/ How good without training ?
Now I'm just your average old punter who over the last year has been climbing a lot at an indoor bouldering wall near Brighton in Sussex. I started doing it as I can't get out and do as much trad as I'd like (what with family and living in Sussex).
I now really enjoy it and am lucky enough to climb with someone who is proper good.
I go between two and upto five times a week - although 2-3 sessions is usually enough.
All of the sessions I do are hard and last on average 3+ hrs.
Recently I have got to the point where I can flash most 5b/c problems (and the occasional 6a)
Generally I can get up a lot of 6a/6a+ (and sometimes slightly harder) after a bit of work.
My question is this - how much further do you think I can go without any structured training or changing diet etc. I still feel that I've a couple of grades in me just by my improving technique/ route reading/ strength - it's all still going in the right direction but not now with the massive advances that I used to get.
I'm talking Font grades (not french)
Are these indoor grades? With that much frequency and given how long you have been climbing you should be improving still unless you are being a real idiot in how you structure your sessions. However why ask when the gain will be bigger with a better diet and training?
Yes I think you'd go higher from 6a. I personally found I plateaued indoor at 6c and it took a lot of outdoor and variations in rock type to break that. I'd be interested to see someone who has risen through the grades entirely indoor and where they trained at i.e. you'd need a fantastic facility to support this. My local centre focuses on the 6s. There are a bunch of 7s and that's really it, so not much scope for improvement beyond the mid-sevens. I think it's as much about the environment you're climbing in.
I got up to font7b/+ without any training, so around v8-v9. But I do think it depends on body type, previous activity and other stuff. This does dictate whether you achieve this quickly or over a a long period of time.
Yes indoor font bouldering grades. Sorry are you saying that the gains will be bigger with diet/training ?
What I'm trying to get at is roughly how much further could I go without having to worry a) about diet - which I don't think I can or really want to do and b) without structured training - which again I don't really think I want to do - as I like just going and climbing and trying (and solving) new problems.
Indoor bouldering has taught me loads about technique and body position. Obviously as soon as it stops raining I shall be getting some trad miles in - mostly peak based.
No don't get me wrong - my main thing is trad, and indoor bouldering is training for it - as I can't get out and do trad nearly as much as I want I go bouldering indoors as that's about all we have.
All I am aiming at (before I get too old) to to be pretty solid HVS/E1 leading. So I am pretty sure that I just need trad miles - which I try to get in amongst family and life commitments.
I have never trained in my life. I peaked at f7a and E4/5 when I was in my 50's. I'm 65 now, still cannot abide "training", and can usually manage f6b+ sport, indoor and out, and E3 5c trad.
Brilliant, thanks that's really interesting to know - so my goals are very realistic then - I only want E1 trad so quite doable then ? without having to cut out the beer ;-)
I see that you have climbed HVS. To be honest E1 is not a million miles away and I know some E1's that are easier than many HVS climbs. You need to get out more on trad though as the psychological elements play a far bigger part. I know plenty of people who seem to stroll up 6c indoors but are reduced to VS when on trad. Another trick is to pick routes that play to your strengths while you build up confidence and then start to consolodate at the grade.
Mark, as ever, you already know the answer:
'So I am pretty sure that I just need trad miles...'
Without training/diet, I'd suggest you'll probably peak at F6b+/F6c onsight. You've got a pretty good head on you. You don't need a load of 'sport grades in reserve' for E1.
Get out a bit more, if you can. (And don't think E2 is out of the question. With a good summer, you'd be running up them.)
It's impossible to say how much you could improve. The bad news is from your described efforts you're not developing as fast as average. The good news is part of this will be age and weight and you still always seem really keen ( which is way more important in climbing than performance). Of course training and diet will help you make improvements faster but require time, discipline and sacrifice. Do you want to just enjoy climbing or do you want to climb and get better? Either way there is enough out there for someone keen for many lives.
Hi mate, once the weather gets better perhaps you could use some of your evenings to climb on southern sandstone (that's what we did when living in London), and the extra experience you'll gain on real rock can only help for trad.
