/ Tips for conserving energy when trad climbing?

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C Witter on 29 Jun 2017

I was wondering if anyone has any good tips or literature recommendations on conserving energy whilst trad climbing; and more specifically, I was thinking about footwork and body position.

I've realised that I tend to pump out whilst placing gear (particularly on near vertical to steep ground), rather than whilst making moves - and I've been trying to watch better climbers to see what they do, as well as thinking over how I climb.

So, the obvious:

- place gear from a good position
- stand in balance
- straight arms, if that's doable
- good holds, if there are some
- rack so you can get at your gear quickly and place it efficiently
- try to have a good gander at the route beforehand, and think about where you'll rest, place gear, or try to move fast.

But, I was wondering if anyone has any more subtle tips?

Recently, someone told me I'm a very tense climber, and that I should drop my heels a bit, rather than always standing on my toes (to avoid tired calves and Elvis leg). More generally, I've read that it's good to try and relax overly tensed muscles, and certainly I'm trying to avoid overgripping (i.e. trusting feet) - but, it's not always easy! Connected to this, I feel like I sometimes try to "freeze" to place gear - i.e. I get a good hold, and then try to stay as still as possible whilst placing gear - rather than moving around, getting comfortable, relaxing. I think partly this is an indoor sport climbing approach I've learnt, that's creating problems outside. Any thoughts or tips about all this?

I've also noticed that better climbers seem to use the outside edge of their foot a lot more than I do; I tend to prefer the toe or the inside edge. My pet theory at the moment is that using the outside edge more would tend to bring my body closer to the rock and shift more weight onto my feet. Any thoughts?

Finally, I think being scared tends to make me pump quicker: I recently repeated a climb I'd felt scared and pumped on a month previous, but on returning to it I was completely relaxed and didn't feel at all pumped or pushed by the route. At present, I don't really have a technique to deal with this beyond telling myself to "keep breathing", and it means that some days everything mysteriously goes smoothly and brilliantly, whilst other days everything feels mysteriously hard and scary. Any tips or thoughts?

Any other thoughts, techniques or tricks to avoid wasting energy? Many thanks - and apologies if it seems a dull, over-discussed topic...!
Post edited at 14:56
J Whittaker - on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Give the Neil Gresham masterclass videos a watch on youtube, especially the ones about tactics for trad climbing.

Great tips on how to rest effectively and place gear using minimal energy.
sopaz - on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Couple of tips I've found useful:

Probably best to practice when climbing indoors (so clipping lots of bolts) - just before you clip, take a moment to squeeze your clipping hold a couple of times and relax in-between. This should make you realise how much you are over gripping. I've found I still over grip but its now in the back of my mind when climbing closer to my limit, so I can sometimes sort it out...

Also very simple but when the panic is rising, take a moment to take a couple of big deep breaths. Helps you relax and remember to keep breathing...
Shapeshifter - on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

I think you're on to a lot of good stuff there. Three additional things that have helped me a lot in terms of controlling the pump on trad routes:

Gear placement - if placing is pumpy / awkward, climb up, place it and clip, then climb down a bit if you can, to a better rest and recover. Don't just press on.

Breathing - when I get a bit gripped I hold my breath / breathe shallowly. Force yourself to take deeper breaths by consciously blowing out when you exhale - this reminds you to breathe deeper. Looks / sounds a bit odd to others nearby but it works.

Footwork - spend time down the wall using the smallest footholds you can manage on steeper ground. Circuit boards are ideal for this. It will improve your core strength and allow you to get the weight off you arms and on to your feet better. (Loads of stuff on UKC about exercises to improve core)

Cheers

DannyC - on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:
Good topic. Your list is good, and I completely agree that fear is bloody tiring! If I'm feeling a bit scared, I tend to ask myself what would I do if it gets too hard? For most cragging, the answer is normally quite straightforward. Also, I tend to fear failing as much as falling, so lying to myself that it's just a lump of rock and doesn't really matter can sometimes be useful.

I'd also add:

- Consider if you can safely carry (and perhaps also place) a little less gear. While there's obviously a balance to be struck, I'd suggest most modern climbers, myself included, lean slightly too far towards the other extreme, causing unnecessary pump.
- Learn to locate and use hand, foot and body jams. They can make great spots to place gear from.
- Whenever you can, get your heels on. For example, why stand on your toes on the big spike when you could be giving the calves a rest?

Interested to see what others suggest.

D.
Post edited at 15:49
Ciro - on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Sounds like you've thought through the important points, just a question of learning to put them into practice.

