/ Grades. If you were 64 years old....

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GridNorth - on 01 Jan 2013
...what would you consider to be a respectable grade to climb at on trad and sport? The more I try the more it hurts and I'm considering if I should accept my limitations, swallow my ego, and just enjoy what ever I can do and not put myself through the pain of trying too hard.
Jamie B - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

I'm pretty sure I've heard of 8a and E5 being climbed by sixty-somethings, but that's a pretty rarified level at any age. I doubt if anyone achieves those grades without a certain amount of pain, how much of it is down to age is hard to guess.

I suspect that everyone's experience is going to be different; we're all going to age in different ways and some of us may find ourselves more restricted than others. Luck of the genetic draw to some extent, although I guess we can help by looking after ourselves long-term.

I've never entirely understood the term "respectable" with regards to climbing performance. Whose respect are you seeking?
Fraser on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

How long has the 64 year old been climbing, and how frequently?
GridNorth - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to Jamie Bankhead: What stupid wording on my part, which of course only I can answer, what I really mean is what would others in a similar age bracket consider respectable for themselves.
rtwilli4 - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

I've always said that I wanted to be able to climb 5.10 (E2) forever. It is a life goal of mine to be able to onsight at least mid 5.10 for a very long time. But I am 29 and my starting point would have been very different from others. Some days I feel like I won't even live to be 64, so who knows what will actually happen if I make it there!

Grades are not important. Sure they are a way to evaluate your progress and keep motivated, but it is really up to you what you think is respectable. Where I grew up, there are A LOT of areas that open up if you can climb 5.10 trad. Maybe where you climb that grade will be different, or maybe that doesn't matter to you.

If you are climbing at age 64 you are WAY ahead of 95% of people that age and most younger people as well. I know plenty of 34, 44, and 54 years olds who can't walk up the stairs w/o getting winded.
Fraser on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

Your body is right, you can't expect to climb like you were 20 again.

My climbing partner and I had a 2:1 session with Steve McClure at the start of the year and discussed training and improvement plans. His advice was very specific to our current abilities and ages. I'm now 49 and have been climbing for almost 17 years.

Steve recommended not climbing more than 3 times a week, and emphasised being fit and maintaining that fitness and specifically not getting injured. At our age (and presumably more so at yours) rest and recovery is almost more important than the actual time spent training. If you make sure you make the most of your training sessions and use your time efficiently, there's no reason why 3 sessions a week isn't sufficient to continue to improve.

You've not mentioned the levels you currently climb at, or if you boulder so this will probably influence how you might best seek improvement. The older you get, the more suited your body will become to endurance routes rather than shorter more powerful ones. It's a gradual decline in men I believe from their mid 20's, but don't quote me on that. There are several really decent training books out there and I recommend you try some of them. 'The Self Coached Climber' and '9 out of 10 Climbers' are probably the two best known. I suppose it also depends on where you want to improve; is it trad routes, sport routes or bouldering? You have to tailor your training to suit your target(s). From my experience, most climbers don't really train, they just climb - admittedly sometimes a lot - and assume it's the same thing. It's not. If you really choose to apply yourself and are serious about it, there's almost certainly no reason why you can't improve. A word of warning though: you do have to be ready to embrace the boredom and a certain amount of short-term pain ;)

I'd also strongly recommend doing what I did and have a personal session with a decent coach, it'll be money well spent.
GridNorth - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to Fraser: I won't train, I'm too lazy and undisciplined thats why climbing appealed to me. Back in the 60's you just went and climbed. I don't boulder either although I have been known to do a little between climbs or to occupy myself while not having a partner. I currently climb F6b+ indoors, although it can be hard to judge as the grades are all over the place, and could probably manage an E3 on trad. What with New Year and all I'm trying to decide if I should try a little harder this year or content myself with what I can currently do. The thing that's a little hard for me is that I feel like a "punter" by todays standards and yes I admit it my ego is taking a hit. :-)
johncook - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth: I am 63 and currently lead 6b/+ indoors (6c at some walls with soft grades) and TR 7a+. Outside I lead HVS 5a trad, with the odd selected E1. I am in my 7th year of a comeback after a 22 year layoff for stupid reasons. My aim this year is indoor lead at 7a outdoor at a fairly consistent E1 with selected E2. The important point is that I only lead routes I like the look of and will enjoy, I am not leading for the numbers. I have outdoor days where I may do 20 or so routes with nothing above HVD/S, because that is what looks good. Some of these low grade days have been among the best of the year. There are a lot of routes that are great lines that I will need to improve to lead, but they are good lines worth the effort.
I think I am trying to say. Climb what you enjoy and enjoy what you climb, and don't let the numbers influence you too much.
jon on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

I'd say push yourself - but gently. No-one likes comfortably running along on tick over.

