/ Did you get stuck on a grade?

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flopsicle - on 25 Nov 2012
Pathetically I'm stuck at 5a! On friday another climber said that's where he got stuck for ages too so I wondered if certain grades mark more of a change than others?

To add some context years climbing and current grade might be interesting too.

I have 3 years 15 yrs ago and 6wks currently.
Kevster - on 25 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:

I wouldn't call 6 weeks stuck.

Its a long term thing improvement.
flopsicle - on 25 Nov 2012
In reply to Kevster: Sigh.... I'm not exactly chucking the new stickies in the bin or getting chalk dust tear stains, just interested where/if people found a grade harder to beat than higher grades once they whooped it.
Fredt on 25 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:

I've been stuck on 5a for 38 years, but I haven't run out of climbs to do yet.
Kevster - on 25 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:
Hey, you say your stuck, then say its been 6 weeks.
IMO 6 weeks is not stuck at a grade, it is just a few trips and some training. Improvement to start with is rapid but will quickly plateau. Once plateau'd impovement does come, but don't expect it to be as swift as to start with. Ticking something once is different to being consolidated at the grade.
However, to give you balance, my experiences:
Climbing for 15 years

Trad flashed E3 at 9 months in, I then spend a number of years at HVS (by my maths 13yrs) untill this year where I am now getting back on a number of E3s onsight. My ability on sport exceeds this by some margin, so is just a head game improvement.

Bouldering I have dipped in and out of Font7a for maybe 11-12 years dependant on how much I have been climbing at the time. I haven't yet broken the F7a barrier to call myself a proficient F7a climber. But then I don't work at my strength or bouldering as much as I'd require to do this.

Sport: Spent a few years at 6a/6a+ then ticked 7a each year for 7 years, but mostly opperated mid 6's.
3 years ago, upped my game to mid/high 7s RP and for the last couple of years onsight 7a for half my attempts. Indoors I have done bigger numbers, but these don't count.
This represents the biggest improvement in technical ability with a marked grade jump. I don't believe there was an epiphany, just an accumulation of strength, skills and mindset which I simply applied by having the bottle to tie on to the harder stuff for a change.

It's all a head game for me.

To comment for many.
There seems to be an up in the stakes about trad VS, sport 5+/6a is a jump and many find 6b a tough cookie to conquer outside, proper Font 6a is hard too.
English grades I have never found a finite plateau/sticking point. 6a and 6b both cover a large range that saying one grade is quite ambiguous.

Good luck with your improvement. Truely believing you can get up something, unhindered by irrational or even actual fear is often all that is required. But that's the holy grail of climbing.


flopsicle - on 25 Nov 2012
In reply to Fredt: I'm loving it! I do want to improve but the only thing that'd have me offski is if I got bored and I can't see that happening. I really did just get curious when someone else said they found 5a different. He also said it was the grade he started to feel like he was really climbing.

It's just curiosity...
MikeLell - on 25 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle: Have struggled to get past 6b+ indoors and have finally got my first 6cs in the last few weeks. Outdoors I was stuck leading maximum of VS for a long time until I manned up and got on some HVS routes with the encouragement of a more experienced partner. Even lead an E1 soon after that I had seconded the week before.
flopsicle - on 25 Nov 2012
In reply to Kevster: Sorry, I was very grumpy because, while I definitely want to get better and can be a bit impatient it was a more general question.

I like grades because I'm often alone and it gives me a rough idea of problems that'll frustrate the hell out of me but that I can eventually get. When I used to climb in a group the problems just seemed to pop out between us, but on my own, frankly I don't know enough to create things half as interesting.
Howardw1968 - on 25 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:

IF we all went up a grade each month - 6 weeks can you imagine what grades the best climbers would do.

I've recently made it to F6a+ a month ago I did my first 6a's but then the following climb could not do anything above a 5 but this time made two 6a+ but I was doing 5s and 5+'s from summer till october so just practise. I'm climbing indoors twice a week now 1 bouldering session of about an hour and a top rope session of a couple of hours)
Kieran_John - on 26 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle: I mostly boulder indoor at present and I've got stuck on around v5. Still having fun though so it's not an issue :)

GridNorth - on 26 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle: The problem I've got is that I cruise F6a and F6a+ but can't for the life of me manage a F6b on sight at the same wall. I don't get too hung up on ith though because I can climb E2 outdoors and for me that's what it's all about.