Whether you're sport climbing or trad climbing, thinking about "getting safe" before thinking about getting comfortable is a common problem. If I had a pound for every time I've clipped a bolt and hauled the rope, or fiddled a piece of gear in desperately pumped, and then adjusted my hands and feet immediately into a good rest position I'd be a rich man! :D

Occasionally you will have to clip something quickly in the middle of a crux sequence then keep moving, but usually you'll be working from a position where a rest is available. It's a good idea to train yourself to shake out before you place your gear where possible - if you watch a really good sport climber reaching a rest on a hard route, they will invariably do this. Not only will it allow you to recover from the previous section of climbing, it will also help you relax in the knowledge that if you start pumping out placing the gear you can stop what you're doing and shake out again at any time.
In reply to C Witter:

A lot of the in-efficiencies people have in trad climbing has a psychological starting point , leading to a physical manifestation.

The anecdote you used about placing gear is the perfect example (I've been there countless times before too!): you're pumped out your mind placing gear, then the moment it's placed and the rope has been clipped you're immediately able to relax again. If only that were to happen a few moments earlier! Technically there is no difference to the holds or the place you're standing, just the amount of stress you're putting on the body from the mind. The same happens when you're climbing and you come across a move you're unsure about: there's the tendency to over-grip (which is just about the worst thing you could do, but comes so naturally that it's hard to fight).

The key - and this is way easier said than done - is to learn to relax in relatively stressful situations, and the only way I've found to do this is by doing it again and again and again. If you can become comfortable and relaxed whilst trad climbing, keeping your breathing as smooth as possible, and generally learning to chill out, you're likley to be able to hold on for a lot longer; however, as stated before this is far easier said than done.

For me, the times when I've been trad climbing the best have always been when I've been trad climbing the most. Sport climbing, bouldering and physical training goa long way towards helping, but aren't by any means a complete solution (then again, neither is what I've just described).

Anyhow, I better leave it there - I'm off to Pembroke tomorrow and could do with finishing off some work!

Good luck with it all and let us know how you get on.

planetmarshall on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Carpool where possible, walk or cycle to the crag instead of driving.
2
summo on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Carpool where possible, walk or cycle to the crag instead of driving.

Indeed.

Get hill fit. If your body isn't dying after an hour's walk up hill, then you'll be starting the route in a much better place and probably won't be queuing either.

That and don't carry the world on your back or round your waist.
John Clinch (Ampthill) - on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:
I read a great article by Ray Jardine on this in the late 1980s i think. It was in the Wild Country catalogue. For the few years that my climbing peaked this was my strength, being effecient. So here are some tips, which may seem odd But they worked for me

Mindset. Tired and weak vs strong and psyched.

I'm really strong. I'm fit and trained. I can pull my way up that lot.

Vs

I've got limited energy here so lets ration the energy for every move.I'll pull as little as possible and push with my legs.

I found it much better to set off with the "weak" mindset. I was really weak so this was easy!

I think mileage helps with this. Lots of easy (for you) trad routes. Get all the habits ingrained on routes where you just feel good any way. Where it is easy to choose the runner slots where it is easy to stand. So that you are happy getting comfortable before you put the gear. So you've placed so many runners there is no hesitation in choosing the right size. I don't know you but I think bouldering, sports climbing and indoor work are great for technical skill but they can lead to you leading trad routes where you have the technical skills but not t the trad skills. I'm sorry if that doesn't apply to you. But in summary 2 years of enjoying high mileage classic and suddenly it will all fall into place and you'll leap frog through the grades

I'll be arrogant enough to carry on, sorry

I remember leading Left Wall as a good example of putting this into practice. The point being that left Wall was a good goal for me that summer

I got to the hands of rest using relatively little energy. Fully relaxed happily placing runners. I placed gear at the hands of rest then up and down checking out the moves and the gear above (the inevitable jammed wired). The when I was ready and still feeling fresh i went for the crux. Suddenly there is nut 4 placement in front of me. First grab gets the wires off the harness. Nut straight into the slot then hand straight onto a quick draw and the ropes clipped and I'm moving again in no times. But for me that was years of learning

Post edited at 17:54
SenzuBean - on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

(sorry for the text dump, it's probably for as much my benefit to write it out as for anyone to read it)

- Practice utilizing and relaxing on rests. The other day I did a route that had a near-splits bridge rest, I was able to rest my arms almost completely and successfully did the route. Partner seconded and actually found the rest extremely painful, and had to leave it quickly because his bridging was crap (see recent thread about flexibility). Yesterday I rested on a route by jamming my calf into a crack. Etc. I usually include bridging rests as part of my bouldering warmup (go and climb a bit, traverse to a bridge rest, recover, repeat) - I would suggest this is of huge benefit if you do it at least occasionally. Also when I do 4x4s, I try and rest on the route on the way down.

