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/ Sure-fire ways to go up a grade

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BlueTotem on 10 Jan 2018
I'm compiling a list of all the advice I've heard over the years on guaranteed ways to go up a grade. Some are from UKC posts, others from advice I've had face-to-face. Any contributions or additions to this list would be welcome.

So far I've got:

- Doing lots of climbing indoors
- Selling your wall membership and never climbing indoors
- Reading the Rock Warrior’s Way
- Taking cocaine
- Only climbing routes with a high adjectival grade and low tech grade
- Weight loss
- Changing brand of climbing shoe
- Finding an easier crag
- Regular exercise
- The vegan flapjacks at The Foundry
- Doing a lot of climbing
- Pebble wrestling
- Any drink with caffeine
- Elbow pain caused by tendonitis
- Buying a finger board
- Using mono-point crampons
- Moving to France

Are there any other sure-fire ways to go up a grade anyone's heard? Thanks in advance for any contributions, as I'm looking to go up a grade myself.
overdrawnboy - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:
Just wait a few years the older I get the better I was, three cheers for grade creep!

mrphilipoldham - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Think light weight thoughts?
petegunn on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Pain is weakness leaving the body.
Michael Gordon - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

get better
drolex - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:
- Watching Neil Gresham climbing masterclass
- Reading Hard Rock
- Climbing only cracks (alternatively offwidths) for a year
- Yoga

Thanks to practicing all of the above, and adding the gained grades, I can confidently climb 5+ routes (most of the time)

The ones I haven't tried:

- Eating only meat
- Eating no meat at all
- Going fast and light on multipitch
- Climbing "like a girl" (???)
- Manning up (might try this one at some point)
Post edited at 15:47
summo on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Spend £500 shaving 500grams off your total rack weight.
BlueTotem on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to drolex:
Good point - I've definitely heard 'climb like a girl' before. I guess if I climb like a specific girl, maybe Leah Crane or Hazel Findlay, that might help??
Post edited at 15:50
JLS on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Don't run or like use your legs for anything really, ever.
If you can get to the crag by wheel chair great.
BlueTotem on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> Think light weight thoughts?

Actually, now you come to mention it, I've heard both 'think light thoughts' and 'think long thoughts' (for reachy moves). Thought that was just general beta though - didn't realise I would go up a grade if I did it. Thanks!
dabble on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Pilates
Do 100 pull ups a day (spread out over the whole day, if your soft)
Spit on your shoes before starting a route
Don't use chalk
Use more chalk
Say "To the top!" to yourself before starting a route (I do this and it definitely works. Sometimes.)
ebdon on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Crush
kathrync - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

"Actually try"

Sounds trite, but it does seem to actually work
JLS on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

- Periodisation training
- Concurrent training
BlueTotem on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to dabble:

> Say "To the top!" to yourself before starting a route (I do this and it definitely works. Sometimes.)

Heard a variation on this strategy at a comp recently - it's called the Theresa May technique. You're supposed to close your eyes, hang on for dear life, and keep muttering 'Strong and stable, strong and stable...' to yourself as you go. Must give it a try.
GridNorth - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Some years ago, back in the 80's I suspect, I was told that I climbed like a girl. It was meant as an insult but to this day I consider it to be a compliment as I have never been a "strong" climber and rely mostly on footwork. I don't like generalising but I would advise anyone who wants to improve their climbing to watch and learn from a competent female. And that doesn't necessarily mean one climbing in the 7's and 8's. Men tend to rely much more on strength and ego, Females use their feet much more efficiently and their shape lends itself much more to efficient climbing. OK,OK I'll say it generally speaking females are better climbers than men

Al
JLS on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

- Redpoint
- Don't just redpoint, siege.
JLS on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

- open hand everything.
- train half-crimps
- climb dynamically
- learn to lock-off
davidbeynon on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Go to Portishead Quarry. Guaranteed grade boost for the day
Mick Ward - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

> Are there any other sure-fire ways to go up a grade anyone's heard? Thanks in advance for any contributions, as I'm looking to go up a grade myself.

You seem to think that going up a grade is the same process, irrespective of the grade improvement. It isn't. For example, many people will need more power to go from F7b to F7b+. Conversely, going from V Diff to Severe will almost certainly have nothing to do with power.

After looking at your logbook, I'm assuming you want to go from VS to HVS.

If I were you (and I'm not!), I'd forget about grades for a while and aim to be a more well-rounded climber. Ultimately this will serve you far better. Most of your climbing seems to be on grit. I'd climb on other rock types. I'd have trad trips to Wales and the Lakes, I'd go to Portland (or, better, Spain) for easy sport, I'd get out struggling on limestone severes (they'll be struggles, so be careful), I'd get out on amenable slate. I'd go to Windgather and aim to do a dozen routes a day. I'd go on different walls, try overhanging stuff, slabby stuff, crimpy stuff.

