/ The importance of diverse climbing experience
I'm a relative beginner (hence the forum this is placed in) although I learned to climb long ago. An enforced break due to a mobility condition saw me away from climbing but recently I've returned and am fighting to improve despide the limitations imposed on me by my condition.
So, that said, here's the question I want to discuss:
Will it improve your climbing significantly if you deliberately expose yourself to differing styles of climbing?
While this question may seem to have an obvious answer I know a few people who stay top-roping or only climb indoors or only boulder and they seem to climb perfectly fine within their chosen discipline. I, on the other hand, started to branch out from indoor tope-roping to bouldering to seconding trad routes to even (gawd help me) attempting easy outdoor solos in the belief that by diversifying my skill-set I may be able to climb around my mobility limitations.
It's very much early days for me so I wanted to ask others on the forum how they felt about the potential gains and pitfalls of trying different styles of climbing when they hadn't yet mastered any given discipline and whether anyone had experience of how trying different styles has helped/hindered their climbing progress.
I think you've mostly answered your own question here. Specific training can lead to good improvements in a specific area. However, only climb indoors and you may find outdoor routes tricky, especially grit/sandstone/granite etc. (less so some limestone...) Only boulder, and you'll lack the stamina to do many routes.
It rather depends what you want from your climbing. I like diversity and visiting and enjoying as many different venues as I can - others are happier specialising.
If your goals are spread across several disciplines then you'll struggle to achieve them (assuming they're ambitious goals) by focusing on just one narrow facet of your climbing.
Some types of climbing, bouldering for example benefit little from cross training in other disciplines, trad for example. The same is not true the other way around, bouldering can really help your trad climbing... so long as you're actually doing plenty of trad climbing as well.
Ultimately it's just a hobby, do what you enjoy. If you apply yourself to doing that you'll make progress and figure out how to work around whatever is holding you back.
It all depends what your aims are. Some people get hooked just on improving in indoor bouldering, the buzz is the achievement of making progress. For other people the buzz is about being up in the mountains and for them, competence with ropes, route finding, dealing with iffy conditions etc is what they focus on developing.
Personally, I like trad, especially on sea cliffs and the mountains, and I've found that to develop the skills I need to climb the routes I want to climb, that's not going to happen just by climbing those routes (sadly, I can't spend my whole life climbing on sea cliffs, or at least I choose not to). Bouldering (indoors and out) for finger strength and technique, and doing laps on indoor routes for endurance have been really helpful in building the physical resources to climb the routes I love. Experience is the only way to actually use those resources on a stressful trad lead though.
Knowing what you want to get out of climbing is the first thing to suss out, and that could involve trying lots of different disciplines to see which is the most rewarding for you. Once you know what you want to develop, you can get stuck in.
This isn't a put down of people who only climb indoors but I'd say:
1) Outdoor climbing seems to me to have a lot more scope for getting enjoyment out of climbing without having to climb hard or push your grade, as a result of the scenery, the sense of space and exposure, and the different situations/rock types/people you may encounter.
2) Only climbing indoors limits your exposure to types of climb such as chimneys, slabs, cracks and aretes.
Generally you'll be best at whichever discipline(s) you climb the most but there are specific gains to be had by mixing it up a little, like DWS gives you a good mentality for running out trad gear, falling off sport routes gives you more confidence in trad runners, bouldering gives you the power for a tricky crux. Goes without saying it's all about trad at the end of the day
> This isn't a put down of people who only climb indoors but I'd say:
> 1) Outdoor climbing seems to me to have a lot more scope for getting enjoyment out of climbing without having to climb hard or push your grade, as a result of the scenery, the sense of space and exposure, and the different situations/rock types/people you may encounter.
> 2) Only climbing indoors limits your exposure to types of climb such as chimneys, slabs, cracks and aretes.
3) indoor climbing only leads people to think there are coloured holds outside and there are clips already there.
So far my own experiments with indoor bouldering and outdoor traversing/bouldering is certainly improving my ability on verts/slabs both indoors and outdoors. I'm finding my foot placements more accurate and my ability to spot potential moves improving. Not to mention the obvious general fitness gains.
As I gain more experience we'll see where this takes me.
As an aside, I'm also finding that exposure to many different climbers is also helping. My own close group of friends climb differently to the members I met from the KMC who climb very different again to some of the people I've met from UKC or at indoor walls. It seems the more I'm exposed to the more likely I'm able to fin some technique that works for me, working past my own inherent limitations.
I did think that the old adage of 'jack of all trades, master of none' may apply here but I suppose that sort of thing wouldn't kick in until you got reasonably good at all-round climbing anyway.
Oh, and yeah, at least one of my group is a little intimidated by the outdoors because "there's no colours to show you where to go". I jokingly offered to take some chalk and mark out some holds for him :)
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