/ training to lead E2 in 6 months - advice please

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kp64zl - on 24 Nov 2013
Planning a trad trip of a lifetime at the end of May 2014, and would very much like to be able to lead E2 consistently.

I've been "out of training" for a number of years, so would like some advice about how I get myself in best condition!

I've climbed for 24 years -- in the mid-late 1990's I was confidently leading E2 (mostly Pembroke & Scotland), occasional E3 and seconding E5's / and up to 7a+. Now in my mid-40s

Since then I've gradually climbed less and less -- I've done more mountaineering in my spare time, & of course more work & family commitments. Rock climbing between 4 and 6 times per year over the last few yrs, happily leading VS & the occasional HVS (Peak Grit, Snowdonia). Inconsistent climbing wall training, but generally fit as I cycle every day.

So, I'm after some tips on how I can get myself back towards my previous form over the next 6 months, without injuring myself. I've a good climbing wall nearby....



GridNorth - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to kp64zl:

Climb at least 2 times a week, 3 is better. Mix your sessions between pushing your grade and getting loads of mileage in well within your limit. Intersperse this with bouldering. Personally I would avoid specific training aids like finger boards as it's easy to get injured and IMO not really necessary for E2. Build up slowly.
JamButty - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to kp64zl:

I've been similar to you, perhaps a grade lower, but I've found over the years whilst my technical ability is very quick to recover, my stamina, finger strength and bottle above gear is well behind where I used to be.

So I'd suggest as already mentioned - get on lots of grades around HVS/E1 perhaps pick some pumpy ones to build up that strength, then push grades a bit more once stronger.
highclimber - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to kp64zl:

I find after a long lay off, my protection placements become slow and it takes time to het slick at placing gear. Being able to place gear efficiently will mean you have more energy to tackle the climbing with confidence.
AlanLittle - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to kp64zl:

I was in a similar position when I went to Wales in September - used to climb trad E1/2-ish in the 90s, didn't climb for over a decade, sport climbed again for a couple of years at around 6b/c

... then went on The Strand and got totally spanked. Forty minutes and thirty metres up, I was within sight of the belay on huge jugs, and just couldn't hold them any more. You simply don't spend forty minutes on a pitch when you're sport climbing - especially not if you're redpointing ten to fifteen metre things in the Frankenjura, which was most of what I had been doing prior to Wales.

Not sure what the answer to this is. What you need to be good at for pumpy trad is (a) holding strenuous positions whilst placing gear without burning out, (b) not pissing about on the actual doing of the moves.

The latter is largely a matter of trad confidence / mileage / headgames, since the actual moves on something like The Strand are trivial if you're sport climbing a couple of grades harder.

The former I guess you *could* train by deliberately climbing very, v e r y slowly & statically at the wall, but you'd need a patient belayer.

In any case don't make the mistake I did, of assuming that climbing short, sharp sport routes a few grades harder converts to being able to hang on and place gear all the way up a forty metre trad pitch. It doesn't.
LakesWinter on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

Nah I've got to my current level of the odd E2 or 3 and any E1 I try at the moment through climbing once a week. Now I'm trying to push on I'll step the intensity up I think. I totally agree with the thing you said about finger boards
Jon Stewart - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to kp64zl:

This sounds very easy to me.

You've been climbing for 24 years and up to E2 before, so you're entirely competent and don't need to learn any new skills.

All you need to do is top-up your fitness with loads and loads of laps at the wall. In 6 months you can go from huffing and puffing up a 6a+ to doing laps at 6b, no problem. Once you're doing laps on 6b, then on normal rock types (i.e. stuff with holds and gear, rather than cracks or unfathomable 1-move gritstone nonsense) you can climb any E2 in the land, since you already have the trad skills.

I would do some indoor and outdoor bouldering over the winter too, as for E2 you need to be able to pull the odd sandbag 5c move every now and then, so it's useful to be regularly climbing 6a or 6b moves (so bouldering up to V3/4).

