/ NEW ARTICLE: Training to Become a Better Climber - E1/6b/V2

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UKC Articles - on 21 Jul 2011
Route reading and visualisation - a useful skill to practice, 4 kbThis is the third piece in a series of training articles and is aimed at intermediate climbers (Approximate grade range of around UK HVS to E1, Sport grade 6a to 6b+ or bouldering grade V0 to V3.



With a specific training plan, technique tips and detailed coaching, this article series has all you need to know to become a better climber.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=3924

simoninger - on 27 Jul 2011
Funny isn't it. Old timers like me learned to climb on slabs, aretes and corners, then in later life needed to learn how to do overhanging plywood. Now they do it the other way round....
NorthernGrit - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

Is it just me that thinks it slightly strange that a series of articles guiding people to climb up to E1 does not make any mention of placing gear?
AJM - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to NorthernGrit:

Placing gear is a relatively simple thing to learn compared with all the other things involved, plus the key to cracking harder grades is almost always in the other things rather than learning to place gear faster, so an article about improvement should focus on the skills that need to be improved to generate that performance boost.
ClimberEd - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to NorthernGrit)
>
> Placing gear is a relatively simple thing to learn compared with all the other things involved, plus the key to cracking harder grades is almost always in the other things rather than learning to place gear faster, so an article about improvement should focus on the skills that need to be improved to generate that performance boost.

Am not sure I agree. Maybe I generally climb quickly, but for me placing gear is a real strength sapper....
AJM - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to ClimberEd:

Is that a disagreement? Of course placing gear is strength sapping, it's one of the many reasons so few people onsight their sport limits on wires. My point is more that you can learn to place gear relatively quickly relatively easily and then there's not as much extra improvement you can get from it, after all fiddly gear is fiddly gear. I believe that the improvements you make from a better climbing pace, a better lead head combined with more tactical (less fear induced) gear placement, and more strength and skill at actually climbing generate far bigger returns than spending time learning how to place wires a bit faster.
Gordon Stainforth - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

I can't see any mention of jamming. All very odd.
Ewan Russell - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
its interesting reading, but as far as I can tell is pretty useless to increasing your trad grade. Your sport+indoor grades however it looks very useful. Strange how its marketed as being "training to become a better climber part 3 HVS-E1" make more sense to me to call it "training to become a better climber 6a-6b+" or similar.
Just my thoughts
Ewan
Ewan Russell - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:
Oh and p.s I eagerly await the next one which I am guessing will be aimed at my personal level of inability!
Michael Gordon - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

I also thought it was a pretty odd article. Surely bridging up corners is one of the first things you learn as a climber - after all they're often easier lines of weakness on an otherwise steep crag. And yet this simple technique (at least when there's footholds and handholds on either side) is only brought in after stuff like flagging and eqyptians. I can't imagine someone leading Severe-HVS would ever need to use an egyptian!
a lakeland climber on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to Michael Gordon:

I've climbed to E5 and F7b and never needed one!

Up to E3/4 or F6c+/7a the best training for climbing is climbing.

To be honest my eyes glazed over after a couple of paragraphs, seems like a wasted opportunity.

ALC
rlines - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to a lakeland climber: Article is a great idea, but I was also confused as to why it was all set in an indoor wall with the title suggesting trad. Even the few outdoor shots looked to be bolted!

Al Randall on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to rlines: I assumed that the article was aimed at indoor climbers. In my experience indoor climbers do not have a problem with the physical movement side of things but reading the rock, finding the holds, placing the gear and getting used to the bigger fall potential is what causes them to drop several grades on trad. Unfortunately these skills can ONLY be learned by climbing more outdoors and particularly on trad. If you are resorting to flags and egyptians at HVS and E1 you are doing it wrong.

If you stand at the bottom doing that hand dancing thing you will look like a pretentious tw*t, not a hard climber and if you can see never mind predict the hand holds that you are likely to use, then you are a better man/woman than me.

Al
NorthernGrit - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to rlines:

Yes that was my thought. It's a good article for what it is but it seemed strange that it was titled in trad terms but seemed to be targeting indoor climbing or sport at the most.