For me it's very important to enjoy the climbing - the movement - in the moment and not in retrospect. Trying to on sight things that are just a little too hard for me gives me no pleasure at all. I hate climbing into positions where I'm all wrong handed, lurching from one mistake to the next, shaking with the effort and risking injury. Work the routes to death then execute them perfectly! Unashamed maximum beta is the way forward.
dek - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
Keep fit, and it's all a mind game. I know a few guys around that age, who regularly climb grade V/VI in winter without any fuss...... Their wives probably wouldn't be happy if they knew though!J
Fraser on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

Ok fair enough, training is out, but I have to say it sound a wee bit like you want your cake and eat it too ;) But seriously, I'd have thought with a bit of focus and not much 'proper training' you could get to leading F7a in a year if not less. A trad target would be a bit harder to pin down as the route styles could vary lots, and it depends more on how good your head is in potentially stressful situations. I'd have thought that 3 decent, focussed sessions a week could get you leading 7a, as long as you're not too inflexible or overweight.

I like jon's suggestion that "Unashamed maximum beta is the way forward."

Rog Wilko on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth: I'm not 64 - more's the pity. My advice is don't beat yourself up about grades or about being "respectable". You're certainly too old for being competitive! Do what you can and enjoy it, and make it just challenging enough. And if you enjoy clipping bolts somewhere warm, that's absolutely fine. Some people give up climbing because they can't stand dropping their grades. Now that's really sad.
shark - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
jon on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to shark:

Yeah, but what did Dylan ever do...?
johncook - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to jon: on grit!
jimtitt - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
Im not 64 quite yet but Id expect to be a couple of grades down on my peak. Unless of course I give up the beer and cigs and decide to take climbing seriously then who knows:-)
We were climbing with Rustie Baille a few weeks ago and hes still handy enough in his 70s.
I like climbing - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> ...what would you consider to be a respectable grade to climb at on trad and sport? The more I try the more it hurts and I'm considering if I should accept my limitations, swallow my ego, and just enjoy what ever I can do and not put myself through the pain of trying too hard.

Strange question. If you want respect and you don't think you are achieving what you should you have to train in a focused way to get better. Why is it important to you to reach certain grades ? What does it matter ?
ice.solo - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

You will get more 'spect climbing HVS with a 19 year old DWS pin up belaying than you will doing E6.

At least in my books.
Gordon Stainforth - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

Well, I'm 63, so feel quite well qualified to speak ...

Your first huge mistake is to see climbing grades as static; the real truth is that your grade will change from day to day, and, of course, when you are young/starting out, it will be improving virtually day by day. So your question, straight away, is very odd. Almost the kind of thing a non-climber might say in their ignorance.

Let's step back. Why on earth are you talking about grades? Is that really all climbing means to you? Even more baffling: why on earth should anyone be having to explain what climbing means to those who climb.

If you substitute the question 'what would you consider to be a respectable speed to read?' for your thread, and follow the absurdity of that through, you may perhaps get a gist of what I'm on about ...
Gordon Stainforth - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

Anyhow, to get back to your original question, 'what would you consider to be a respectable grade to climb at on trad and sport?' Well, there quite literally is NO respectable grade to climb on 'at sport'? The question is so artificial that it just leaves you gasping for any kind of intelligent answer. Trad is a horrible word. Let's just call it adventure, which, thank goodness, is as strong as ever.

