I'm relatively new to climbing, only started on an indoor wall less than 18 months ago at the grand age of 45, have climbed outdoors a few times since, up to HS trad second and 6a sport outdoors, only lead trad to Vdiff or top roped HVS, I'm not very strong, but I have visited a few indoor walls and thought it might be useful if newbies and bumbly's like me would like to feedback on what they would like to see at their local indoor wall to help them develop.
For instance, one indoor wall I visit has a short 8m wall top rope, but to do the 13m wall you have to lead so newbies effectively can't do the 13m wall and get a sense of height early on.
Other walls I visit only have '6' grades on a lead with the quickdraws in place, what about learning to lead on a 4 and just get the basics of leading in your head?
I'd also like to see more 5's / 5b's on top ropes in situ indoors with quickdraws in place so folk can practice leading while on a top rope and lead rope system ... maybe that's just me, but I'd be interested in hearing what other newbies would consider would help them from moving from top rope to leading indoors?
I go to lots of walls and am asked for feedback but generally think that they want feedback from experienced people, not bumbly's like me. Yet I like to use indoor walls to develop, so comments please from others who are in the same boat, wanting to learn to lead... I know it's not the same as outdoors, I'm asking what would help newcomers learning curve indoors?
In reply to Lobsbelow: There is a simple explanation for most of your questions - in short, really easy lead climbs are inherently not particularly safe and walls are just being sensible and prudent in not providing them.
In particular, falling off slabby or vertical (as opposed to over-hanging) routes of any grade, always poses the risk of injuries due to the leader swinging back into the wall and/or hitting large holds when falling. Most often, this just results in minor bruises and grazes but it can be more serious. High-quality dynamic belaying combined with the climber pushing away from the wall in the event of a fall will mitigate much, if not all of the risks. However, novice climbers/belayers greatly exacerbate the safety issues of non-overhanging routes due to the climber being less likely to fall under control, being more likely to get the rope twisted/tangled but most importantly, being far less likely to belay expertly.
The safest routes for novice leaders are either very gently overhanging lines with medium, but not excessively large holds or steeper lines on more massive jugs. In practice that generally means routes of grade 6 or harder. Setting objectively safe lead routes around grade 5+ is possible but trickier. At even easier grades it effectively becomes impossible.
I am a professional climbing coach, and if someone isn't climbing grade 6s with ease on top-rope I would not coach or instruct them in indoor leading, because at most walls I would struggle to do that effectively with a sufficient margin of safety. That is not to say I wouldn't have them practice clipping skills at a relatively early stage, but there is nothing to gain (and very much to lose) in getting people on the sharp end of a rope when they still have much scope to develop basic movement skills and technique.
It may not be the answer you want to hear, but climbing walls generally know what they are doing and are looking out for their customers' safety by discouraging and/or preventing low-grade climbers from leading.
What wall are you climbing at? Some climbing walls are a lot better than others in this respect, but to be honest all of the major walls will be keen for feedback from anyone, no matter what level you're climbing at.
Also as Mark has said, unless the bolts are very close, you really will be safer on some nice long routes.
The new awesome walls in Sheffield has a perfect beginners area with loads of very easy leads at all different angles and the bolts are nice and close together. Then there are some nice easy long routes in the main climbing area.
It's a shame when walls do that - I guess that some walls might suffer from lack of space and go down the "all leading is in the higher grades" route?
Here in London at least some of the walls have lower graded leads. The Westway has a few leads at grade 5 and 5+, as does the Castle (although I don't know what's going on with castle grades, they always seem off ) and the reach has climbs you can lead from 4+ or even a couple of 4s because they allow mixed top-rope/lead lines (just pull the top rope to the side if you want to lead it).
As a beginner, I've found this very useful The above walls are obviously happy to set lower graded leads - which for trad, are more similar to what you'll be climbing outside anyway!
In reply to Mark Stevenson: "there is nothing to gain (and very much to lose) in getting people on the sharp end of a rope when they still have much scope to develop basic movement skills and technique."
