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New and Experienced Climbers Over 50 #8

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 190
Randy wrote: As some have stated, FIT is everything in a climbing shoe. Different manufacturers use different shoe lasts (a foot shaped form in various sizes) upon which the shoes are constructed. Depending on whose foot or the type of foot modeled for the last, the shoe may fit your own foot really well or not really.

Find a shoe that fits the shape of your foot.  Then, make sure you get a size that is not "comfortable" when first put on, but quite tight...but not painful. Depending on the materials used to construct the shoe (leather vs. synthetic) the shoe will stretch either a fair amount over time (leather and natural materials) or not much at all (synthetic uppers). A shoe that is going to stretch should be purchase tighter when new, so that it does not become sloppy when broken in.

Since climbing shoes are really just an extension of your feet, a tight fit is important to be able to feel and utilize holds effectively. Precision in using your feet is one of the more difficult skills to learn in climbing.  Gyms are generally very poor venues for learning to use your feet well. Bouldering outside, including traversing low to the ground, are good at developing better footwork. Building strength in your feet is also essential to good footwork (face or crack) and efficient and balanced climbing.

While you can get a gym specific shoe and a sport shoe and a trad shoe, getting one model of shoe that fits and performs well is the best strategy. Just getting a couple pairs of a good all around shoe, and properly break them in, may be a better strategy.

Also, unless you are climbing basically full time and putting lots of vertical miles on your shoes, they should not wear out all the time. That type of wear is a strong indicator of poor footwork.  Generally, you will go through lead ropes faster than shoes.

When someone says “You should be climbing better than this. I think it’s your shoes.” you wanna really hope it’s the shoes. So let’s see what happens with a new pair. 

All these posts and specific information have been so helpful today. Thank you for taking the time to share and teach. 
One more sort of related question:  what DO you experienced climbers wear for cracks?  I’m thinking of Double Cross again (and other long cracks)... sticking my TC Pros in those cracks and sheering off the rubber when I pull my feet out... when Todd Gordon says “Shred!” I don’t think he means that!  
Randy · · Lassitude 33 · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 1,509
Lori Milas wroteOne more sort of related question:  what DO you experienced climbers wear for cracks?  I’m thinking of Double Cross again (and other long cracks)... sticking my TC Pros in those cracks and sheering off the rubber when I pull my feet out... when Todd Gordon says “Shred!” I don’t think he means that!  

Pretty much any type of shoe will work in a crack. With that said, very thin cracks will be easier with a narrow toed shoe, and wide cracks with a more robust shoe. But, whatever shoe you end up with as your "go-to" all around shoe, should be just fine for you.

The problem you describe is not the shoe, but poor footwork (in the crack).  As a very general rule, you place your foot in the crack by bending your leg at the knee outward from your body (right leg bends right, left left to the left). The result should be your shoe oriented with your little toe facing downward and your big toe tilted upward. You then place your foot in the crack and then straighten your leg until the foot/shoe tightens (cams) into the crack. Stand up and repeat with the other foot.

When removing your foot from the crack, you reverse the process - you bend your knee back out until the shoe is loosened and then remove it.  Think foot "jamming." Just like with hand jams, the more precise you are, the fewer the cuts or abrasions. Look for natural constrictions and features in the crack (just like for hand jams and placing pro) for the best placement of your foot.

If your gym has some cracks, practicing your footwork is just as important as practicing your jams. Try to place your foot as described, then move up by standing up on your foot, rather than pulling up on your hand jam. Use your hands for balance while you move your feet up, one at a time.

It is difficult to over-emphasis the importance of good footwork in climbing. It is usually the LAST skill that climbers begin to master. Remember, you can stand around on your legs all day - your time hanging from your arms is very limited.  
Dallas R · · Traveling the USA · Joined May 2013 · Points: 181
Lori Milas wrote:

 what DO you experienced climbers wear for cracks?  

Ocun Crack gloves...  put pinky toe down and twist.  It hurts, your going to shred your shoes.  When your foot gets stuck twist you ankle sideways changing the angle from standing on the bottom of your foot to standing on the outside edge of your foot.  When you fall, I promise, neither your foot nor your leg will get pulled off. 

Russ Walling · · Overlord @ FishProducts · Joined Oct 2004 · Points: 3,426
Lori Milas wrote:

When someone says “You should be climbing better than this. I think it’s your shoes.” you wanna really hope it’s the shoes. So let’s see what happens with a new pair. 