Obviously, any young, keen, fit climber nowadays will be leading VS quite early in their first year, and be doing quite badly if they haven't got to HVS or E1 by about the end of the year. I would think that most fit, keen, dedicated climbers would be pecking away at around about E2/E3 at the very least in their second year (approx equivalent nowadays of HVS in the mid-sixties, when I started).
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GridNorth - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth: Blimey there's some pretty serious, moralistic, arrogant and "put down" answers for what was just meant to be a light hearted chat. Come on guys lighten up. :-)

GridNorth - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: What an odd response. You belittle my intelligence and the question, suggest that it is not worth asking then come back a second time to not answer it again. Personally I just ignore threads that I do not like rather than ranting at the poor innocent sole that posted it.
Gordon Stainforth - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

Sorry. I'd probably had a bit too much vino (had been at a NYD party all afternoon) ... But it's still a v difficult question to answer/hasn't really got an answer. The reply I eventually gave was really only meant as a very, very vague guideline - and I'm sure no one would be able to agree at all on this.
Fraser on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
>
> Well, I'm 63, so feel quite well qualified to speak ...

Not necessarily, it just means you're 63.


Best not post after midnight, those are two of the most inappropriate, unhelpful and pompous posts I've read in a long time.
nbonnett - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

As U know there's no reason why you cant climb at a level you did 20-30 years ago , its the amount of Paineze tablets ice baths and rests in between ripping your body apart that count

So if you climbed 7b/E5 before there's no reason why you shouldn't now.

Main thing is enjoying what you do, not how 'ard things are.
Gordon Stainforth - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to Fraser:

I've just apologised for it.
deepstar - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth: I am a mere 61 and would rarely agree with Gordon Stainforth but I think he is right about achievable grades changing daily.I have never been a high achiever grade wise but in the end the only person that should matter to is me.Enjoying your climbing is much more important than grades.
Fraser on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Just saw that. However, as I was writing mine it hadn't been posted (I was toning down my own), so my apologies for my comments seeming to come in after yours.
Trangia - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

I'm one month short of my 69th birthday and have just got back into climbing after major surgery in Oct 2012. I am comfortably leading 4s and 5s indoors again, and looking forward to getting outdoors in the Spring when I anticipate leading long multi pitch trad routes in the V Diff to VS range.

I would say that I am delighted to be back climbing again and the sheer enjoyment of being able to do the sport vastly outweighs chasing grades.
Gordon Stainforth - on 02 Jan 2013
I no longer climb because of failing eyesight, which is directly related to age. I know many people who no longer climb because quite minor age-related problems mean that they no longer enjoy climbing as much as they did.
GridNorth - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth: For the record I don't "chase" grades, well perhaps a little when I'm climbing indoors, but that's only because I want to climb harder and consider that as good training and the grades provide a measure of progress. That is the context of my question. I get the most satisfaction from climbing extremes. It's not ego or bravado I just happen to think that they provide the best positions and moves with the right amount of challenge and therefore the most enjoyment. I don't care what others think in any serious type of way but I am interested to know other peoples exeriences and views in this regard when they are interesting and constructive and not arrogant and sarcastic. I don't understand posts like that, they demean the forum. If you don't approve of something ignore it.

Gordon, apology accepted. I'm sorry to hear that you are no longer able to climb.
ice.solo - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to Trangia:
> (In reply to GridNorth)
>
> I'm one month short of my 69th birthday...

f*ck me, i always assumed you were one of the mid-30s crowd.

`spect.
pebbles - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth: "The more I try the more it hurts" Isnt that true at whatever age? no gain without pain etc! I'm going to list "too old" in my list of get out clauses to deploy alongside "too short" "got a hangover" and "frictions bad today" ;-D
GridNorth - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to pebbles: Yes but it gets progressively worse. I was fine in my 50's but felt a definite change at around 60. Hitting the actual 60 just added a degree of physchological baggage. Deploying the "I'm getting too old for this" ploy just enforces the negative feelings so will try to avoid that this year. I consider myself very lucky apart from a few aches and pains in the joints I'm in good health. I have to tape up a couple of fingers but other than that the thing I find the hardest is standing up from a kneeling position. :-(
In reply to GridNorth:


Over the years it seams to me (as a general rule) climbers who are good when they are young are good when they are older (assuming they don't pack it in) and those of us who are mediocre when we are young.......


Chris (62 and still bumbling!)
pebbles - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth: my attitude is warped by having been a very lardy and inactive 20 year old! so my experience has been of getting fitter as I get older. Plus I feel that at my level technique and head games are far more of a limiting factor than physical strength is going to be :-)
GridNorth - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs: Agreed, up to a point. After all it's all relative isn't it? I was climbing routes that get a grade of E3 now back in the late 60's. I never thought so at the time but looking back that is quite a "respectable" achievement for that period. These days I think you are considered a "punter". By the way you are selling yourself short, you were no slouch back in the day when I knew you.
Robert Durran - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth) What an odd response.