John
winhill - on 26 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:

Is that on the problems or the routes?

Bear in mind the grading system at nottingham is english tech and a bit, er, fluid.

6 weeks is a very short time too.
flopsicle - on 26 Nov 2012
In reply to winhill: Both and almost exactly the same, about 50/50. I've found that I'm going back to stuff and might have done it one day then forgotten how, totally. I have busted 2 or 3 that had me stumped, albeit more by practicing the same route/problem. I don't get much roped time though, probably about 1 climb a week 'cos munchkin is there when it's a group. People do make sure I get a go, however it's shoe horned in.

Luckily I really like bouldering!

I guess I'm wondering if climbing is steady or something that has surges in learning and whether skills associated with paricular grades are known for being harder than others to bust. I wouldn't make any difference to a day at the wall 'cos regardless I'd be back picking at a spot till I'd got it, it's just a nice thought that something can click that makes a big difference.

Tim Chappell - on 26 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:

For me it was 8c ;-)
Cake - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:
> I guess I'm wondering if climbing is steady or something that has surges in learning and whether skills associated with paricular grades are known for being harder than others to bust.

I don't imagine any climber finds progression linear (steady). Definitely not in terms of grades, because they in themselves are not really linear (certainly not English Tech). But also, people do get surges due to various reasons. e.g.

-The head game - being happy to fall/ move above gear/ move without full control on a boulder problem.

-Giving everything without hoding back from ANY hard moves.

-Really focussing on technique (doing things efficiently) for a sustained period of time.

-Focussing on strength for a while.

There will be others, but perhaps one of these will jump out at you as a potential weakness. Whether you find something to focus on or not, if you focus on technique you will definitely improve anyway in my experience.

Enjoy,
Cake
Neil Williams - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:

I seem to stick around 5+/6a with some 6a+ but not much above that. I think it's mainly because I need to lose weight.

Neil
ripper - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle: I've been pretty much stuck for years... I think everyone has a natural plateau that their innate level of strength, fitness, balance, bodyshape, headgame etc can get them to, after that progress becomes very slow unless you're prepared to invest a lot more time and thought in following a proper structured training plan instead of just going climbing.
jkarran - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:

UK tech' 5a?

6 weeks hardly counts as pathetically stuck! How many routes have you tried in that time? How many 5b routes have you failed? How did you fail? Are you training?

I got stuck at about E1 from year1 to the present day (year13), I've sketched up the occasional harder route over the years but never stopped falling off a reasonable proportion of E1s. In that time my bouldering ability has crept up slightly, my fingers have got slightly weaker and I've learned to redpoint but there's been no great shift in my trad grade. Cowardice is the main culprit I suspect!

jk
Oujmik - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle: I've been stuck at 5+ on top rope (now known as 5b at my wall) for years, but that's because I've never tried seriously to push beyond it and I'm not a regular climber by any stretch of the imagination. I've started making a few more trips to the wall recently and even though my best on top rope is still 5b I can now confidently lead indoors at 4+ and will hopefully bag a 5a on lead on my next visit. I've also noticed that my climbing has become much smoother. I've also learnt to trad climb, lead a few easy routes and developed a decent base of working knowledge of how to protect scrambles. I even dogged my way up some rather scrappy and very damp F4s on lead in Cheddar one Christmas.

I think what I'm trying to say is don't get hung up on grades and if you feel stuck, try doing something else - I really enjoy the breadth of climbing as a pursuit (and indeed the ability to mix it up with other outdoor sports such as cycling, skiing, walking etc.)
jkarran - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:

> I guess I'm wondering if climbing is steady or something that has surges in learning and whether skills associated with paricular grades are known for being harder than others to bust.