- This is very new for me, but I only just realized that I wasn't engaging my shoulders - when I pull on a jug, my shoulder rotates forward. Now I found that I'm consciously practicing to engage the shoulder and keep them tucked back. I found this gives me way more power, uses different muscles (so I can hold on longer), and keeps the body closer to the wall for minimal effort. It's been something of a revelation, although I suspect I have only just begun to find usage for this.

- On climbs with smaller footholds, I find that chalking up any and all possible footholds in sight (up to head height) calms me down immensely. I think the reason why it works is that it makes the footholds appear larger and more positive (through enhanced contrast), and then I think "oh yeah, this is a huge foothold, I'm totally fine, what was I worrying about". The footholds being obvious also allow me to climb faster as I don't need to search as hard for them. My eyesight isn't fantastic, so maybe not a great tip if you have perfect vision. Of all the times I've fallen off trad climbs recently, it was because I missed footholds.
GridNorth - on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

There are very few of the deficiencies that many people experience in climbing that cannot be addressed by simply getting the mileage in. IMO this is most certainly true up to a certain grade and is arguably a better way of gaining both physical and mental experience. That grade depends on the individual but for me I climbed E4 and f7a without any "training" or coaching whatsoever.


Al
5
C Witter on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Thanks everyone - lots of good stuff so far. Summing up:

- Learn to chill out
- Keep breathing
- Search for rests (and don't be afraid to downclimb to a rest)
- Jam when you can (especially if you can get a whole leg in and sit on it)
- Engage your shoulders (something I recognise from trying to do deadhangs and wondering why I was so crap at it...)
- Get experienced (not in a Jimmy Hendrix kinda way).

It's pretty mizzling up here in the NW of England, hence the ruminations... frustration of wondering when there'll next be a break in the weather. Let's hope the weekend is dry!
Robert Durran - on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Mileage, mileage and more mileage. Until you are climbing and, most importantly, placing gear confident and relaxed because you know you can hang in there for ages.
Lemony - on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

It's obviously a double edged sword but: In the right circumstances, place less gear.

If I'm doing a (non bold) route for a second time I will usually place about half the gear I did on the onsight and feel about as safe. That means I'm wasting a lot of energy on my onsights.
5
Adam Russell - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Learn to downclimb well (either to rests or the ground) whether you have gear or not.
Being half decent at it brings a massive number of benefits.
MischaHY - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

There's been some really good advice about the mental side of things so I'll just add in this quote from Hazel Findlay:

> I’ve never been particularly compelled to use mantras or teach them when I’m coaching, and yet I’ve organically adopted the mantra: let the body climb. For me this mantra has been very powerful, and now I use it almost every time I go climbing. Be creative if this particular one doesn’t stick with you. Whenever I find myself over-thinking, I say to myself: Hazel, let your body climb. I can be climbing and it’s all flowing nicely, but maybe a rest will break that flow and all of a sudden my conscious mind turns on with worrying thoughts such as: “the next section looks too hard,” or “I feel way too tired to do this route,” and “Oh no, that hot guy is watching.” By saying to myself let the body climb before I leave a rest, I’m reminding myself to be respectful to my body’s natural ability to climb. The key word in the mantra is “let.” When we climb well, it feels easy and we don’t need to try. Of course we give effort, but trying not to fall off is akin to trying to go to sleep (and we all know how that goes). Just like we need to let ourselves fall asleep, we need to let our bodies climb. The mantra let the body climb helps me remember that if I allow it to, my body is capable of great things.

CharlieMack - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

In regards to getting pumped while placing gear. What is often overlooked is sharing the job between hands. So you get to the position and want to place a wire. You pick the wire off your harness with your right hand while hanging off your left. Then pick the right size in your mouth. Then swap hands and place and check the wire with your left hand while hanging on your right. Swap hands and grab a quickdraw with your right hand, etc.
Also this process can be slowed down if you've just finished a pumpy section. So once you've placed the wire, waiting for 10 seconds while shaking each hand out before doing the next step. This takes mental strength and is tricky, but pays off when you can get it to work.

As others have said, milage. Then you will start to know your body and can tell when you're on vapours whether you'll be able to start recovering on said hold. Or if you've only got a few seconds until your hand gives out.