Do you think? I disagree.
I started leading when I was in the 5s and rubbish at overhangs (still am rubbish at overhangs, to be fair), and to me it's a completely different game - more of a "head game" than a physical thing. It adds another, entirely different dimension to climbing.
Big Rock, the Pinnacle, Redpoint and Creation all have lead routes with 4s and 5s on them (Big Rock had a 3+ at one point, I noticed this when I bashed my foot on one of the holds when falling off the other route on the panel). If I'm getting knackered, I enjoy a well-set easy lead, particularly a corner climb, even now (though I'm still not that good - I can now do most 6a and some 6a+ but very little above that).
Edit: Actually, Big Rock has a 2 on a panel with clips for leading. Though people don't often lead the 8m "top-roping" walls as there's barely any point, they're too short to be worth it. The only bit without them (though there are bolts there for future expansion) is the slab.
 Seconding is more physical effort, as you have to hold on longer with one hand to get a clip out than put one in, or certainly I do!
 This does back up your safety point, though I wasn't injured, it just woke me up a bit. I wouldn't deliberately have someone do falling practice on such a route, but people starting out leading tend to want to climb stuff well within their capability and *not* fall off - so why not let them?
In reply to climbwhenready: "It's a shame when walls do that - I guess that some walls might suffer from lack of space and go down the "all leading is in the higher grades" route?"
I think it's better when walls don't strictly segregate "this is a lead route and this is a top-rope route", but instead put double lower-offs on most routes so a rotating selection of them can have centre top ropes, and you can still lead a route with a centre top-rope on it without pulling the rope down and possibly putting it back incorrectly.
I know that can't work on massive overhangs, but most beginners aren't wanting to climb massive overhangs. And not all of us (particularly those of us who are a bit heavy) want to climb them at all.
As far as indoor leading goes, over the longer term, you will only ever be a genuinely good climber (both in absolute and relative terms) if you are genuinely comfortable with falling off.
What prevents many people from achieving that is having poor experiences of falling off, especially early in their climbing career, and getting bruised/bashed or grazed.
This is also for most people a very asymmetric process. A 'poor' fall (or backing off) generally damages someone's confidence far, far more than a 'clean' fall (or successfully going for a move/clip) will boost their confidence.
That is the reasoning behind my feeling that indoor climbers are probably better avoiding leading until they are in the position to lead harder routes where they can almost always fall-off with impunity. That will hopefully mean that their initial (and on-going) experiences of falling off are all completely positive and they do not develop any mental barriers they subsequently need to work hard to overcome.
>  This does back up your safety point, though I wasn't injured, it just woke me up a bit.
You may disagree, but I think that sort of slightly awkward fall, whilst it may not obviously dent someone confidence about leading, it is not a positive experience and is a valid reason why overly easy routes with massive jugs on lead lines are better avoided.
> If I'm getting knackered, I enjoy a well-set easy lead
These days I don't tend to do that. I really want to avoid getting into bad habits and specifically 'backing off' moves or clips when I am leading so when I am tired I find top-roping much better for maintaining the positive 'go for it' attitude that I want to develop/maintain. If you can still lead really well when knackered, you are doing better than me.
> there's barely any point, they're too short to be worth it.
I completely agree about short (8metre) routes. In fact, in line with the whole theme of only leading when you can actively re-enforce positive performance, I don't think you gain much if any from leading on short walls. Doing 2-3 reps of short lines on top-rope is likely to be far more useful training.
"These days I don't tend to do that. I really want to avoid getting into bad habits and specifically 'backing off' moves or clips when I am leading so when I am tired I find top-roping much better for maintaining the positive 'go for it' attitude that I want to develop/maintain. If you can still lead really well when knackered, you are doing better than me."
Might be a psychological difference between us there. I see your point about bad falls (and I am nervous about falling, I admit) but to me a lead that goes well and is an enjoyable climb even if it is low-grade does leave me feeling positive.