I climbed up to F7A and E4 with no training strategies or diet but lots and Lots of mileage.
Indoors and out.
Edit: was supposed to be in reply to cider.
Yep cheers mate, gonna start doing that as soon as it gets dry - always shied away from Sandstone as I always got spanked on really easy stuff - but I gather that's the same for everyone ;-) Also it's gotta be good training for grit (rounded holds).
Cool so I don't need to give up curry and beer in order to get my E1's (and maybe 2's).
Look forward to seeing you up at Stanage as soon as Spring gets here (hopefully I might be yelling hello from the top of the link or congo corner).
Me too. Except I did some stamina training before doing the couple of soft E4s. There was the odd little spell of finger boarding after bouldering at the wall, but it didn't cause any leaps forward in grade (think I'd already climbed F7a by then, not sure).
I really enjoy just climbing, but I do want to get to low E's - according to my mate I'm going ok - but it's just outdoor mileage I need - which is tough in Sussex and with a family.
Cheers Mick, hopefully will catch up soon for a pint or two (after climbing of course). As I think I said my mate Ben who I do most of my climbing with now was/is a really good sport climber. So we will give you a shout when we go to Portland.
Also really good news is that Ian is really Keen again so gonna drag him up some Swanage classics.
I also still have one of your snap gate krabs.
Southern sandstone can be great especially as it's such a treat to climb on rock, on a weekday. Yeah it can be hard at first, but that's good, if you can climb 5C on southern sandstone you won't have any problems elsewhere.
I know it's not easy but we used to go up to the grit for the day all the time. Also there's swanage, Avon and stuff too, which is closer.
I think the main thing really is to get out on rock as much as you possibly can, though that's easy for me to say. I would advise upping your mileage when out on the grit by getting warmed up by bouldering and soloing (e.g. on Stanage there are loads of short walls of around 6m with routes up to VS which are perfect with a pad). If you do say 10 little routes, a few boulder problems you can do in a couple of goes and a hard boulder problem, as well as 2 or 3 proper leads in a day, that will up the milage of easy moves and get you climbing 5c/6a on grit boulders which is what you want to be able to climb 5b confidently with a rope on.
If you think that warming up involves a rope and rack, you're wasting a lot of time at the crag (for someone wanting to improve that is). (Also, if you don't bother warming up, that's equally poor use of time).
Jon has hit the nail right on the head. If your climbing on grit for the day aim for 10-15 routes, even if well below your grade. You'll learn lots especially about the subtleties of moving on rock and rapid, quality gear placements.
I remember meeting a guy who made loads of journeys to Stanage, with the ambition of climbing Right Unconquerable and eventually he scraped up it. In those trips he could have climbed 100 VS's and then onsighted Right Unconquerable. Would have been much more fun too ;)
Agree generally but, in Mark's defence, Swanage is his local crag. Subluminal's virtually the only bit of it where you can kind of get away sans rope/rack. And, even then, not at all the same as having the Rusty Wall routes wired. A place to be ever so careful.
I think some of you are missing the point. If I'm reading the OP correctly he wants to know what his chances of improving are just by climbing more. All this talk of bouldering and making the best use of time smacks of training albeit it somewhat casual.
Until relatively recently, I'd never 'trained' but I had climbed between 2 and 5 times a week. At my peak, I was climbing up to 7c+ on indoor routes and 7a+ onsight outdoors, and bouldering up to 7b. I've never even thought about diet but do eat healthy anyway. I now climb about once a week at most with frequent gaps of a week or two, and really notice a lack of fitness but can still climb font 6C and have managed the odd e2 on the rare occasions I get to do trad. I'd say you have a very real chance of getting solid at
E1 just by getting the mileage in.