Perhaps encouraging people who are cruising 6a at their local indoor wall to throw themselves at E1s without much other experience isn't the best idea?

Also there are an awful lot of climbers (me for one) who climb well below their technical limit on trad due to not 100% trusting their gear.
Robbie_Phillips - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:


Hi guys! If you'd read the first paragraph you would have seen:


"This is the third piece in a series of training articles and is aimed at intermediate climbers (approximate grade range of around UK HVS to E1, sport grade 6a to 6b+ or bouldering grade V0 to V3."

The reason it says trad grades initially is because the majority of climbers on this website are trad climbers and it makes it easier for them to see trad grades than sport grades, but we put both in as well as bouldering to make it easier.

All techniques in climbing are important to whatever standard you climb at - it just makes it simpler to put different techniques in different articles so that you aren't bombarded by lots of information in one reading. I have separated techniques across the board into all the different articles along the series.


Robbie_Phillips - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to Michael Gordon:

And if you had read past the first paragraph:

"These are funnily enough also the first walls we as climbers encounter when we start to climb, so why is it that as we improve as climbers, we forget how to climb on them?"

This isn't an article for total beginners hence the grade range - it takes into account that you have a bit of experience climbing and have already gone through the stages of climbing easy juggy slabs and corners and are venturing on into new territory.
AJM - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to Al Randall:

> If you are resorting to flags and egyptians at HVS and E1 you are doing it wrong.

I'd say if you aren't using them in the right place to use them then you aren't very good at actually climbing! You have really never put a sneaky drop knee in to get your foot onto higher footholds in a corner say? - it's something you should try, you might find you get something from it...

> If you stand at the bottom doing that hand dancing thing you will look like a pretentious tw*t, not a hard climber and if you can see never mind predict the hand holds that you are likely to use, then you are a better man/woman than me.

A weakness in your ability to route read, not in the process itself I'm afraid!

AJM - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to AJM:

Just as a random thought, the use of the word "resort" when referring to efficient ways to do particular moves is very revealing... Almost as though these efficient techniques are pigeonholed as the kind of thing one might learn indoors and could never have any use on real rock, which seems a bit close minded...
Al Randall on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to AJM: You might want to take a look at my profile before assuming my incompetence and accusing me of being close minded.

Al
Robbie_Phillips - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to NorthernGrit:

Just want to clarify this one point that keeps getting brought up. These articles are designed to aid climbers training in indoor walls to improve their climbing ability/level. The articles are for climbers that climb outdoors as well as indoors, trad cimbers, sport climbers, boulderers, etc... saying this is for HVS to E1 for example, just means that we are looking at climbers around that level of technical and physical ability on those graded trad climbs. Like i also said before, we included sport grades and boulder grades to satisfy everybody. The training we do indoors isn't with trad gear and this article isn't covering that aspect of the sport, thats why it isn't included, however it may be an area looked at in future articles.

Hope this clarifies everything and I hope you enjoy reading the future more advanced articles.
Gordon Stainforth - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to Robbie_Phillips:

Just face it: your article was misleadingly flagged as being about training for climbing HVS and E1 routes.
AJM - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to Al Randall:

I've seen your profile. I've read many of your postings. So what? I'm judging based on your words.

You think that drop knees are something you "resort" to, almost as if there's a better way to do the sort of moves you might drop knee on. That to me indicates an unwillingness to use them (and flags for that matter) in the situations they might be useful.

You also think that route reading isn't very useful and makes you look stupid. That implies you aren't very good at it. Most people aren't of course - my friends who have done coaching courses have all said they have been amazed by how much good climbers can really read from the ground.

Theres a difference between incompetence and saying you dont sound yet like you have nothing left to learn - the latter not the former is what ive said, if you look at my post.