Big Rock's resident route-setters (and guests) are quite good at easy routes (=big holds, generally) but which still make you think, which does help. I suppose some walls do just randomly bolt some jugs on and call it a 4, I guess.
Another shout for Awesome's walls, both Sheffield & Stockport. But now the season is definitely open- get outside as much as possible!! If you have odd times free then give me a shout- I have ridiculous amounts of free time & love getting out with anybody nice (by my subjective standards!!). I don't climb hard, but I am a keen & busy bumbly after some fun & going home in one piece (tho often with bleeding knuckles; poor technique & short for my weight!!). Nik
I understand what you are saying, having seen some nasty accidents in situations you describe, I've seen people hitting holds on a fall indoors on a lead and smashing bones or falling off less than vertical grade 5 outdoors sport and coming to a bit of grief, so I don't underestimate what you are saying. I guess I'm like alot of people, all enthusiasm and wanting to go!
But your corrective rings true to me. I climb 6a's indoors , pushing/ nearly there 6B on a good day but that's a good day, not my 'level'. Sometimes I fail on a 5b. So I need to climb maybe 6B indoors consistently? If so I'll work on that.
I do like to practice leading, just the clipping in, and I only ever do that outdoors way below my climbing level (trad) as I want to stay safe and like to climb another day and learn more!
It is the answer I want to hear, that's why I asked, I'd rather be safe than sorry...
To me it's all good learning to ask on here, I don't mind if the answer is that I have to be better than I can currently do
I do see Mark's point, a friend of mine nearly had his foot amputated falling off an' easy lead' and then I saw a nasty accident on a 5 sport in Costa Blanca on an easy lead ... maybe that's skewed my judgement
anyway, just asking for advice. I get that anything under a 6 is likely to hit nasty holds / ledges and undulating rock on the way down.
I've led with a top rope / lead rope system, that seems to help my head so maybe I'm asking for more indoor walls to have both a top rope and quickdraws in place so folk like me can learn to lead on two ropes while having the re-assurance of a top rope while I work out what matters in stances while I clip in?
In reply to Lobsbelow: That'll suit us both. I think as many walls as possible should have a dual snapgate/screwgate lower-off at the top to allow for there to be an in-situ top-rope *and* the route to be leadable.
Doesn't work for steeply overhanging routes not suitable for top-roping, but it should work for everything else. And if a wall only has steeply overhanging lead routes, I think they need some others
Will bear that in mind, might have some time easter holidays. Pm me so I don't forget! I like bumbly routes and just practising / workshop days and being safe. Don't mind shedding skin on knuckles, I like crack climbing / jamming and feel ok with it ... wish there were more indoor routes to practice that, but that's another topic!
I've only just started on the overhang routes, I'm properly rubbish at them. I don't lead them ... obviously... I get someone else to do that then I have a go at seconding. I'm working on it ...
I know I can't always rely on others to do that for me and I'll have to learn
I don't think indoor walls are suitable for bumblies, whether novices or experienced. I understand the safety arguments that Mark Stevenson puts forward, but even as a very experienced lead climber I don't want to climb steep or overhanging routes - I find them too strenuous. I don't aim to climb routes like that outdoors and I'm perfectly happy with that. I don't have the time or the inclination to train to overcome that, and I'm perfectly happy with that too.
The problem walls have is that they want to attract a lot of novices so that they can provide instruction and they will become future customers. However what they really want are people who treat the wall as a gym, as a training facility to build up strength and get into the higher grades. They don't cater very well for the intermediate climber who is not a complete novice but who doesn't want to exhaust themselves on steep overhanging routes.
The answer is to go outside, where there are plenty of lower-grade routes. Of course the same arguments about falling off and hitting stuff still apply, so don't fall off.
"The problem walls have is that they want to attract a lot of novices so that they can provide instruction and they will become future customers. However what they really want are people who treat the wall as a gym, as a training facility to build up strength and get into the higher grades. They don't cater very well for the intermediate climber who is not a complete novice but who doesn't want to exhaust themselves on steep overhanging routes."