Indeed. I can never understand why some people seem to think that achievement/pushing your grade is somehow incompatible with all the other joys of climbing.
Robert Durran - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

My observation is that once people start using age as an excuse, they tend to give in to it and go into terminable decline. Having said that, you need to be realistic about recovery and injury prevention. I know plenty of inspirational climbers still full of energy and enthusiasm in their sixties.
Jim at Work on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: Agreed! And I plan on being one of them! I'm 63 and no way is age an inhibition, that would just be so sad.... I've always been a low grade bumbler, led VS/HVS in the 70's, lead VS/HVS now (but I've only been getting out about twice a year). I'm retiring shortly, and if it ever stops raining I have quite a few fabulous routes on my bucket/tick list. OK, so they will be HVS/E1, though Left Wall is a distant ambition, but I can't see anybody sneering at my grades. So to GridNorth: get over it mate, and as several have implied, if grades rather than enjoyment are your motivation, well.........
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GridNorth - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to Jim at Work: Get over what? Perhaps you are not finding age an inhibition but I am finding increasingly hard on my fingers which ache for days after doing fingery indoor routes. To date it's just slowed me down, I have to know when to stop, but it's not affecting the grade I climb at. I climb F6b+ and E2/3 but I don't seem to be able to improve on that. That's why there is a limit on how hard I can train. If I upped my sessions to 4 times a week I might improve a little but it could equally trash my fingers so I feel caught between the rock and a hard place. Pun intended :-)

It's worth mentioning that I want to climb harder because it opens up new rock for me, not to boost any ego. I've done most of the good climbs in N.Wales, the South West, the Peak and Lakes.
HB1 - on 02 Jan 2013




In reply to GridNorth:
. . . What with New Year and all I'm trying to decide if I should try a little harder this year or content myself with what I can currently do. The thing that's a little hard for me is that I feel like a "punter" by todays standards and yes I admit it my ego is taking a hit. . .


. . . I'm sure we all start the new year hoping to climb well, often and interestingly. I'm older than you, and as I wrote in a recent thread I missed climbing 6c at 63, but quite like the idea of aiming for 7a at 70, and know that to achieve such a target I'll need
to "train" more than I want to (will do), so probably that's out. But at the start of the year much seems possible, and there's always that possibility of settled dry weather spreading over all climbing areas from early on (which is usual) until October (fat chance!). Personally I want to keep up my standard at least, and post 60 that's realistic enough, aches and pains willing, anything more is a bonus, but not vital to my enjoyment.

As for your ego, and your apparent dread of being recognised as a "punter" I can only say you must climb on some devilishly hard rock with hard-nosed types all pointing their fingers at you. I've climbed with people of all ages, and no-one who's climbing at E4 plus, and with only a handful upto trying E3s on occasion. E3 is NOT punterdom in my book!
Jim at Work on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
Fair enough & I do sympathise with that - I get niggling injuries if I train for 2+ times a week! Seems to boil down to wanting to get better at our age - perhaps there's more scope for me there!! Maybe climbing better will have to mean something other than climbing 'harder'? Good luck anyway, and make the most of the active time you have.
Jim at Work on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to HB1:
Amen to that!
GridNorth - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth: No one is calling me a punter and I don't really care what people think I was just interested in others perspectives.
Ava Adore - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to GridNorth) No one is calling me a punter and I don't really care what people think I was just interested in others perspectives.


Punter!


Sorry. Someone had to. :-)
shark - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

> Perhaps you are not finding age an inhibition but I am finding increasingly hard on my fingers which ache for days after doing fingery indoor routes.



On a more practical note stop or reduce the amount of fingery indoor routes you do ! It probably isn't even the best way to train.

Other ways to train to maintain or improve your grade could include steeper routes with larger holds, weights, diet, yoga spring to mind. Think creatively about ways to work around your limitations.

Also are you an inveterate crimper? Varying your grip to open hand stuff can spread the load.