I'm a similar age and ability to you, and I absolutely will not train. Hate it. I've got far less trad mileage than you, and I've led a few E1s now. I think the big difference is Southern Sandstone. I get on it whenever I can, and I've gradually got up to managing a few 6a there. After that, leading E1 is easy as long as you choose one with good gear. So, my advice is get on the Sandstone when you can ( sometime in April if it stops raining soon :-( ). If you persist you will get the hang of it, and may even enjoy it like the rest of us Sussex weirdos :-)
I'm confused. What's climbing 6b+ indoors if it's not training?
Some people climb indoors for fun. You may not understand this, but it is true.
Yes, my advice was grit-specific. I don't warm up at Gogarth etc by soloing!
Well strictly speaking I suppose it is but my approach is not structured or regimented in any way so I just view it as getting mileage in. Training to me suggests something that is different to the main activity. I just climb and it happens to be indoors out of necessity.
If your diet isn't good change it. You'll climb better and feel better.
I'm sure you can keep improving at font 6a without doing deadhangs/campusing etc. if you have excess weight to lose then running/diet is going to give you big improvements.
Maybe try a bit of training that's more focused around actually climbing. Things like bouldering 4x4s/circuits. Even trying to to a range of problems on angles/styles you feel are your weakness will bring improvements. Lock off for 10/20 secs per move on easier problems perhaps, would simulate placing gear somewhat...
As for hvs/e1, mileage just below those grades will bring you more progress than cranking on plastic, many routes of that grade are based around technique rather than strength. Not saying plastic isn't going to help, just that you shouldn't choose a day indoors over one out and about!
Also - bouldering out is your friend. It'll make those crux moves simpler and you won't spend a ton of time trying to read them halfway up a route.
Personally V8 so far without training, though I'm a route climber (don't train for that either)...
without knowing what your work is ... I'd say quit your office job and do something physical. Jobs in construction, landscaping, tree surgery etc have got to help your general fitness
Maybe just do shorter bouldering sessions, say 1.5hrs, but try harder problems? And also make a few trips to Font, it's easy for the weekend if you're in Sussex. That will help your technique a lot.
Short (2hr) session today - Smashed a tough Font 6a+ so I'm really really happy - it's all going in the right direction :-)
< Sorry Mark, just couldn't resist! >
Right Direction - up - 3,2,1, I'm back in the room. Looking forward to a climb and buying you a pint - it's been too long :-)
I think there's a really useful book / article / something to be written on "training for people who don't like training" - ie stuff you can do while still ostensibly "going to the wall and climbing a series of routes" that'll make you get better faster. Stuff like practicing technique during your warmup, or being aware of what sort of thing is good for strength or power endurance or whatever so you can make sure you get a good mix over a few sessions. I sort of try to do this, but in a bumbly self-taught way, and it'd be good to see advice on the subject someone who actually knows what they're talking about.
I think a Scotsman wrote something like that.
I'll give another vote for getting spanked on the sandstone, or if you'd prefer, try some stuff that is in theory beneath you and get up it enjoyably. Rock mileage is so important for improvement at any grade. Are evening summer sessions or half days feasible outside your full rock days (which seem to be fewer than you would like)?
Also, if you enjoy trying boulder problems at your limit, then I would say you enjoy training. You can improve a good deal doing what you're doing. But one thing I would say is that when you get on the likes if Congo corner make sure you try hard and if you fail the onsight get it ground up. Doing the hard moves will make them come naturally in the future. Of course, you won't get the full tick, but you'll get better and an E1 crack may fall in your lap because of it at a later date.
Thanks, mate - interesting what you are saying about blowing the onsight, as that's exactly what I did on Left Unconquerable - got the ground up in the end, but after quite a few air miles !
^^Excellent advice. Font is the greatest teacher of technique. The first time I went someone had to tell me move by move how to climb the problems otherwise I couldn't get off the ground. The last time I went I could climb at my normal grade, because I'd learnt how to climb properly.
Advances do get slower the better you get but you can keep advancing for a long time if you do it right.
Indoor bouldering is probably the best form of training for climbing there is. It's hard to say how far you will advance because there are so many variables.