Walls make big money off kids' parties and the likes. But I don't so much agree that they (the ones I use) don't cater well for intermediate climbers (I'd consider myself one of those). Big Rock has slabs, corner climbs and there are usually 5+/6a routes on the lead walls including overhangs (as well as a couple of very easy ones). I only tend to find myself running out of stuff when the setting shifts towards bouldering during the annual bouldering comp.
The overhangs themselves are also mostly quite high up, so even though I'm crap at the actual overhang bit, I can still lead the 8m up to it, have a go and if I fail I've still done a decent climb.
> The overhangs themselves are also mostly quite high up, so even though I'm crap at the actual overhang bit, I can still lead the 8m up to it, have a go and if I fail I've still done a decent climb.
You raise quite a good point about the related issues of both wall design and route setting. The best combination for safety is potentially routes that get slightly harder, the higher you get, as well as slightly steeper. That way, if you are going to fall, you are more likely to do it well away from the ground and not on vertical terrain.
I am a big fan of walls that are just off vertical and very gently overhanging, unfortunately I do find them rarer than I'd like. Many walls seem to alternate between plumb vertical lines and steep overhangs which I don't think is ideal.
One of the better walls in this regard is UCR in Bristol. The original and generally gently overhanging plywood design there seems to have stood the test of time extremely well. Unfortunately I find the design of many other walls leaves a lot to be desired in catering for the widest range of climbers.
> Walls make big money off kids' parties and the likes.
Exactly. They usually have a very easy top-roping slab for these and beginners. They then usually have some top-roped 4s and 5s, which may be slabs or vertical, perhaps with some overhangs to get past, and maybe one or two continuously overhanging.
However when it comes to lead routes, for safety reasons these are often vertical or overhanging. Where there are a few 4s and 5s they are often not very interesting, not changed very often or are tucked away in a corner.
What walls really seem to cater for, apart from the beginners and kid's parties, are the steep overhanging routes, and these are usually in the ts or above. While the easier of these are often on big holds to compensate for the overhang they're still quite strenuous. Of course if you want to train to climb overhanging stuff they're ideal but I just want to do recreational climbing. I find there isn't much lead climbing at the grades I want to climb (up to 5+) and the top-roped routes often aren't very interesting. This is why I very seldom climb indoors now.
In reply to Howard J: "However when it comes to lead routes, for safety reasons these are often vertical or overhanging. Where there are a few 4s and 5s they are often not very interesting, not changed very often or are tucked away in a corner."
This is really not the case at Big Rock, nor at the Pinnacle, nor at Redpoint. Maybe we're just lucky, but all three of those (and probably others) have plenty of the kind of lead route in the 5s and low 6s for me to lead, and they often set some quite interesting 4s as well (that's genuinely challenging to do). They also have slabby lead routes - I wouldn't like to fall off these, but they are there, and can be very enjoyable.
When it first opened Big Rock did have an issue with "nothing below the 6s" in the lead area, but following feedback this was very quickly corrected and they've never fallen back into it. The XC at Hemel Hempstead had the issue when they first opened too, but I haven't had chance to go back to see if they have corrected it.
Although I respect your concerns, especially as a guide with higher requirements on duty of care I think you might be overstating safety concerns a little on vertical terrain or shorter walls and not saying anything about occasional problems that occur on steeper terrain especialy where angles change from gentle overhang to roof where climbers can swing in and contact. It also seems to me that it's perfectly possible to set steepish overhangs on jugs at 5 unless your idea of 5 is much harder than mine so it doesnt sound anything like impossible to me.
Different walls have different characteristics, obviously, and it depends on the route setting. There are 4 walls in my area, but admittedly I haven't been to any of them for a while. One in particular has some massively overhanging main walls, and while there are a few 5s and low 6s I just find them strenuous and exhausting. Last time I went (admittedly some time ago), most of the lower-grade routes were tucked away on the short walls around the back.
