/ why am I not Improving?!

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HenryCowan - on 09 Nov 2012
I started climbing about 2 years ago. I went from 4+ to 6c in a year or so and ive been working alot of 7s. I just dont seem to be able to onsight anything above 6c+/7a and ive been at this stage for a year now

Im good at slabs but built for overhangs and i try and vary my sessions.
Im leading about E3 at a push ( i have done about 5)

Anyone else have this problem or is it just me?!
Any tips would be great!

Thanks, Henry
henwardian - on 10 Nov 2012
In reply to HenryCowan: There is a lot of information on the forums and online about how to restart grade progress. There are whole books about it infact (e.g. 9 out of 10 climbers).
Here are a couple of things you could try:
- Boulder more if you find you are lacking power for cruxes.
- Climb until you are so pumped your arms are burning in pain if you lack power endurance (there is lots of info out there about how to train this, not to overdo it, etc.)
- Find partners who climb harder - copy what they do, training, technique, diet, etc.
- Try finger boarding/climbing with a weight belt/dead hangs... Whatever you don't normally do, again, always look for info first, you can overdo it easily (or so I hear).
- Do lots of fall practice if you think fear above gear is a factor limiting you.

If you can find out what you are worst at and therefore why you are not progressing and write it here, you should get more specific and useful answers.
Fiend - on 10 Nov 2012
Jon Stewart - on 10 Nov 2012
In reply to HenryCowan:

I think for quite a lot people (like me, maybe) the level you're at is where you have to do something other than just 'go climbing as normal' in order to improve. Some people will hit that point sooner, others later. That'll depend in part on their natural ability but also on what 'going climbing as normal' involves for them.

I found this summer that E3 was a grade I couldn't just walk up to and climb, relying on general experience and an OK base of strength/fitness. I needed to be on form, i.e. 'trained' (which I wasn't - the only E3s I got up were easy ones). I feel like in order to get solid at E3 and progress, I'd need to be very determined and/or have lots of things stacked in my favour: the right partners, the right weather, loads of time not working, etc.

For me, it might happen one day, it might not. I'm not super-motivated at the moment to improve (not arsed about training, plenty to go at my current grade), so it won't happen while I feel like this. If things change and I become really motivated, I would have to change quite a lot about the way I climb, what I climb, and who I climb with.

The question really is, 'can you be arsed to improve?' (I think from memory that was probably one of the main points of Fiend's excellent article).
JBO on 10 Nov 2012
In reply to HenryCowan: If you want some advice from someone a similar age, who had the same problem very recently, just spend the winter climbing at the wall, a lot. Obviously if the sun is shining get out when you can, but otherwise use the bad weather to motivate you. A major improvement for me when I started bouldering more, it helped me bulk up and get stronger, as well as giving me the confidence to try harder moves on the lead.

I'd recommend something like two hard bouldering sessions and a route session a week if you want to see some decent improvement, then if the weather is good get outside whenever you can. This way by the time summer comes back around you'll be a bit fitter and a lot stronger, and the harder grades will come to you as you spend more time on real rock over the summer.

Sorry if all this is stuff you already know and have heard before, but it worked well for me
Alun - on 12 Nov 2012
Gerry_Doncaster - on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to HenryCowan: If you've only been climbing for 2 years and you're already leading E3 you haven't got a problem. I know people who've been climbing for 40 years and have never reached that level.
jkarran - on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to HenryCowan:

Do you actually know why you're failing onsight attempts when you do?

Can you read the moves right first time most times?
Can you do the moves fresh?
Are you fit enough?
Do you rest enough on the route and on the floor?
Do you trust your partners completely, 100% no doubts?
Can you really commit above the bolts?
And above good gear?
Do you know how good your gear actually is?
Is your pacing good on the route?
Can you exploit sneaky rests/shakes?
Are your tactics good (eg choosing the right shoes, going for a flash rather than an OS where holds might be dusty or bolts badly placed, stick clipping the 1st or 2nd bolt etc etc)?
Can you keep climbing pumped?
Can you do the hard moves pumped?
Does it alter your commitment above gear/bolts?
What's motivating you to climb harder, is it enough?

Sounds like we're at similar stages (though it took me a decade longer to get here). For me there is no single simple solution on the bolts, I don't suffer from a commitment problem but I do need to be much fitter and the moves need to feel easier (stronger and or lighter) and I need to get more crag-specific experience reading the routes to increase my onsight success rate in the low 7s. Another 'problem' I have is that I'm not actually that interested in onsight sport, it's the process I enjoy more than the 'tick'.

On gear it's a little simpler, I'm a coward. I don't get on enough routes and I don't get on enough 'hard' routes to build any kind of real confidence. I guess I don't really want it enough.

Lukeva - on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to HenryCowan: Most people don't go from 4+ to 6c in 12 months, or onsighting 7a in 2 years. You must have talent or be very young, at a guess? Either way you are going well! '9 out of 10 Climbers' is a great book

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