All these posts and specific information have been so helpful today. Thank you for taking the time to share and teach. 
One more sort of related question:  what DO you experienced climbers wear for cracks?  I’m thinking of Double Cross again (and other long cracks)... sticking my TC Pros in those cracks and sheering off the rubber when I pull my feet out... when Todd Gordon says “Shred!” I don’t think he means that!  

For cracks I would wear the 5.10 grandstone.... long discontinued, BUT, they are back in their product line.  I have not tried the new ones but will soon.  I don’t have a Sportiva foot, or I would wear the TC Pro for cracks.

My latest go to shoe for fluffy vacation graded limestone and everything else besides OW is the Anasazi Pro.  If I had to pick one boot to do it all, that would be the one.  It edges better and is stiffer than the regular tan Anasazi, and has a protective rubber doo-dad over the toe area for cracks.
I like and need a stiff boot... some have seen my magic trick with my feet.  Next time you need to really bear down on a toe edge, think of this vid:And really it’s worse than that... I can bend them all the way back until they touch the top of my foot, thus the need for a stiff boot.



And before you say it... I know... I have pretty feet for a man
Carl Schneider · · Adelaide, South Australia · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
phylp wrote:

Throwback Thursday - Me buildering at the quad, Stanford University, 1986

Had they even INVENTED bouldering back then? Are you over 50 or over 80?   

Cosmiccragsman AKA Dwain · · Las Vegas, Nevada · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 106

Yep bouldering has been around forever.
First time I ever bouldered was in 1959 in  Sasebo, Japan
when I was 4. I was bouldering the rock terrace behind our house
 and took a 15 foot header. It took a FEW stitches to close the head wound. I still have the scar.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526

There was bouldering in Fontainbleau and the UK in the 19th century.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fontainebleau_rock_climbing .  For more consult https://www.blurb.com/b/518476-the-origins-of-bouldering .

Howard Griffin · · North Alabama · Joined Sep 2019 · Points: 0

Hey great thread and I'm not quite 50 (44) but I found that like most online forums or social media sites, the over 50 crowd actually has more contributive content.  That being said I'm definitely mid life still thinks he's got it guy.  I admit it but at the same time know that I have to be smarter and humble about my fitness and goals.

So this thread seems to cover everything from wellness, gear, and experiences.  I climbed almost daily in my early 20s when it was relatively new to where I lived at the time when a couple of indoor climbing gyms popped up.  Friend of mine and I where hardcore into marital arts and weight lifting and it was interesting to see how that translated into climbing.  Of course at that time we're reckless and strong, climbing with little technique and relying on brute strength and dumb courage.  I was in tae kwon do and my buddy did kung fu and it was interesting to think back now on how I was the more blunt and explosive climber while he was smooth and graceful.  

Point of this is, while getting back in climbing, I've had to keep my past experience and fitness levels in perspective, not make the same mistakes that a younger me or a current over zealous me would make.  Since I want to make climbing a primary hobby now I need to make calibrations to my fitness routines to compliment like not doing such heavy lifts, adding more resistance bands, mobility drills, and paying more attention to my yoga sessions (and not just going through the motions).  

I have high blood pressure and have had a couple mild heart attacks so I watch what I eat, and take medication.  During any kind of workout I wear a Polar heart rate chest strap and log my fitness on my Polar watch and phone app.  Climbing kicks your ASS!  I've seen some peak HRs which tell me I need to focus on the breathing and being energy efficient on my climbs.  I once used to kill 5.10+ in my 20s and now I'm struggling with 5.8/9s where I either gas out or simply get stuck with what move to make next.  Rotators still get really sore so I know I'm still making gross mechanical errors or technical moves that are taxing my shoulders more than they should.

I wearing La Sportivia Turantulace and think I could go with a more aggressive shoe? Those of you that indoor gym climb how often do you go, and how much rest do you give yourself between climbs or bouldering?

Buck Rogers · · Germany · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 205
rgold wrote: There was bouldering in Fontainbleau and the UK in the 19th century.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fontainebleau_rock_climbing .  For more consult https://www.blurb.com/b/518476-the-origins-of-bouldering .

And Font is still mindblowingly amazing!!!

I bouldered there in September this year for the first time and I am going back next summer for a three day weekend to boulder again with my wife and kiddos..

(and I do NOT consider myself a "boulderer" but it is just THAT good there!)
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526

The Font is fantastic.  In 1970, I got disgusted with bad weather in the Alps and spent a great ten days in Fontainbleau.  Now I sometimes have dreams that I've discovered it in my back yard.

dragons · · MWV, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 777
Carl Schneider wrote:

No, there weren't many people there, hence the boredom.  I mean, who am I going to show off to?