Just climbing more will get you from VS to HVS and beyond. Make sure the early routes at the breakthrough grades are well protected. (Sounds ridiculously obvious, but so many people get in dangerous situations.) Push yourself a little on well bolted/wall routes, say from F6a to F6b+, but only when it feels right. Learn to listen to your body/mind. Hang on in there in the bad days; go for it on the good days. Be sure you know which is which!

Forget about quick fixes and the riddle of which quick fix is best. A deep, wide skillset (including neat, precise footwork) will ultimately serve you far better.

Good luck!

Mick

BlueTotem on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to Mick Ward:

Thanks Mick. On a note slightly more serious than the rest of the thread, I think there's some good advice there. Now if only the weather would co-operate!
cb294 - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

"Climb like a girl" is a based on a stereotype but actually sound advice.

Proper "man climbing" involves brute strength, technique free pulling with the arms alone.

Since girls clearly have no arm power worth mentioning, they are forced to use technique, specifically precise foot placements. While this is obviously a despicable form of cheating, secretly adopting this girly approach will actually help us men, but then, who needs technique if we can do mono pullups...

CB
johncook - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Over my 50 years of climbing I have found that the best way to move up a grade is to climb harder!
Mick Ward - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Go inside till it gets better?

If you go out on crappy days, it's generally best to get mileage, say loads of V Diffs and Severes. You keep moving, you stay warm, it's motivating. With trad, mileage is everyone's best friend.

The other thing is to do great routes when you're most likely to appreciate them. Some people find that if they've gone up to, say E3, they struggle to appreciate a three star Hard Severe. If you're climbing VS, you're probably more likely to appreciate it. And when you climb a brilliant route (of whatever grade) at the right time for you, the memory stays with you forever. It's like a warm glow in your heart.

I envy you the journey, I really do. Enjoy it. Savour each moment of it.

Mick
RX-78 on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

So if my wife sees me watching other women climb I just need to explain to her that I am trying to learn from them? Great!
john arran - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Most people could climb a grade harder simply by being assertive when irrational doubts about falls or gear creep in. The "simply" part may be a lie, but the rest is very true.
GridNorth - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to RX-78:

> So if my wife sees me watching other women climb I just need to explain to her that I am trying to learn from them? Great!

Yes there is that as a bonus

Al


Saint.Procrastination - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Grow (and maintain) a beard. Science will back this statement up if you care (or dare) to look further.
steveriley - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Try harder. Often forget that one.
Stuart en Écosse - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to summo:

> Spend £500 shaving 500grams off your total rack weight.

Save £500 by losing 500gms off your total body weight.

OP: my biggest gains were when I stopped concentrating on all the things I was good at (hundreds of pull-ups, infinite lock-offs) and addressed areas which I'd previously neglected simply because it was unrewarding to practice things I wasn't good at (footwork, balance, resting).
dave657 on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Grow dreadlocks.

When the improvements stop, remove dreadlocks.
flaneur - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

The single most sure-fire way of improving has not been mentioned: climb with people who are better than you.
snoop6060 - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

You're taking some weird cocaine if it makes you go up a grade. The normal pattern for me is take cocaine, take more cocaine, repeat until cocaine runs out... Feel wank, don't climb for 3 days.
BlueTotem on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to flaneur:

> The single most sure-fire way of improving has not been mentioned: climb with people who are better than you.

I am, thank you
mountainbagger - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Get your romantic partner or, almost as good, total strangers, to stand at the bottom and shout things like "move your feet!" at you. That always works.
Kevster - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Man up more often
ATGNI - on 10 Jan 2018
BlueTotem on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to mountainbagger:

Oh absolutely! Actually on that note, I once saw someone climbing with earphones in an indoor wall (Mile End I think), and I asked him in the changing room later what he listens to while he climbs. He said, 'Nothing. The earphones are just to stop people from shouting at me while I'm trying to focus.'

Jimbo C - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

I always find the best way to climb a grade harder than you have done before is to find a route you like the look of and really want to climb at said grade and to try it.

If we're talking about trad, pick a well protected one. Most climbers are already physically capable of climbing a grade harder but it is the mental aspect that prevents it (this is true for me anyway)

One mental trick that has worked for me is to try and replace the fear of failing / falling / not being good enough, with a fear of never getting another chance to climb the route. Ask yourself, how long will it be before you return to this crag, will the conditions be as good then as they are now, will you be as fit then as you are now....

Edit: If we're talking about going to HVS on grit, get good at jamming. If you think that a good hand jam is better than any jug, then you are already there.