Even the 'steepish overhangs on jugs at 5' which Offwidth mentions are just bloody hard work unless you're fit and strong. Technique, and low cunning can help, but to a great extent they largely depend on being strong enough. Yes, if I went more often (and lost some weight) they'd become easier, but as I said before I don't have the time or the inclination.
As my logbook demonstrates, I'm a bumbly recreational climber. I don't climb indoors much because I've come to the conclusion that none of the local walls have much to offer me, and I don't enjoy it. It's not climbing, it's more like going to the gym. However outdoors I can find plenty at modest grades to enjoy. I'd urge other bumblies who are having a similar experience indoors to bite the bullet and go outside (I realise of course that for some that is not possible on a regular basis).
> As far as indoor leading goes, over the longer term, you will only ever be a genuinely good climber (both in absolute and relative terms) if you are genuinely comfortable with falling off.
Please, please tell me you meant to put the word "sport" between "good" and "climber"!
Your whole post seems to be sport-focussed. For example:
> I really want to avoid getting into bad habits and specifically 'backing off' moves or clips when I am leading.
Since when was have the judgement to know when to back off a move, and the ability to do so, a "bad habit"?
I seldom sport climb outdoors - it's really not my scene. But I regularly use indoor walls for training, top-roping for fitness, or leading to help develop a steady "trad head". I avoid falling off when leading wherever I can - down-climbing to the last bolt is the skill I need to develop for trad. If the route's likely to be too hard, I'd prefer to top rope it.
Fortunately the walls in our area have plenty of opportunities to lead in the 5's and easy 6's.
Quite simply, mountain routes aside, sport climbing generally starts at a pretty tough grade because it's reasonably safe due to the use of bolts. The majority of sport climbing in Europe starts at grade 5 (I'm not sure 5b actually exists btw if using the the original French Sport Grades). 5 and 5+ are considered easy routes, and the starting point before the grades open out from 6 onwards, where a/b/c each with a + fraction can be applied.
It's simply the nature of the game.
You could draw parity to bouldering which starts at V1, which is actually reasonably hard if you relate it to other disciplines of climbing, but grades can start hard because the consequence of failing is falling onto a mat, much the same as falling onto a bolt whilst sport climbing.
My suggestion would be to top rope some harder routes to build some strength and then try leading 5's which should feel reasonably easy by then.
In reply to Lobsbelow:
Sorry to highjack your thread briefly but...
This is the problem with climbing in the UK; people learn the ropes on easy routes, whereby they're placing gear which probably isn't going to help them, and offers a false sense of security. Lets face it, if you fall on a VD, due to the less steep nature of the terrain, regardless of whether you've got gear in, you're probably going to break your neck (slight exaggeration). Where as perhaps the way to learn how to lead more effectively and help your climbing from the off is to; second harder routes with friends until you understand the gear placement, technique etc but also have the strength to start on something a bit more steep, where if you actually fall the protection will do its job. In turn you will probably also progress more quickly through the grades because you'll have started climbing at a harder grade, and that's all you'll know!
> people learn the ropes on easy routes, whereby they're placing gear which probably isn't going to help them, and offers a false sense of security. Lets face it, if you fall on a VD, due to the less steep nature of the terrain, regardless of whether you've got gear in, you're probably going to break your neck (slight exaggeration).
Sorry, but this is simply nonsense.
I accept your point that if you start on harder stuff you'll climb harder stuff, that's self evident. However a large number of climbers, perhaps the majority, never climb harder than VS and manage to do so without getting hurt.
I'd imagine there would have been, but don't forget that trad grades also consider how well protected a route is. I'd try leading a 6a sport route, I do lead 6a indoors, I wouldn't currently try leading E1.