Final tip - after climbing try soaking your hands in a sink of warm water. That can alleviate joint and tendon pain. Works well for one climber I know
Toerag - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth: Hasn't someone called Paul Dawson done F8a in his 60's recently? It was in the DAV magazine news column.
Martin Hore - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

Dear GridNorth, If you're 64, don't train at all, and lead F6b+ indoors and E3 outdoors, then either (a) you're quite exceptionally talented, (b) you were once climbing at a much higher grade than this and still have the residual ability or (c) you belong to a different species than I do. I don't think anyone's going to deny you respect.

I'm two years behind you (62) and around two grades behind you. I still enjoy my climbing immensely, but I'm under no illusions that I will be able to maintain this standard without training. Currently I do approx 3 sessions per week, either indoor climbing or pull-ups when I can't get to the wall. Fortunately I'm now retired so I've less problem finding the time.

Realistically, some time in the next ten years I'll probably have to accept that I can no longer climb all the routes I used to do. I'm almost deliberately saving up some "Classic Rock" ticks for when that day arrives. I still hope to be enjoying it whatever the grade, and with at least a good helping of "self-respect" whatever anyone else may think!

antique_al - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth: As a 64 year old three years back into climbing after a 15 year layoff which included a serious (non climbing) shoulder injury and a life threatening illness I was pleasantly surprised to find myself still able to climb (indoors) at the admittedly modest level i was at before. Even more surpised to find that I continue to improve on a couple of sessions a week without training although now getting close to my physical limit at 6b+ ish although still slightly ahead of my 35 year old climbing partner. Outdoors the body remains willing but the 'bottle' is seriously depleted! I have settled for seeking new challenges within my ability and just enjoying what I can for as long as possible. Agree with previous posts that overdoing it physically and risking injurey (recovery times are getting longer and longer) is the biggest threat. Have recently found a lot of satisfaction is seeking out new (very easy) routes on minor, usually unused local crags. I take the view that in still climbing at all us oldies are still a fairly exclusive club as regards the general population!
Mac B - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

I am 71 and still climbing at my highest grade - V Diff (and Alpine PD).

Hope this makes you feel good.
deepstar - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to Mac B:
> (In reply to GridNorth)
>
> I am 71 and still climbing at my highest grade - V Diff (and Alpine PD).
>
> Hope this makes you feel good.

It makes me feel good! I`m 61 and if I can be climbing V diffs in 10 years that will do me.
tombeasley - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

Wow, just read all the posts and feel inspired, you guys are all climbing strong and well in your sixties and seventies, I'm never going to moan about my age again.

Just set the goals you want to achieve this year (routes not grades?) and get out there.

I hope that I can be climbing as well and keen to get better / set goals in 30 years as its what I get enjoyment from.

Good luck!
KiwiPrincess - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

I know a few Older people thatr climb. One lady i met was Onsighting 7a easily, She was still really fit and retirement meant she had heaps of time to travel and climb.
Realistically most older climbers slow down a little, But people climb in 70's and 80's so 60's are young
Do what you feel happy with, Enjoy climbing and the rest of your life find a balance where You don't hurt but still feel challenged.
full stottie on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

A view from another mid-60's climber:

1. I'm very happy that I'm still able to climb regularly in my sixties, and I still enjoy it immensely

2. Most of the time I kid myself that grades don't matter, but sometimes, right day, right time - they do and I try a bit harder

3. Despite occasional lapses of caution, its fear of injury that affects how hard I push myself nowadays, because things take longer to heal and I don't fancy long lay-offs - I've had a few.

4. Amongst my 'super vet' acquaintances, some are cranking very hard indeed, the rest of us are happily bumbling along in the 4's, 5's and 6's, and having fun between VDiff and VS. Falling off at these grades is more painful than a spidery dangle at the Grande Grotte, hence point 3 above.

Egos are hard things to swallow though, but if you succeed, they'll leave by another exit, and that's a relief to savour!

Happy climbing!

Dave

Pekkie - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to full stottie:
> (In reply to GridNorth)
>
>> 'Despite occasional lapses of caution, its fear of injury that affects how hard I push myself nowadays, because things take longer to heal and I don't fancy long lay-offs - I've had a few.'

Exactly right. As a coffin-dodging, grumpy, overweight old bumbly (64 on Sunday!), I find that anything over about 6c generally involves twisting of the upper body and inevitable injury with a long lay-off. And the self-denial required to get back down to a fighting weight just isn't there any more.
>
>

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