/ NEW ARTICLE: From HVS to E4 by Alun Evans

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Michael Ryan - on 24 Feb 2006
"This article is aimed at the hundreds of climbers out there who are leading around the VS/HVS mark, but wistfully looking across the crag at that classic E-something and thinking "I wish I was good enough to do that". Well, you can be good enough..........."

Alun Evans describes his journey from HVS to E4 in a year.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=184
In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com:

Interesting read and good effort as Tea for Two is regarded as a tough E4, bold and technical.

To be pedantic, the nice opening shot is on Time for Tea - E1!

Chris
MYox - on 24 Feb 2006
In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com:

This was a great read. Good job.

Note to self: sort out diet.
Mr Goose - on 24 Feb 2006
In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com:

Considering the cr@p that occasionally gets posted on here as articles, that one was surprisingly good.
shark - on 24 Feb 2006
In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com:

It would have been more interesting for me to know about how Alun personally put the training principles into practice rather than summarising Horst's book.

I have a sneaking suspiscion that he was capable of far harder routes before but hadn't applied himself.
Pythonist on 24 Feb 2006
Nice article, Alun! I was beginning to wonder if it would ever appear...

In reply to Simon Lee:
> (In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com)
> It would have been more interesting for me to know about how Alun personally put the training principles into practice rather than summarising Horst's book.

Reading Alun's week-by-week training schedule wouldn't be as appealling to the general audience, as it you rather need to change / ignore bits of it specific to your needs / goals...
And as a generic overview article for UKC, the summary's good enough for most.

> I have a sneaking suspiscion that he was capable of far harder routes before but hadn't applied himself.

Wasn't that rather his point?
Most people are capable of harder routes than they currrntly climb, but require the dedication and focus to achieve it...
Michael Ryan - on 24 Feb 2006
In reply to Simon Lee:
> (In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com)
>
> It would have been more interesting for me to know about how Alun personally put the training principles into practice rather than summarising Horst's book.


Alun....you there? Simon Lee would like to know how you personally put the training principles into practice?

M
CJD - on 24 Feb 2006
In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com:

I think that's an ace article, as, more than anything else, it's *inspirational* for the likes of me, and, like all the best self-improvement guides, it breaks things down into goals, breaks those goals down into tasks, attaches time limits to them.

it also reminds me that it would be a good idea for me to apply the same sort of thinking to my own climbing.

Marcus Brewer - on 24 Feb 2006
In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com:
Nice one... like it!
Fume Troll on 24 Feb 2006
In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com: Good one, well done Alun.

Cheers,

FT.
Alun - on 24 Feb 2006
In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com:
Hello everyone, sorry I didn't reply sooner, I'm currently in a ski resort in Switzerland, tough life for some eh.

Thanks for everybody's kind words re the article. I wish I could hang around and write a detailed reply but the connection is shor lived here.

With regards to putting the principles into practice, I think the most important point is to make a realistic plan, and having the self-discipline to stick to it. Making small sacrifices to stick to the plan that I made was the most important thing for me I think.

With regards to being able to climb harder, well I wonät deny I have my sights set a bit higher but as Pythonist mentions many of the principles can be applied to improving to any grade. My point is that I think VS-HVS is sticking point for many climbers (it was for me) and I think it is climbers at this level who perhaps could benefit the most from really making an effort wih their climbing - if they want to!

With regards to it being Horsts book summarised...well even if I agreed with that (I don't, I think there's a more broadly UK, trad, slant on things), is that such a bad thing? We get so many questions on training in the forums every week. An article is much faster to read than a book, and hopefully more inspritational.

And in regards to the photo being only the E1 - sod off!

Thanks again,
Al
Ander on 25 Feb 2006
In reply to Simon Lee:

Simon, I think that's the point. We ALL have that potential inside us.
It's what we chose to be.
Be it PhD, SAS, E4. If we choose we can all do.
They're just human, who put themselves through the hoops.


And I'm pissed. But it's all true.
sofajam9 on 25 Feb 2006
In reply to Alun: Alun,a great inspirational article for climbers like me who have been stuck at VS for years.
Thanks
Pete
practicalcat on 25 Feb 2006
In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com:
I enjoyed it: I've got the Horst book, but it is inspirational to read someone actually putting it into practice
shark - on 25 Feb 2006
> Wasn't that rather his point?
> Most people are capable of harder routes than they currrntly climb, but require the dedication and focus to achieve it...

Perhaps I should qualify myself. I meant Alun may have been capable of climbing much harder than HVS before his training programme - but merely hadnt even tried harder routes. Alun says he followed a training regime to achieve his goal of HVS to E4. The routes he picked to do ie Kitten Claws and Tea for Two are not endurance oriented routes which led me to wonder whether having set some goals and perhaps gained some confidence from having a training programme was impetus enough to try and suceed on routes he might previously have been physically capable of doing.

BTW I am making an interested observation of a process not knocking his achievement. Most climbing articles naturally focus about the actual achievement but I find it just as interesting to know what hoops and setbacks people go through to get the point of being able to achieve vis a vis the plots of Eiger Sanction or 8 mile or Rocky even.