In reply to various: Indoor lead climbing is a fantastic sport; launching yourself upwards on a well-set route in search of success or glorious failure is a great feeling. It just seems a shame that the general tone of this discussion and others about indoor climbing invariably tends towards the negative: "I am nervous about falling, I admit"
"can't work on massive overhangs"
"I don't climb hard"
"not my 'level'"
"bumbly routes and just practising"
"I just want to do recreational climbing"
"find them strenuous and exhausting"
"I avoid falling"
Modern indoor climbing is a superb sport meeting the classic Olympic ideal of 'Citius, Altius, Fortius'. Although in that sense, every time you are doing it properly you fall off. Runners/cyclists/rowers/swimmers etc. at every level will 'sprint for the line' whether in training or competition. It is part of the raison d'etre of the whole activity. For indoor climbing the equivalent is falling off. If you aren't falling off then you are not participating in a sport, you are doing something else.
In nearly all sports, participants generally spend the vast majority of their time in low intensity 'practice' or 'training' rather than 'competing' or 'performing'. That is perfectly natural. However, in other sports, nearly all participants, even novices, willingly embrace the essential competitive imperative of their chosen activity. However with indoor climbing lots of people have an active lack of engagement with the activity as a sport. Some treat it as recreation. Some treat it as fitness training. Some treat it as a substitute for outdoor climbing.
If people are not particularly bothered about getting better at indoor climbing, that is their prerogative. However, reading various opinions on this thread and others just depresses me. There is almost a complete lack of any sporting aspiration or real enthusiasm by people to improve.
Where this all stems from I don't know, but we do have this crazy situation where you will find 13 year old girls cruising f7a routes at many walls, whilst grown adults have a whole load of fatalistic and defeatist excuses about their own performance and lack of application.
Is it cultural or social? Is it down to the climbing walls? Is it a lack of knowledge about how to approach indoor climbing and train to improve?
In reply to Mark Stevenson: "Equally, does it even matter?"
I don't think it does. I enjoy climbing as a social and recreational activity, I enjoy the problem solving and occasional facing of fears. There's a bit of banter and competitiveness between the group of us who go regularly, but nothing serious.
I don't care if I never climb 8a, if you see what I mean.
Maybe it's because climbing isn't my life, it's just an activity I enjoy. Just like I enjoy hillwalking/scrambling including a bit of pratting about in the snow, but am unlikely to attempt anything properly serious like Everest. And I go running for fitness, because I enjoy it (particularly afterwards ) and because I can improve myself a bit, but I doubt I'm ever going to be winning a marathon.
If people have got an ambition - to burn off their mates on the big overhang at the wall, or to lead E3 in the pass or whatever - that they aren't achieving because they have a pointless objection to certain ways of training then yes, it's a bit sad. If they're in it for the scenery, the adventure, the fresh air and the fun, and if they can get plenty of those at their current grade with their current (lack of) training regime, then why's it a problem that they aren't turned on as you by the prospect of completing a series of hard physical tasks (to quote Johnny Dawes) in a converted warehouse?
I quite like pottering around the countryside on my bike at weekends, with maybe the odd pub or cafe stop or the occasional bit of touristing - does it bother you that I'm probably never going to get into serious training and enter something competitive?
And he also seems to consider "training" and "competition" the only two states in a sport. They aren't.
I cycle mostly as a mode of transport that happens to be both enjoyable and beneficial to my health. I run because I felt like and it's good for me - yes, improvement feels good, but it's not the be all and end all. If I go swimming I just pelt up and down the pool for half an hour, or prat about with a couple of mates for a bit.
Sport doesn't *have* to be ueber-competitive all the time.
> Sport doesn't *have* to be ueber-competitive all the time.
I think some people are really motivated by competition and find it quite difficult to understand why other people don't try harder. Even walking can be about how far you went in a day, or how fast.
Great, if that is what motivates you. Go for it.
But then there are the potterers, who play rather pathetic giggly games of badminton, or who stop to look at the view, or who chit chat as they jog gently along, or who make no improvements what-so ever.
Both are fine, but woe betide anyone who tries to mix the two groups together! It always ends in tears and ranting...
Certainly our group has got funny looks and I believe even commented about at the wall, just because we're a bit silly and playful at times. (I don't mean doing anything dangerous, I just mean Not Taking The Climbing Seriously Enough(tm) )
> Modern indoor climbing is a superb sport ... every time you are doing it properly you fall off....If you aren't falling off then you are not participating in a sport, you are doing something else.