The close minded comment came about because I do find it strange the number of predominantly trad climbers on the thread who give off the impression that because the article has lots of photos of indoors and deals with stuff like steep rock technique that it can't be that relevant to trad - techniques that help you climb better improve your trad grade as much as anything else.....
Gordon Stainforth - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to AJM:

Just in case you get me wrong, I would be the last person to say that indoor walls aren't hugely beneficial to climbing ability generally. I used drop knee and flagging techniques much more effectively on mountain routes - even at quite lowly grades - once I'd learned much more about them on climbing walls.
Blue Straggler - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to Robbie_Phillips:

I've only had a chance to skim-read your article so far and I salute the effort you've put into it, it looks well laid out and well thought out. I also salute your measured response to the detractors on this thread. Playing Devil's Advocate though, I would have to agree that the "HVS to E1" title does imply an aim different to the actual aim of your article/programme. Yes, the opening paragraph expands on this, but headlines do stick. Maybe get the title changed to something like "E1/6b/V2" ? Best wishes
Harry Holmes - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to UKC Articles: didnt ukc decide on the thread title so shouldnt you be complaining at them?

and from what ive been told you dont want robbie teaching people how to place gear, although ive never seen any of it myself
Robbie_Phillips - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to naffan:

Exactly! : P

Cheers Bue, yeah, I will bring up the title with the editor : ) Thanks everyone for the input
Al Randall on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to AJM: I think we are splitting hairs here and just disputing semantics. I do use those techniques to good affect but not at the HVS grade. Of course route reading is important but I am not convinced that standing at the bottom of a 300ft HVS and waving your hands about serves any useful purpose.

I'll bail out now because your comments are becoming directed at me and not a discussion about the article so lets just agree to disagree.

Al
Robbie_Phillips - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to Al Randall:
> I am not convinced that standing at the bottom of a 300ft HVS and waving your hands about serves any useful purpose.
>
>
>
>

What if there are loads of midges?

Harry Holmes - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to Robbie_Phillips: midges dont climb very well so you might aswell start!
Robbie_Phillips - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to naffan:

Too true, but they fly very well! Especially on 300ft HVS's in Glen Etive when there's no wind. Perhaps waving your hands around in the air whilst climbing could be an appropriate technique to describe for the next article?
ads.ukclimbing.com
Blue Straggler - on 27 Jul 2011
In reply to Robbie_Phillips:
> an appropriate technique to describe for the next article?

Next article should be "how to deal with your gear dropping out"(*). I was impressed last night when a mate, in the middle of a long and drawn out crux move at the top end of his technical ability, spotted that his only gear (low crux) had dropped out. Most of us would have sworn and started gibbering. He said "Oh my HAT - my gear's come out", did a bit of Elvis leg just for effect, and just reached down and plugged it back in, subsequently denying that he had said anything at all. I learned something from this, I feel. I don't know what I learned, I just FEEL it.

* not in a Dr. Rebecca Williams "Mindfulness" way either.

AJM - on 28 Jul 2011
In reply to Al Randall:

If the crux is near the start you might find the hand waving very helpful. And I do think that if you can't see a use for these techniques at easier grades then you will be thugging your way through moves you could do with far less effort. Movement training is best done in unstressed conditions (on easier ground) after all, so practise on easy routes helps engrain good habits so that they become second nature on harder ones. The same obviously holds true for bad habits!

I don't actually see my comments as directed at you at all - you happened to be the person whose comments provoked a response, but that's possibly because of the various dismissive posts on the article yours ("you're doing it wrong" wasn't it?) seemed perhaps the most dismissive.

As a more general point, doing the same thing you've always done gets you the same results you've always got. I think that people should bear that in mind before dismissing the article out of hand - it's very easy to get stuck in a nice comfortable groove, doing the same training, climbing the same grades, at the same sort of comfort level. That's because it's far harder to jump into something you're no good at, end up having to climb lower grades and fail miserably and the like, because it's uncomfortable. Dave McLeods book taught me that. It's worth reading articles like this and really thinking whether the reason you don't like it is because you know taking it to heart would require leaving your comfort zone.
Roberttaylor - on 28 Jul 2011
In reply to UKC Articles: The author completely forgot to mention checking train/bus times to get to the crag and the basics of using a phone to arrange a lift or partner, clearly essential skills for climbing E1 or indeed any grade at a crag. Once I am told how to do this I will learn to place gear then drop knee.
In reply to UKC Articles: Thanks to everyone for their feedback on the title of this article.