Post edited at 13:43
Jim Nevill - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Work your weaknesses!

In my case that means improving at: Open handers, French, finger jams, swimming, crimps, tolerance, off-widths, tidying, layaways, listening to my wife, bridging, crosswords and some other things I can't remember. 

SuperLee1985 - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

- Wear a Beanie

- Wear a vest top

- Go Shirts Off For Power!

- Climb while a member of the opposite sex is watching

- Take a sharpie to the indoor wall and upgrade all the routes

- Give all routes logged on UKC the maximum grade possible in the voting system to skew the average upwards.

- Pull on gear/rest on the rope but still log it as an onsight on your logbook

- Read through the UKC logbook comments and only attempt routes that are 'soft for the grade'

Post edited at 15:56
GrahamD - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

My sure fire way of going up a grade is to regress about 3 grades beforehand !

Lord_ash2000 - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

If its trad then my top tip would be, get into sport climbing. 

Even moderately difficult sport climbs will likely have you climbing on rock doing moves much harder than you're used to on trad.

After a season of that, when you venture back onto VS terrain it'll seem like a steady jug fest and you'll cruise them.  

 

JackM92 - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Get really fit indoors then go to Sharpnose. Sea Green and Break On Through (both E4) are about f6b

 

Deadeye - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

There are 47 guarantees in this thread.  I have done 32 of them.

I started at a very reasonable 5a.

Given a-b-c- at each grade, I am now capable of climbing 15c.

Smoke that Ondra!

tom_in_edinburgh - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Start drinking before each session.   Your training goal is to gradually drink more and more before climbing while maintaining your present grade. 

When you can climb grade N after drinking four pints of beer you have an excellent chance of climbing grade N + 1 if you only drink 3 pints.

SuperLee1985 - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Switch grading system from UK tech to French Sport. If that's not enough then start using Aus or SA grading systems.

duchessofmalfi - on 12 Jan 2018

This thread is really useful and I realise that my current tactics of:

train, train train, oops blow elbows, recover and repeat

haven't been working!

 

 

 

Blue Straggler - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

The obvious one missing so far, is "get on the wrong route"

I can help with this, by failing again to get on Avalanche/Red Wall/Longland's Continuation at Lliwedd, and put us on some "WTF" unknown line with at least 3 pitches of sketchy high-end HVS with all water seeping out and an unknown future

paul mitchell - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Pick a route that you have failed on.Keep working it on top rope til you can do it.

In general,try harder and pick routes that inspire you.

 

Slim down a couple of kilos.

 

 

 

ripper - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

be like a drop of water flowing upwards

trouserburp - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to flaneur:

> The single most sure-fire way to go up a grade has not been mentioned: climb with people who are better than you.

and make sure they lead the hard pitch

wbo - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Climb lots of routes with old school grading then go Kalymnos

Steve Woollard on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Think "top rope" when you're leading a run out crux

But more seriously Mick Ward's advice is sound. Experts talk of three elements to climbing - mental, technical, physical.

From my experience a "normal" person is likely to be physically fit enough and have natural technical ability to climb at the VS/HVS level with little or no training, what usually holds them back is their mental approach. At the low E level you need technical skill as well as mental, and at the mid to higher E grades you need physical training as well.

So the best advice is to climb lots and on different rock types as this will hit all three elements.

Somerset swede basher - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Get on harder routes.  People often say 'I can't climb x grade' and if you ask them which they have failed at the chances are they haven't tried one.

Caroline_Schofield - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to BlueTotem:

Climb angry.

I've done my absolutely best ever when on a route hopeless too hard for me while cursing about how my partner told me there was no need for hand jamming or chuntering about how reachy everything is. There's nothing motivates like a bit of rage. 

BlueTotem on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to Caroline_Schofield:

> Climb angry.
> I've done my absolutely best ever when on a route hopeless too hard for me while cursing about how my partner told me there was no need for hand jamming or chuntering about how reachy everything is. There's nothing motivates like a bit of rage. 

That's such a brilliant idea - I'd love to climb with you sometime now you've said that! I've always avoided climbing anything hard when I'm 'not in the mood', but now I come to think of it, I bet it would work. My partner never shuts up ;-)

BlueTotem on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to Somerset swede basher:

> Get on harder routes.  People often say 'I can't climb x grade' and if you ask them which they have failed at the chances are they haven't tried one.

I'm getting lots of serious advice out of nowhere! That's a good point though - I have actually only roped up at the bottom of one X+1 route, on New Year's Day with a hangover. Maybe just turning up is the best advice.

L richnoggan - on 09:26 Mon
In reply to BlueTotem:

I got a lesson off Dave McLoud once. Maint tip: pull harder.