Early on you can get pretty big surges in progress by learning particular approaches and techniques. Once you have that standard toolkit ingrained the progress mostly comes from hard work and gradual refinement. You can still get surges in progress but they're more likely to be associate with changes in mindset (eg getting on harder stuff, trying harder), changes in the game you're playing (eg redpointing, bouldering) or changes in who you climb with that can feed you new ideas and new inspiration.

jk
Kemics - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:

I'm stuck trying to really break into the F7's but I need to get more structured about my training as 2 indoor sessions a week + outdoor isn't enough to really bust Plateaus. It's enough to maintain and slowly creep forward. But I'm sure with more targeted training I could improve much faster. Just there's so much else to do in life I cant make those commitments!

I guess it comes down to how dedicated you.
Flinticus - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to ripper:
I must agree with this.

I've been bouldering v3 & v4 since shortly after I first began, and though my strength has improved, especially finger (suffering a temp relapse after an injury) it has not lead to any major grade jumps. My indoor climbing remains circa F6b+ (a fair few 6Cs but only one 7a, and that felt too easy for the grade (and the fact that I've not repeated a F7a supports that feeling).
flopsicle - on 27 Nov 2012
I feel a bit self conscious that so many responses have been about me and where I'm stuck (or not stuck!). It feels a bit odd because while the encouragement is good I'm not unhappy with what I do at the wall. I would like to get better and do try hard - that's just my nature. But, I don't want and haven't got the time for full dedication, I want it as a hobby, to be fun and both mentally and physically engaging, which it does beautifully.

I used to ride for a living, self taught, inner city kid who got my first break to do it full time through the YTS scheme. Riding involves a metal bar in an animal's mouth, a rider's heels on a horse's ribs. In that sport there's a genuine ethical reason to demand extraordinary dedication and pay in the unfathomable amount of hours daily over decades just to realise all that you still need to learn. In my mid 30's I quit riding as the type of riding I loved with a passion required a level of commitment I no longer wanted, I wanted a life outside, a kid and a weekly non working day.

I guess I feel a bit of a fraud posting in here rather than 'starting out'. I just misjudged it as something people might have encountered that has some general interest. It's been very interesting to me but I hope it hasn't tried too many folk's patience!
Cake - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:

I'm sure no-one has been bothered by you asking such question. I certainly wasn't. And I guess that many of us are a lot more keen on training than you. This is also fine.

As I wrote earlier, even without much commitment, you will probably improve steadily anyway. I would still encourage you to focus on technique as when you move well, it feels great.

But I'm sure everyone will agree that the most important thing is that you enjoy yourself.
rwong9 - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle: I've had tons of injuries, which works well, as soon as you arrive at a grade of your probable limit and pulling hard, you're off injured for a few months, then have to start at the bottom again. In no time at all you are improving week by week until oops there goes another ****. This way I am always improving, never stuck! Only problem is the downtime is frustrating! But on the converse, I cant recommend injuries enough ;)
ashley1_scott - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to Oujmik:
You climb at Craggy by any chance. How you getting on with the change from 5/5+ to 5a/5b/5c.
Ive only really noticed a slight change climbing mostly 6a's, as warm-up routes are a little harder to pick.
Si dH - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:
I got stuck at E2 for about 5 years. I've been stuck at Ft 7a for two, looking to break out of that his winter. I've never really got 'stuck' on bolts, I was at F6c for most of the same time I was at E2, but wasn't doing much of it. I reckon it might take me a while to get past F7c now but that's just a time thing with all the other stuff I want to do...

My main advice would be, stick at it, climb things you enjoy and when you get really stuck for a few months, and have an idea why, then make your life revolve around climbing (that bit's easy right?) and put the effort in to train.
Si dH - on 27 Nov 2012
In reply to Si dH:
To add to this...I think the first 'tough' grade to become competent at is HVS. If you are fit and climb regularly you should crack VS fairly comfortably within a few months. But a lot of HVSs need more skill and also brute strength/stamina.