The article is not a 'how to climb E1 article' but a training article for people operating at the HVS to E1, or 6a to 6b+ level.

If you have been following the series, hopefully this is pretty apparent. Also if you have read the introduction paragraph in this thread, on the articles page and in the main article body, hopefully then it gives you a good idea of the content of the piece.

We have a character limit on titles, so that is why only the trad grades are mentioned in the title.

If you are operating at around the HVS to E1 level and are keen to improve your climbing, then I think the training strategy in this article looks sound to me.

There is obviously loads more you can do, and learning trad techniques is one of those things, but these are physical training articles, not trad coaching articles.

Good luck for those operating at this level and keen to improve their physical climbing.

Thanks,

Jack



In reply to Blue Straggler: I liked your suggestion and have edited the thread title.

Thanks.
Al Randall on 28 Jul 2011
In reply to AJM: Against my better judgement I have decided to jump back in as on re-reading I can see that I might have worded things better.

I wasn't intending to be dismissive of the article just casting doubts on the wisdom of advocating some of the techniques at that particular grade and the climbers it was aimed at. Emulating the hand hold movements "a la Neil Gresham and co" seems particularly odd. I can see the benefit indoors where the holds are glaringly obvious. I can see some merit on a hard sport climb where the sequence is critical, the holds limited (and chalked up) but I just don't get it on a HVS. As I said earlier most indoor climbers I have met struggle with finding the holds outdoors never mind re-creating them in mid-air whilst still on the ground.

By the way I have been outside of my comfort zone more times than I care to mention and I am open to new ideas. I saw the benfit of many of these techniques when I started to push things a little on sport but I stand by my opinion that they are less useful on a HVS.

Al
davo - on 28 Jul 2011
In reply to AJM:

> As a more general point, doing the same thing you've always done gets you the same results you've always got. I think that people should bear that in mind before dismissing the article out of hand - it's very easy to get stuck in a nice comfortable groove, doing the same training, climbing the same grades, at the same sort of comfort level. That's because it's far harder to jump into something you're no good at, end up having to climb lower grades and fail miserably and the like, because it's uncomfortable. Dave McLeods book taught me that. It's worth reading articles like this and really thinking whether the reason you don't like it is because you know taking it to heart would require leaving your comfort zone.

Completely agree with the above, training and trying to get better at climbing is often frustrating, uncomfortable and makes you question many of your basic assumptions about climbing. This is especialy true if you have been climbing for a long time, generally climb well, and climb better than most of your peers/friends. Getting better at climbing often means accepting that despite having climbed for years you actually don't always know the best way to improve.

In my opinion the article/series of articles are excellent. Anyone operating at the grades described who wanted to improve would not go far wrong reading and following the training suggestions.

Looking forward to more in the same series...

Dave
strudles - on 28 Jul 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

imo good technique is good technique whether you use it on a vdiff or E*

I don't get the opportunity to climb much trad :( but I know I flag on pretty much any climb, it's a balance and movement thing that saves energy, why thug up when you can use body position.

I clearly remember using a drop knee on an HVS recently (a crack up a groove) to place gear on the crux. It allowed me to almost take both hands off to place a bomber cam! I'm fairly sure a lot of climbers would have cranked their way through to safer ground...
Al Randall on 28 Jul 2011
In reply to davo:
> (In reply to AJM)
>
Getting better at climbing often means accepting that despite having climbed for years you actually don't always know the best way to improve.
>
Yes I agree with that statement and it could apply to me. When I've been in ambitious mode I have even considered coaching. Being coached I mean not giving coaching. I seem to be stuck at 6c at the moment despite considerable effort but deep down I KNOW what I should do. Lose weight, get stronger and make better use of my feet but that's a universal given.

Al
In reply to strudles: I agree. For one thing, ingraining good movement in less stressful conditions helps it to become second nature when things start getting hard (which is personal to the individual climber). For another, making a move efficiently and in good balance gives a sort of kinaesthetic pleasure which I seek in climbing.