And he was right.

L richnoggan - on 09:26 Mon
In reply to BlueTotem:

I got a lesson off Dave McLoud once. Maint tip: pull harder.

And he was right.

rockface - on 00:55 Wed
In reply to BlueTotem:

Check out ol' man Hörst. 

Motown - on 05:04 Wed
In reply to dabble:

> Do 100 pull ups a day (spread out over the whole day, if your soft)

Gave me tendonitus, and although this is in the OP's list of possible assisting factors, it really didn't help me. 

Increased bouldering on a specific rock type helped me for Dartmoor granite. 

Falling practice and telling myself that 'there is no take' helped for sport routes. 

 

 

Post edited at 05:09
SuperLee1985 - on 09:44 Wed
In reply to richnoggan:

> I got a lesson off Dave McLoud once.

I imagine a lesson from Dave McLoud would just be a non-stop barrage of shouting.

 

stp - on 12:22 Wed
The Grist - on 13:06 Wed
In reply to BlueTotem:

I went up a couple of grades by just going to Kalymnos. My previous holiday was to the Verdon. A 6B+ in the Verdon roughly equates to a 7a or 7a+ in Kalymnos. 

Post edited at 13:07
GridNorth - on 13:33 Wed
In reply to The Grist:

> I went up a couple of grades by just going to Kalymnos. My previous holiday was to the Verdon. A 6B+ in the Verdon roughly equates to a 7a or 7a+ in Kalymnos. 

I think the grades are beginning to level themselves out in Kalymnos, at least in some of the more popular locations.  I did several 7a's last year in the full knowledge that they were acknowledged "soft touches" so it's no surprise to find that they have been downgraded in the new guide.  Damn them Some of the newer areas/route setters are still on the soft side.  Gerakios springs to mind, but I found the routes at Monastry to be the opposite i.e. hard for the grade.

It would be interesting to know why they got so out of kilter in the first instance considering that routes were being put up by a good cross section of nationalities.

Al

L richnoggan - on 17:36 Wed
In reply to SuperLee1985:

Not at all, quietly spoken, very considered

aln - on 21:44 Wed
In reply to SuperLee1985:

You imagine wrongly. 

Si dH - on 22:02 Wed
In reply to richnoggan and aln:

I think you need to check your spelling 

 

chris wyatt - on 23:18 Wed
In reply to BlueTotem:

Until last year when I was working away a lot I managed to improve sport , bouldering or trad grades just about every year.  Here's the formula.  1) Know what you can do and assume you can do it - ie mental confidence gets your lead grade closer to your top rope grade.  2) Train specifically - eg on finger boards etc but don't overtrain or you will get injured.  3) Watch your diet.  4) Enjoy yourself - if you endlessly worry about performance you are missing out on everything else climbing has to offer.  5) Sometimes climb easy stuff to concentrate on technique.  Its like an expert skier going down a red run flawlessly.

Andy Hardy on 08:06 Thu
In reply to RX-78:

> So if my wife sees me watching other women climb I just need to explain to her that I am trying to learn from them? Great!

As long as, when challenged, you can remember what shoes she was wearing and where she placed her feet!

snoop6060 - on 08:35 Thu
In reply to The Grist:

I think that says more about the verdon than kalymnos. But it's about right that. Probably one for the how to drop 6 grades in one week thread: just go to the Verdon

A eastern euro fella was there last time I was trying to do his first 8a, right at the top of the gorge. What a place to choose. 

Post edited at 08:35
Flinticus - on 08:45 Thu
In reply to BlueTotem:

Climb when no one is watching.

I find I finish difficult boulder problems when no one is there to witness them as the fear of doing some stupid move and failing is gone. Also, the less honest can lie!

Casa Alfredino - on 09:21 Thu
In reply to BlueTotem:

I frequently tell my partners to <Morpeus voice from the Matrix> "Stop trying to climb it and CLIMB IT!" usually does the trick.

Also get a climbing partner who will ridicule you so incessently for years after a failure that it becomes an unpleasant experience failing on routes. It gives you the extra impetus required to climb through that crux.

Don't stop climbing outside over winter completely - inddor strength is bloody useful but so is having a head in the right place. The year I went from solid HVS to solid E2, I achieved it over the winter by refusing to let the weather get the better of me. It's remarkable how much easier routes feel once you can feel your fingers again when spring comes around.

Eric9Points - on 20:20 Thu
In reply to BlueTotem:

If you go to a climbing wall always go onto the leading wall and make sure you fall off a few times. Same for sports climbing, make sure you climb un until you fall off.

 

..and remember, if you don't let go you can't fall off.


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