What I don't recommend is going down the wall and aimlessly doing routes around your "onsight" limit. It's pointless. It trains short bursts of difficult climbing which have nothing in common with trad. You don't need power endurance to climb E2, you need stamina. (And you certainly don't need ineffectively trained PE, which is all you get from indoor "onsighting".) You need to be able to hold on to decent holds while you faff with gear and summon up the courage to climb something that's actually quite steady, so long as you're not pumped.

Could you go climbing 3x per week? If so, you could go for a really effective plan where you focus on bouldering for a bit while keeping the stamina ticking, then focus on the stamina while keeping the bouldering ticking? The wall twice a week would do it, with a few weekend bouldering trips which are really fun anyway if you pick the right place and people.

Good luck, I reckon there's absolutely no reason you shouldn't be climbing E2/3 in 6 months (on sensible rock types) if you want to. And bear in mind that my suggestions will not help you climb grit - nothing does.
Jon Stewart - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to AlanLittle:

> Not sure what the answer to this is.

Laps down the wall. Works well for stuff like Pembroke and Gogarth (although much of Gogarth is a bit more odd and takes confidence on strange, soapy rock more than anything).
wbo - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to kp64zl: You sound very similar to me. You are going to need to go to the wall a bit more and work when you're there. You're cycling , so that should keep you fittish, but you have to be honest if that's the case or if you're going to need to push it a bit. Weight falls into the same 'be honest' category.

One thing - you are goign trad climbing. How often can you climb thro' the winter, with long days on easy ground? This will have the benfit of geting you fitter and being you used to being above gear and setting up , breaking down belays

Jon Stewart - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to wbo:

> How often can you climb thro' the winter, with long days on easy ground?

Never, I would imagine. Long days? I live in Sheffield and even then the coincidence of getting weather suitable for trad on a day when I'm free is approaching zero


> This will have the benfit of geting you fitter and being you used to being above gear and setting up , breaking down belays

Unless the OP is unemployed and really likes being freezing cold, there is no way he'll get out often enough to have any impact on fitness or headgames.

I reckon in winter, the best thing you can do for your trad climbing is go bouldering. You can get a lot of the buzz of trad too if you pick the right crag, but without the standing around freezing your tits off and spending an entire day doing about 20m of climbing.
AlanLittle - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> What I don't recommend is going down the wall and aimlessly doing routes around your "onsight" limit.

You just described my usual "training" programme with alarming accuracy

Jon Stewart - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to AlanLittle:

> You just described my usual "training" programme with alarming accuracy

Haha. Although doing laps sounds really boring, I find it way more enjoyable than going to the wall and deciding: shall I do the yellow route that's pretty easy really, or shall I fall off (or more likely grab a nearby jug) at the same place as last week on the pink route?

You just go and get stuck in, and get really sweaty and tired, you know like proper exercise.
henwardian - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to kp64zl:

Get outside climbing as much as you can. At the VS/HVS level I would say that most people are held back by lack of confidence moving on rock (vs lots of confidence moving on plastic) and/or fear of falling rather than a lack of strength. If possible, get out on rock with someone who is climbing E1/2/3 and get some experience seconding these routes so you feel a bit more comfortable on that kind of terrain and get used to what to expect. When you have done a few days out like this, try and lead a few (safe) routes at this level, probably starting out with the ones you seconded before so you are putting another step in before you have to man up to your on sight attempts.

If somewhere during this process you really think to yourself "man, I just can't pull hard enough to do these moves", then maybe indoor training is needed but even then, I would still give preference to climbing on actual rock when you have time and just hit the indoor wall in the winter evenings when it's cold and dark and climbing outside would be utterly purgatorial.
Jon Stewart - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to henwardian:

Have you noticed that it's the middle of winter?
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kp64zl - on 24 Nov 2013
In reply to kp64zl:

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. Most appreciated, and will help give me focus.

Alas, I'm not unemployed so time is very much a limiting factor. Climbing wall near my house but nearest decent rock over 2hrs drive.

The Strand is high on my tick list!

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