I'm a really weak climber when it comes to bouldering but I still got up to V8 (f7bish) just spending by the winter at a good bouldering area (Hueco Tanks) - no structure, just going out and enjoying climbing - though I did a have good base of technique from route climbing to draw on.
I suspect you might be limited by where you climb. I'm guessing the Brighton wall, not being in a popular climbing area, probably caters for lower grade climbers. I've only been once and that was more for the kids so I don't know. Expectations and being surrounded by a lot of very good climbers can make a surprising difference.
If you want to improve your technique I'd say just watch lots and lots of bouldering videos on Vimeo and Youtube of top boulders in action. There are tons of these things. Gradually try to integrate the way they climb into your own climbing.
I don't think there's any point in thinking about how far you can advance because without trying you're never going to know. Expect and plan to get better over time. You're even going to hit plateaus some times but that's OK as long as they don't persist for too long. Once you get a range of ticks at one grade you can start thinking about breaking into the next grade up.
The main things that stop climber's advancing are:
1. They don't push themselves hard enough.
2. Not climbing on a regular enough basis
3. Injury (which leads back to 2)
How far do you want to go without training? Firstly, I think it's clear that at the level you're climbing that you could progress massively from mileage and improving technique. No disrespect but the actual physical strength required at the lower grades is minimal. Sure, someone over-strong could probably climb a 6A with poor technique and use a lot of unnecessary strength but a 6A should be able to be climbed easily with good technique (imo).
Personally, I'm at 7C boulder 7c+ routes (but I hardly climb routes) and that's with no training but that's with a lot of indoor bouldering session per week and I push myself hard. Usually I'm trying stuff that will take me sessions of work to climb and I use warming up and warming down to practice technique ('the self coached climber' is a really good book (with supporting videos) for understanding the movement of climbing. Now I'm assuming that you have no desires to climb the grades that I am and therefore the answer is no, you don't need additional training.
What I would say to climbers who are operating in the mid-high 6's who have been climbing a couple of years and want to progress into mid 7's and higher is to do some training. Little and often. I haven't and if I could go back in time I would have. As you climb harder, finger strength is more important and this can only be improved over long periods of time. I had my glory days in the first few years where everything seemed to be going well but there comes a point where all the technique in the world can't help you if you aren't strong enough to hold on! Get your fingers strong, train in open-hand and half crimmp positions (stay away from full crimp to avoid constant injuries) and keep your core strong. When I get back off of my 9 month climbing trip I'm hitting the training room. Hard!
Good luck everyone.
You should be able to get into the early E-grades and mid Font-7s without too much physical training but it really depends upon you personally.
For me I've always been generally quite fit and strong as I've always enjoyed being active in one way or another. Strength and fitness are not my limiters with climbing, it's my mental approach, and I'd say – in my experience talking to others – that it's the same for a lot (define 'a lot') of climbers. I'd say that as long as you are working your weaknesses then you will continue to improve, if you don't then you will stagnate. If that's training then so be it but I'd say it's just getting in the miles and gaining experience.
To answer your question, I think you need to define 'training' and 'structured diet'. If you are overweight and have lousy footwork technique and have a goal of climbing a steep route with a crux in a horizontal roof section then 'training' would be focusing on your footwork technique to improve it for that situation and your 'structured diet' might mean shedding a few pounds with some cardio and less fat intake. In that respect training and structured diet would improve your chances of achieving your goal. Otherwise I think it's too generalised.
you should be able to do E4/5'S with just climbing,more if you climb lots
Elsewhere on the site
2012 saw the release of the beautiful first volume of definitive Yorkshire Gritstone climbing, produced by the YMC with Robin... Read more
The Women's Mountain Equipment Cho Oyu Jacket is the perfect choice for female mountaineers an explorers who... Read more
If asked to name a British female climber who stood out at a time when British women's climbing wasn't... Read more
The Kendal Mountain Festival 2014 proved once again to be a busy and inspiring four days of films, photos, music, art... Read more
Backpackers want an extremely liveable and lightweight tent at good price. MSR answers the call with the Elixir 2 tent and... Read more