You're at it again Mark I fear. Modern indoor climbing is a lot of different things to different people. You're just describing one approach to it that happens to be right for you. Fair enough, but please don't disparage other approaches as "not doing it properly" or "not participating in a sport".
I train indoors to keep myself fit for on sight, ground up, no falls trad. That's what has, now and always, giving me the greatest pleasure in my climbing. For me it's the best sport in the world. Falling off while leading indoors is irrelevant to me. Falling off outdoors is failing. You might want to argue that since my trad climbing grade has stayed pretty static in the last 20 years I'm doing something wrong, but if so you need to check my profile. I'm 63.
> If you aren't falling off then you are not participating in a sport, you are doing something else.
I'm happy to agree that I'm not participating in a sport. I don't regard climbing as a sport, which is why I lack 'sporting aspiration'. As for enthusiasm to improve, I've reached a level at which I'm comfortable and at which I can enjoy my climbing. The only way to improve would be to put in a considerable amount of time and effort, and probably accept a higher level of risk, and I don't have the time or inclination to do this, neither frankly do I feel a need. Climbing has been an important part of my life for more than 40 years, but I have other important things too.
If you do want to regard it as a sport and set sporting objectives that is entirely up to you. However there is no need to see it as a matter of regret that other climbers have a different point of view and different objectives.
In reply to Merlin:
"My suggestion would be to top rope some harder routes to build some strength and then try leading 5's which should feel reasonably easy by then."
I think that's what I'm generally trying to do but hadn't recognised it until you spelt it out!
I 'try' at 6B, that's my 'trying level' (i.e. I've yet to do a whole route indoors at that grade yet - getting close though as I've also got close to a 6Bplus, so something is nudging!) I work on it to build my confidence to lead at a lower level, doesn't matter if I can't get that 6B grade, I learn something by trying. I do think that approach works, to try routes you can't do, and to really try, then to lead at lower grades. Well it seems to work for me...
> Indoor lead climbing is a fantastic sport; launching yourself upwards on a well-set route in search of success or glorious failure is a great feeling.
I've never had that feeling. A little bit of pride from climbing something with a grade harder than I thought I could do is about as big a thrill I've ever had from indoor climbing (and I do it several times a week in winter).
> If you aren't falling off then you are not participating in a sport, you are doing something else.
I kind of agree with this. If I thought about indoor climbing in a remotely sporting sense, it would indeed be something completely different. For me, it's just training for climbing, it keeps me in shape to climb the routes I want to climb.
> Some treat it as recreation. Some treat it as fitness training. Some treat it as a substitute for outdoor climbing.
That's because a lot of the people who do it are climbers. They have a passion for something that fundamentally isn't indoor climbing, they're doing indoor climb for these other reasons.
> reading various opinions on this thread and others just depresses me. There is almost a complete lack of any sporting aspiration or real enthusiasm by people to improve.
I can't speak for others but I just feel no passion for indoor climbing. It's a dry, drab rehearsal of climbing for me, what motivates me to do it is that it will help me do something that I find fulfilling and amazing.
> Is it cultural or social? Is it down to the climbing walls? Is it a lack of knowledge about how to approach indoor climbing and train to improve?
I think it's because many people just don't find a reward in training and improving at indoor climbing. It's super-arbitrary: it's not competitive, each route is just a goal that you either can or can't achieve and then it disappears when the wall gets reset.
Those with a goal-oriented character who get a buzz from training and improving do so and are good indoor climbers. Those who do it as a poor substitute for rock climbing will probably not enjoy it much and certainly won't be motivated to train and improve at it. The there's people like me who go to train for something else who do improve over the spells that they do it, but who don't treat it with any sporting mentality at all. I couldn't give a shit if I get up a route or not, I'm just trying to find a route that gives me the right level of pump to up my endurance for rock climbing.