Dominion - on 25 Feb 2006
In reply to Simon Lee:


To a certain degree I can see what you are trying to get at.

The other point that stuck out for me was that Alun had been climbing for some 15 yrs, so probably has a very good, strong, sustained background of climbing VS and HVS.

Whereas I, just approaching my 3rd season of leading outdoors, and having sneaked one VS so far - I'm ignoring The Rib Right Hand (VS 4c in Western Grit) - and about 10 at HS, I just don't have that background. I might get up to E1, if it's an easy one, and I have a good day, by the end of the year. But getting some good solid VSs and maybe some soft-HVS routes is probably more realistic (so not The Grogan, then)...
Stig - on 25 Feb 2006
In reply to Dominion:
> The other point that stuck out for me was that Alun had been climbing for some 15 yrs, so probably has a very good, strong, sustained background of climbing VS and HVS.

This is true but there is no reason why you couldn't lead your first E1 at the end of this year if you put your mind to it. You're selling yourself short and not putting a strategy in place....the whole point of the article! The Grogan was one of a number of 'hard' routes that I seconded in the first few months of climbing outside (others that stick in my mind are Hawkwing and Surgeon's Saunter). None of these I seconded cleanly, but it didn't stop me....in fact I turned those experiences to my advantage, and I led an E1 at the end of my first season. The main thing is to get in a lot of mileage in the grades below and pick a target route that suits your strengths. It strikes me you need to climb a lot more, and second harder routes, to build up the skills and confidence you need to lead harder.
Alun - on 25 Feb 2006
In reply to Simon Lee:
> led me to wonder whether having set some goals and perhaps gained some confidence from having a training programme was impetus enough to try and suceed on routes he might previously have been physically capable of doing

There's the nail on the head. It was precisely the fact that I had a plan, that I had been training, and that I had a goal, which made me know that I was good enough to do them. The extra strength and fitness that I had gave me the confidence to do the hard moves (for me) on trad. I believe that confidence in your own ability is one of the most important things in climbing, especially trad climbing. The whole point of my article is to try and convince people that everybody is capable of climbing harder if they want to, they just need to work a bit in the right way, and be patient.

BTW I'm very pleased that some people have found the article inspiring, that was precisely why I wanted to write it in the first place. :)

Fresh powder falling here in Laax. :D
Offwidth - on 26 Feb 2006
In reply to Alun:

Well done on the article and the E4. I must admit I wondered (I guess a bit like Simon) if you've seen any gains on sustained E2 E3 routes. All my (fairly few) extreme onsight leads were done at a time when quite a few VS climbs stopped me and I regarded myself as a solid HS leader but 'seeing' the type of climbing probably suited me (slabs), from bouldering or seconding harder climbs with others, always got me thorugh. So I agree knowing you can climb that hard really helps but wondered how much of your gain you think was from tackling harder routes with a solid HVS background and how much from the training.
Offwidth - on 26 Feb 2006
In reply to Offwidth:

I guess to clarify things a little I've always felt that the climber that can onsight almost any HVS thrown at them will cope onsight on around half of E1's, quite a few E2's and the odd E3 that suits them (if only they trust their own ability!) and possibly even some soft touch E4s.
ads.ukclimbing.com
DannyC on 27 Feb 2006
In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com:


really good article.

just ordered training for climbing before reading the article as part of a general change in attitude. seems to crop up a lot so hoping it will help.

just thinking i may as well have a go at getting a bit better whilst still (relatively) young, (still have the ability, if i cut down the alc to get) fit, not (completely) obese, and possessing all me limbs.

cheers,
danny
Alun - on 28 Feb 2006
In reply to Offwidth:
> I guess to clarify things a little I've always felt that the climber that can onsight almost any HVS thrown at them will cope onsight on around half of E1's, quite a few E2's and the odd E3 that suits them (if only they trust their own ability!) and possibly even some soft touch E4s.

I agree with that. However, I'm not sure you'll find that many solid HVS leaders who would be happy to try and onsight an E3, even if it is their style.

To answer your question with regards to how confident I am now on E2/3, well I guess the best way of putting it that I'm pretty miffed if I fall off an E2 now (any E2), although I must admit I haven't done much multipitching at this level (I think my only multipitch E2 is Vector at Tremadog). As for E3, well I have onsighted quite a few now (only single pitch though) in several different styles, from long steep limestone walls to delicate gritstone slabs, and as result when I turn up at a new crag, it's the E3s that I'm looking for first. Let's put it this way - I don't expect to fall off an E3, but I'm not surprised if I do! I'd really like to get on some multipitch E3s now though, I have a few on my ticklist for the next few months.

Another thing that I have noticed is that, once you have tried, succeeded (and sometimes even failed) at one grade, you get a lot more confident at the grade below it. Before Tea for Two I had climbed Bitterfingers (E4 6a) at Stoney with a fall/rest (after the crux, bollox!) and failed miserably on Calvary (E4 6a) at Stanage (I know I can't do rockovers - so why did I try?!); but all this has given me a (very small) taste of what E4 climbing is, and so now every time I try an E3 I get the increased confidence from thinking "well, I know I have climbed harder than this, so I should be able to do it without falling". I think that it's this increased confidence, and the extra trust that you then place in your climbing, which the most important point - especially with regards to trad climbing.