My personal favourite example of grade-specific advice given on this forum, is that you don't need to use chalk below E3, unless you're fat. TM Sutty.
Al Randall on 28 Jul 2011
In reply to wayno265: Some would argue that you don't need chalk at any grade. Where have you been hiding, not seen you about for a while.

Al
AJM - on 28 Jul 2011
In reply to Al Randall:

Glad you came back Al, and cheers for the response. With the "hand waving" you may well be right about indoor climbers moving outside, but they weren't necessarily the main (or perhaps only is a better word, not sure) people it was aimed at.

You say you know what you need to do in order to break your 6c plateau. From your previous posts you have said you climb sport in the same way you climb trad. One thing you could consider is making the effort to add that extra aggression in and start climbing more like a sport climber - I have tried to made a conscious effort to go for it more over the past 12 months and have seen great results from it. It's an uncomfy one to begin, because you have to at the very least accept an increased risk of failure (and more likely more actual failures as well as more successes) which is very against the trad ethos. It does get results though, probably a good grade or two for me. I've moved to thinking about success being positive and failure having no real consequence, so it's always worth a try, as opposed to a trad perspective which is often (though not always) that failure does have a negative consequence.

Anyway, that's just a thought.

Andy
Al Randall on 28 Jul 2011
In reply to AJM: You see you say indoor climbers were not the target audience but the article, particularly the pictures, suggested otherwise. The post title change is an order of magnitude better and more in line with what the article is about.

The problem is that at my age (63) it is too easy to get injured. I started the winter last year with the stated aim of on sighting 7a again but never managed to get beyond 6b+. Every week I could feel the strain building up in my fingers so decided to back off a little before I did some damage. As soon as I did that I managed a 6c. The moral being that sometimes you can try a little too hard. I also have a low boredom threshold and find bouldering indoors, redpointing and training tedious at best even though I KNOW that is exactly what I need to be doing to improve.

Al
AJM - on 28 Jul 2011
In reply to Al Randall:

I can't remember what the original title was? Still seems very much in line with the introductory blurb, maybe it wasn't before?

You certainly can train too hard! I was meaning though more the climbing style whilst actually "performing" rather than how hard you push whilst "training" if you see what I mean. It's going for the move you wouldn't otherwise go for, resting only where it's actually a rest, and climbing up or down if you aren't at one, clipping in the best place not the first place, and a whole host of little changes like that which all add up to a generally less defensive climbing style that's more focused on acting to maximise the chance of success rather than to reduce the potential impact of a failure.
Robert Durran - on 29 Jul 2011
In reply to Robbie_Phillips:

Hi Robbie, have you actually climbed an HVS yet? Or even an 8c?
Michael Gordon - on 30 Jul 2011
In reply to Robbie_Phillips:

Funny, I thought I had read past the first paragraph.

I still think that giving someone operating at Severe-HVS advice on egyptians is about the least useful thing I can imagine!
Natty B - on 17 Aug 2011
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Maybe if they took the advice then they wouldn't be climbing Severe-HVS anymore?
mark mcgowan01 - on 18 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

Interesting article.

As someone who would love to get back into trad climbing, I would perhaps prefer to see the categories of sport and trad segmented to allow for more insight into differing training tactics that one may use for trad than sport route training.

My hardest trad route this year is only VDIFF, but i certainly remember the benefits of a massive focus on bouldering on real rock for trad training as one needed to learn how to read and move over the rock. But most of all was knowing you had that compensatory finger strength/power to pull through on your on sight mistakes whilst above gear.

All good...
Blue Straggler - on 18 Aug 2011
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to Al Randall)
>
> I can't remember what the original title was?

It was "Training to Become a Better Climber - HVS to E1", I think - giving a false impression that it was solely about trad climbing at around this level.
freyja - on 31 Aug 2011
As someone who climbs at the grades suggested in the title (both trad and indoors) I found the article very useful. While I was vaguely aware of most of the techniques, it was nice to have them spelled out more clearly. I already had a chance to try a few things outdoors, it made a difference from struggling up to zooming up. Just a thought in response to dismissive comments from some people, but perhaps if your level is much higher it can be difficult to tell what is useful for someone of lower ability? Many thanks to the author for the great series of training articles, I look forward to more!

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