Don't have any Instafans?   

frank minunni · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined May 2011 · Points: 93

Here’s one from a member of the over 50 set.

This was my second day of climbing…ever.

In November of 1977, I invited myself along on a trip to the Gunks with an old gymnastics teammate. I had no idea what climbing was aside from his description and a few pictures. The first day I just watched as Howie and Mo Hershoff climbed. The second, day I followed Bunny, a 5.4 and failed miserably on Rhodendrom, a 5.6. I loved being out there and vowed to be back in the spring when the weather warmed up.

Over the winter, my brother introduced me to his friend, Artie who was, supposedly, an experienced climber. Artie was about six foot five with dark, bushy hair and the wingspan of an Albatross. After meeting, we decided to get out as soon as the weather broke. So there we were the following spring, filled with blind ambition and exuberance. Over the winter, I read Basic Rockcraft and Advanced Rockcraft by Royal Robbins. Anyone familiar with these books knows that there’s not really much there; certainly not by today’s standards. There were no gyms and I didn’t know there were guides.

That Fateful day

We drove up from the city in Artie’s beat up Ford van, grabbed breakfast and drove up to the cliffs. We parked on the road just below the Uberfall. And yes, back then you could park directly below the Uberfall on a beautiful day. We grabbed the rope, gear and walked up the crag, heading over to the Brat, an easily and often toproped 5.6. Things were going quite well at that point. We climbed The Brat and Katzenjammer without much fuss. Mightily impressed with ourselves, we decided to do Disneyland in the Near Trapps; I believe it was rated as 5.4 (5?) at the time. We didn’t think it would be too hard considering we had just climbed a 5.6 and a 5.7. The plan was for Artie to lead and me to follow.

We got to the base of the climb, got set up and Artie headed up. We had a set of stoppers, hexes and some slings. We were using the classic Swami belts for a harnesses. Artie got about halfway up the first pitch and started doddering about, finally asking to be lowered.

 When he got to the ground he said, “Okay. You give it a try. I can’t reach the pin.”

“Me? Are you fucking kidding me? If you can’t reach it how can I? You’re more than a foot taller than I am.”

“Don’t worry” he said, “You’re a natural.”

So I took the gear and started up. Oddly enough I got to the belay; a small perch with room for one sitting crouched down. I built what I thought was an anchor. To this day I have no idea if the anchor was worth anything. Artie followed without much fuss and after rearranging the gear headed up the second pitch. He twice got about two feet above my head and came back down.
After the second try he said, “I can’t do this, you’re going to have to finish it.”

“What the fuck? Don’t send me up there. I don’t even know where I’m going.”

“Just go up the corner and it will be obvious.” he said.

So up the corner I go, scared out of my mind. I put in a nut or two, which I don’t have much confidence in when I spot a piton up ahead. I clip the pin, let out a sigh of relief and continue to the top of the corner. When I get there,  I don’t know which way to go. I look to my right but I don’t see any footholds and it looks really scary. I look to my left and there’s an overhang but it looks like it has really big holds. I figure I can do pull-ups, so I head in that direction. Unfortunately I was heading towards what would become Disneyland Point (5.10). I’m not sure if it was even established yet. I reach out and, remembering my Advanced Rockcraft, get my hand in something of a jam. I lean out grabbing further out the overhang when my right arm starts to burn. I look down and It’s covered in wasps. At this point I am in abject terror. My feet are up on the wall and I can’t get out of that position. The next thing I know, I’m airborne upside down and backwards. The rope comes tight and the back of my head smashes against the cliff with a bang a flash of light. I tried to right myself but passed out. The last thing I heard before going out was the rack jingling through the trees.
The next thing I heard was Artie screaming my name. I righted myself and yelled back that I was okay. After getting upright I looked in front of me and there was a huge splotch of blood on the cliff, which you could hear dripping into the trees. I promptly lost breakfast.

Fortunately. another party had reached the belay ledge, because we had no idea what to do next. Unfortunately they didn’t speak English. But somehow we figured out a way to get me back to the ground. I’m not really sure how we did it since I was in shock by that time. Artie was lowered to ground as well.