On a different subject, for me the 'epiphany' was realising how much fitter and stronger I could become through sport climbing, and enjoying regular sport enough that I ended up doing more of it than trad for long periods. However this only applied after I'd been trad climbing for a number of years - I wouldn't have got such a benefit any earlier.
Oujmik - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to ashley1_scott: Yep, Craggy. Not really noticing much difference. Last time I was there I completely failed on two 4+s which I thought were total sandbags until I saw someone else go up them with relative ease, but then later on I climbed a really crimpy 5b when I thought I was too knackered to do anything... so with that variation in my grade I don't think the extra 5c will add much for me!
Banj - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:
> I feel a bit self conscious that so many responses have been about me and where I'm stuck (or not stuck!).

Don't. The variety of answers here has been good reading, answering questions that I had never fully formed about my own progress.
I started climbing late in life and have done something like 300 top-rope routes since I began a couple of years ago. I started off climbing 5 and 5+ with my (experienced) climbing partner coaching. I soon progressed up to 6a and have not progressed much further on my own. I have climbed the odd 6b and 6c, but here's the odd thing. I often find 6c routes that I can climb cleaner and with less trouble than certain 6a routes. Apart from the fact that I sometimes go for weeks without climbing and lose condition, I feel that the way routes are rated doesn't adequately take into account personal strengths and weaknesses. My contact strength lags far behind my core and upper body so if a route's 6c rating is all about overhangs and reachyness and power, I'm usually OK but give me a 6a, so rated for crimpyness and pinchyness and I really struggle. As far as balance and weight management goes, my body climbs much better when somebody who knows what they're doing calls the shots. If my belay partner is silent, my climbing ability drops a grade ...
ripper - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle: In reply to GridNorth: absolutely, grades shouldn't and can't cater for individual strengths and differences in style, but as you gain experience you'll find this doesn't matter - you'll just know you have more chance of success on a hard (for you) balancy slab/jamming crack/thuggy overhang/whatever because it plays to your strengths. and vice versa.
GridNorth - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to Banj: No grading system can or should take into account individual strengths and weaknesses. Indoors I lead everything as I find this gives me a better idea of grades for comparison. I also climb better. The trouble with a top rope is that it gives more assistance than you might think. Sometimes it's quite obviously very taught but even when it is not even a fairly slack rope can help both physically and mentally. The only way to judge a climb is either by leading or having a very, very slack top rope.
RockSteady on 29 Nov 2012
In reply to flopsicle:

Yep, got stuck at about F6b for onsights for about a year and was stuck at below F7a for redpoints for about a year and a half (i.e. tried quite a few and didn't tick them before having to leave them alone).

For me, focusing on technique and 'training' (i.e. doing a certain amount of volume or difficulty of climbing) at the climbing wall less than 'performing' (i.e. ticking maximum hardest routes) at the climbing wall pushed me through this barrier.

Up to that point I found it easy to progress. However, pushing myself to make progress in the early days of my climbing I felt contributed to a low grade of plateau. Additionally, in my first year or so of climbing I spent way too much time top-roping indoors, so I got a bit of an idea that lead climbing was (a) a bit dangerous and (b) something only to move onto when already strong at top roping. I also ingrained some bad technique habits that I later had to spend time breaking.

If I had my time again I'd learn to lead climb asap, take lots of practice falls right from the start, and focus from day one on climbing with good technique. I wish I'd read 'The Self-coached Climber' as my first 'how to climb' book.

You're not stuck at a grade after 6 weeks climbing, you just haven't climbed enough to improve past that point yet. If you think about it, you've got to build up a repertoire of movements to deal with various situations encountered, and build a basic amount of strength to perform those movements. To get this you need time.
Banj - on 29 Nov 2012
In reply to RockSteady:

> If I had my time again I'd learn to lead climb asap, take lots of practice falls right from the start, and focus from day one on climbing with good technique. I wish I'd read 'The Self-coached Climber' as my first 'how to climb' book.

Yay!! I've never read a climbing book (Very strange that it never even occurred to me as I spend most of my life with my nose in one book or another) I did a quick Amazon search and came up with several different books with related names, did you mean: The Self-Coached Climber: The Guide to Movement, Training, Performance? Also, I'm guessing I should get an actual paper copy on the grounds that it probably has illustrations and photographs that will be lost on Kindle, what do you think?

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