 2 of the other points of contact will be bomber, whereas when you are at your limit, a single mediocre hold may make you rethink how solid the other holds are.

Do you have any climbing 'tics?'  Do you go the chalk bag when you don't need to?  Do you need to give three momentum 'rocks' on a hold before you go?  Do you test each hold instead of just using it?  All these things add time to the route.

Finally, how is your head?  Are you fine with falling?  If you don't like to fall, you are going to be slower.  You are less tolerant of mistakes, less tolerant of trusting mediorce holds, less tolerant of pushing your strength.

Victor K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 170

One of my climbing partners climbs much faster than I. He gave me a tip a few years ago that helped a lot, particularly on climbs near my limit. He suggested reading sequences rather than moves. So, from a good stance, I look at the sequence to the next clip, and then execute the whole thing, moving continuously. I try to anticipate the poor holds so I'm not hanging out on them more than a moment. This is very easy to practice in the gym. Keeping you body moving in a continuous flow makes a huge difference to your overall speed. For gym warmups, I'm getting 40' routes done in about 3 minutes or less, without any rush. 

David Morison · · salt lake city, UT · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 70


some inspiration

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
kck wrote:

true. which is why I'm posting this question in the sport climbing forum. I know gear and belay logistics affect the speed greatly but I'm only interested in the time the climber spends moving. 

Hmm, I assumed it wasn't because if you are sport climbing why would you even care (or for that matter care very much about onsight only).

But I'll entertain your question: if you want to climb faster in sport climbing, become a more powerful climber (vs a more endurance climber), then you'll pretty much be forced to. Wouldn't necessarily make you a better onsight sport climber though.

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294

Matt Lloyd has written about this. http://www.mountainstrongdenver.com/speed-in-sport-climbing-using-speed-to-increase-climbing-ability/

While it's not written specifically about onsighting, I think just practice climbing faster will improve your speed both onsighting and redpointing.

Some of the slowness may be mental than physical though. I know I'm very slow when onsighting because I'm often very indecisive. "Should I try this sequence, or should I use that sequence? Should I clip here, or should I climb a little higher up? I wonder if that jug is really as good as it looks..." Also it doesn't help when the route is not very steep and I feel like I can hang out at rests forever. When I try to onsight overhanging routes, I'm much better about just climb because I know I don't have time to hang out and rest forever.

Jim Turner · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 295

I read this tip here recently and it’s helpful for me:  Get upward progress with every step of your feet.  Place your right foot higher then the left, and then the left higher than the right.  Don’t match feet unless you have to.  (Same goes for the hands.). You’ll move more efficiently, keeping momentum, and so move faster with less effort and less need to rest and slow your heart rate. 

And better to keep your feet under you on bad holds than out to the side on good holds.

kck · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 85
aikibujin wrote:

Matt Lloyd has written about this. http://www.mountainstrongdenver.com/speed-in-sport-climbing-using-speed-to-increase-climbing-ability/


Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for!

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0

Why has noone brought up the number one way to climb faster? Ditch the partner and gear.

phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 617

No one has specifically said anything about breathing, so I thought I'd mention it.  For sport climbing, the steeper the route, the faster I HAVE to climb to have a chance of onsighting, because I don't have the strength/endurance to hang out at that angle otherwise.  What really helps me is to actively change my breathing pattern.  Before I leave the ground I start breathing deeper and faster than normal, in through the nose, out through the mouth, but forcefully and quickly.  I'm not sure from a physiology standpoint why this helps, since climbing is allegedly mostly anerobic, but it really makes a difference for me.  Part of it I think is that it's also a physical cue to keep moving at a fast pace.

Tomily ma · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 305

When your baby is screaming at the base of the crag and your dog is eating someone’s lunch and barking you climb very fast. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Sport Climbing
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