I took a look at myself when I reached the ground.. I was covered in blood from head to toe. There was literally blood everywhere and it was still flowing. I used a sock to try and staunch the bleeding as best I could. We immediately headed to back to the Uberfall figuring the Ranger would know what to do. When we walked up, the Ranger, Chuck Liff, just said, “Holy shit. You’ve got to be kidding.”
We asked him what to do and he said, “What do you want me to do? Get in your car and drive to the Hospital.” Artie got directions and in a daze, I got to the van. When we got to the ER at Vassar, they rushed me in since I looked pretty bad. The doctor sewed up my head with 27 stiches, gave me a unit of blood and said, “You’re a lucky man. Your head is harder than a rock.”
I was back in the Gunks the following weekend with the stitches still in my head. I figured I was either going to be too petrified to climb or love it. 42 Years later, I would say it’s the latter. It was the first of many falls and hopefully there are more waiting in the wings.

PS: I had the dubious honor of making it into “Climbing Accidents in North America” on my first lead.

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 190
Russ Walling wrote:


I like and need a stiff boot... some have seen my magic trick with my feet.  Next time you need to really bear down on a toe edge, think of this vid:And really it’s worse than that... I can bend them all the way back until they touch the top of my foot, thus the need for a stiff boot.



And before you say it... I know... I have pretty feet for a man

We ask for climbing videos, and this is what we get???    

Actually, Russ... it's a great video.  Although you have been doing this for probably a lifetime, it is exactly this toe thing we were working on the last few times in Josh.  Exactly this.  It's not an intuitive concept, but man, if you can get the side of that big toe into a dime-thin edge, it's just astonishing how well it works.  Now the secret's out!  

Greg Opland · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2001 · Points: 322
frank minunni wrote: Here’s one from a member of the over 50 set.
“Me? Are you fucking kidding me? If you can’t reach it how can I? You’re more than a foot taller than I am.”

“Don’t worry” he said, “You’re a natural.”
Ha ha ha. Nobody's more confident in their partner's ability than a leader who's backed off something.

When we walked up, the Ranger, Chuck Liff, just said, “Holy shit. You’ve got to be kidding.”

I laughed out loud when I read that and formed a mental picture.

Glad you were okay. Memorable beginnings for sure!
Great story.
dragons · · MWV, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 777

frank, that was priceless! Thanks!

SeƱor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
frank minunni wrote: Here’s one from a member of the over 50 set.

This was my second day of climbing…ever.
...
PS: I had the dubious honor of making it into “Climbing Accidents in North America” on my first lead.

Love this story. Thank you!

wendy weiss · · boulder, co · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 10
Howard Griffin wrote: 
Climbing kicks your ASS!  I've seen some peak HRs which tell me I need to focus on the breathing and being energy efficient on my climbs.  I once used to kill 5.10+ in my 20s and now I'm struggling with 5.8/9s where I either gas out or simply get stuck with what move to make next.  Rotators still get really sore so I know I'm still making gross mechanical errors or technical moves that are taxing my shoulders more than they should.

I wearing La Sportivia Turantulace and think I could go with a more aggressive shoe? Those of you that indoor gym climb how often do you go, and how much rest do you give yourself between climbs or bouldering?

Howard, it sounds to me -- just a guess -- that the issue isn't your shoes, but that you need to work on technique. A few (dozen?) posts ago there were some posts on the importance of footwork and how much less strength it takes to rely on your legs, rather than using your arms to pull yourself up.

For various reasons, including past injuries (rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders), I no longer climb outside, but still try to get to the gym a couple of times a week for the challenge and exercise. The older I get, the more attention I pay to body position and footwork.  

frank minunni · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined May 2011 · Points: 93
dragons wrote: frank, that was priceless! Thanks!

Thanks.  There's more where that came from.  If people like it, I can write up another one.

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 311

Frank- Great story! Basic and Advanced Rockcraft is all one needed. When youngsters ask how to learn I tell them to get those 2 books and start their. Climbing IS pretty darn simple when you get down to it.
Lori, Randy explains boots pretty well. You should really try to climb in your approach shoes. 5.10 guide tennies are 10x better then what we had in the 70’s.... EB’s were the shit. One had to develop great footwork or you could not climb at all.
Do this and afterwards any and all modern boots will be much superior performance wise.
Two quotes come to my mind regarding shoes: #1 Bob Kamps was fond of saying- “that climb is not that hard, but it does require good footwork” - always given with that smile and twinkle in his eye.
The other is from a little known climber- Erik Ericsson- while listening to somebody blaming his shoes for failure. “Dude! Climbing IS NOT about shiny new shoes!” 
And Russ.... show us some more of your amazing tricks! 

Lon Harter · · Reno · Joined May 2018 · Points: 361

Well Frank we are waiting! Loved it got a good chuckle out it glad it all worked out. Cheers!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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