Kenny - on 28 Feb 2006
In reply to Alun:
> Another thing that I have noticed is that, once you have tried, succeeded (and sometimes even failed) at one grade, you get a lot more confident at the grade below it.

[snip]

> I think that it's this increased confidence, and the extra trust that you then place in your climbing, which the most important point - especially with regards to trad climbing.

Very good points Alun (good article too). Certainly I would agree that this applies to me, at least (albeit at a much lower level, as you know). Having led 4 VS routes and backed off one in 2003, I felt ready for any old HS. Then proceeded not to climb much at all, ha ha.
There is a flipside to such confidence though...one reason I lobbed off that Severe last Easter was that I was (without arrogance) thinking, even whilst gibbering before the fall, "ah I'll be alright, who the hell falls off a Severe...and in any case that no. 11 nut must be bomber"...

11 months later I have only just got up my first rock route since then (on toprope)
Just saying - good to moderate one's confidence.

In reply to Mick - UKClimbing.com: Good article Alun. Guess I'd better stop being so down on grade chasers and get out training...
Mark Stevenson - on 28 Feb 2006
In reply to Alun: Good article and well done!

I was in a very similar position in that I climbed my first E4 last year. With me it was certainly that I was well able to climb at that standard but had never actually tried properly (as mentioned by Simon/Offwidth etc.). I did set a firm goal and by doing that I had the motivation to actually attempt Resurection rather than just pick a E2 or E3 to try.

However, I need to take some of your advice and actually try some routes hard enough for me to fall/fail on. I can make the foolish boast that I've never failed on an E4 - unfortunately I've only tried 5 though and two of the were DWSs at Swanage!

Ayway best of luck, and we can see which on of us gives Right Wall a go this year :-)

M
Alun - on 28 Feb 2006
In reply to Mark Stevenson:
> Ayway best of luck, and we can see which on of us gives Right Wall a go this year :-)

It's the obvious big tick isn't it?! Though I need to go on Resurrection first!
Stig - on 28 Feb 2006
In reply to Alun: I bet it's physically impossible to get to E4 and not be looking at Right Wall!

I enjoyed the article too. I was wondering about something you mentioned - and it is something in Horst's book that I found a bit dodgy - and that is making sacrifices. Why did you find that it made a difference, and what did you sacrifice? My girlfriend and PhD supervisor think I make more than enough sacrifices for climbing already!

Derbyshire Ben on 28 Feb 2006 - 82-69-14-94.dsl.in-addr.zen.co.uk
In reply to Stig:

>and what did you sacrifice

Last year: Chocolate, Crisps, going to bed late, 'that one last beer', regular surfing trips and mountain biking.

Why did it make a difference? I lost weight for starters and by not going surfing and mountain biking I had (a) more time to go climbing and (b) a good incentive to make the best of days at the crag when the surf was good.

cangen hyll - on 28 Feb 2006
In reply to Alun:

Nice article Alun! Now get back to what you should really be writing! :)

Over here it is bright sunshine and blue skies and it will stay like this all week - see you soon!

Mia.
Alun - on 28 Feb 2006
In reply to Stig:

> Why did you find that it made a difference, and what did you sacrifice?

The biggest factor was time. A bit like Ben, I sacrificed the time I might have spent doing other fun stuff like surfing and biking - as a result I spent less time with the (good) friends who are usually do that stuff with. It also involved spending far too much time in the confines of an indoor wall, they get boring if you're going there two/three times a week - such are the downsides of living in north London and not having any proper climbing nearby.

More subtlely, I sacrificed 'just mucking around' while climbing. On a low level this involved things like hanging around less with my mates while down at the wall (and hanging around under the campus board instead); also not going to bed a little earlier on a weekend away (and missing out some fun!) because I wanted to push myself the next day. Sure, we've all do similar things every now again, but I did it for ages, and I'll be honest it starts to get a bit boring. The other interesting thing was that it gets too boring after a while - I had booked a mountain biking holiday in the alps in the summer, and so for almost two months I did zero climbing and loads of biking, and then after the holiday returned to climbing with renewed vigour. Likewise recently I've had to take a month off because of a finger injury, and now I'm super keen to get back into it!
Alun - on 28 Feb 2006
In reply to cangen hyll:
> Nice article Alun!

Diolch!

> Now get back to what you should really be writing! :)

Oh yeah... :(
IbexJim on 01 Mar 2006 - 10.89.21.167 [194.72.181.182]
In reply to Alun:
Hi Alan, yeah I agree with the 'nice artice' comments. Also impressed by your ambition to go through so many grades....
A few years ago, as a sort=of VS steady leader, I'd done the London marathon 3 times in 5 years, in about 3 hrs each time, and I thought 'If I spent half as much effort training to climb...'. So I set the goal of leading the Corner on the day of the London. Intensive training @ Mile End followed (i.e. up to two times a week!), and I failed: in that I led TC two weeks after the London. So I guess your point is very valid (you spent 2 years, I spent 3 months). However, I am now so elderly..... I can only aspire to E2.

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