Best of luck and just get out and enjoy yourself.
Lankyman - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Here's a simple tip that I always used to employ whenever possible -

bridge your feet out and lean into the rock (even rest your head on it). This lowers your centre of gravity and puts almost all your weight onto your feet sometimes even allowing a complete rest/shakeout. A great route to try it on (which you may have done) is Brant's Little Brother at Jack Scout Brant's Little Brother (VS 4c) I've seen lots of people fighting their way up the crack and ignoring bridging. It doesn't only work on corners - anywhere you can bridge on holds will do.
C Witter on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to Lankyman:

I've not done Brant's yet, actually, but it's on the list! I neglect Jack Scout a bit because the top outs are so unsatisfactory, and because I always feel obliged to wash my ropes afterward, which is a faff. But, that line looks class - as well as the Onedin Line traverse. One summer's eve soon I'll have to return.

In reply to MischaHY:

I like that quote! I have a similar mantra already, which more or less riffs along the theme of: "don't climb to place gear, climb to climb","trust your climbing to get you to the top" and "good climbing is the best protection". Obviously to be taken with a pinch of salt, but it helps me on easy but bold ground. Funnily enough, it's often when the climbing is harder that I am most in the zone... probably because I let myself climb.

As for the mileage aspect - as it keeps coming up: I'm a great believer in this, but I'm already going climbing as often as I can within my limited means, and without my various bosses sacking me and my girlfriend leaving me for some handsome bloke who professes a deep-seated abhorrence for the outdoors. Maybe I should start a thread on "how to sensitively inculcate an obsession with climbing in your partner"?
C Witter on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to Lemony:

I take your point Lemony. My variation on this is: "don't hang around placing crap gear; only place good gear", coupled with "if you've got good gear, go!" - which usually applies to faffing before the crux! I'm also trying to place gear a body length apart and letting that distance grow a bit toward the top of longer climbs.

It's amazing how important these little axioms are to me, when I'm climbing - just having some nugget of well-worn advice to fall back on in a moment of indecision can be very calming. Another from a new climbing partner who's pushed me a bit in really helpful ways: "keep making upward progress!" Works a treat when I'm fiddling around, contemplating a tricky section ahead. We've also had: "use what's there, not what you wish was there" and my personal favorite: "Any fool can climb clean rock, but it takes craft and cunning to get up steep grass!" - which I understand is a rehash of an old quote by Dr. JHB Bell, and helps me keep my humour during trying top outs...
Wayne S - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Hi you have some great stuff to be working on. Though it's really hard to apply as fear has us avoiding many truths.

So scrutinise how much gear you place and how often. Is it need for protection or to calm the inner noises?

Break climbs up between way points (rests and gear), and climb with conviction between these points.

I find it useful to objectively assess where I am, take a breath and commit if appropriate. At times there are decisions on whether pressing on is safer than placing gear at that moment. This assessment is subjective and very personal.

I can very much identify with what Rob Greenwood says about how you relax often after you have placed gear (oddly you always seem to find a better hold or position after the gear is placed), and on a good day I can rationalise this leading up and while placing gear. Though often it is sometimes about getting some recovery after you have knowingly overgripped while placing gear. Controlled breathing helps a lot. Get rests where you can and resist feeling hurried on these rests.

I think practicing relaxing your grip on easier climbs can help a lot, as can trying to get an accurate gauge of what is in the forearm tank. If you ignore the fear/danger side I am usually suprised how much longer I can hang on than I expect.

Try hanging on a crag just above the ground and just concentrate on fiddling gear in and out. You might be suprised just how long you are there. This may also silence some doubts on route if you have a more accurate fuel gauge calibrated in real currency and not fear.

GrahamD - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

I've always been pretty good at finding sneaky little lists, but as strength and stamina declines I realise that actually sometimes I just need to stop prevarocating at rest points and just get on with it.
Appleby on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to Lemony:

> It's obviously a double edged sword but: In the right circumstances, place less gear.

Running it out over a safe fall is sometimes a good idea.

But in general, carry lots and place lots - getting pumped placing gear will make you strong, and if you fall off you won't hit the ground.

Describing placing gear as "wasting a lot of energy" seems like an unwise attitude.

6
C Witter on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

As I can't currently afford to run a car, this is already current practice! Walking and cycling does tend to limit objectives, unless camping and feeling very energetic... I've climbed A LOT at certain local crags as a result... Bored to tears with Warton Crags... Personally, looking forward to securing enough working hours to actually be able to run a car and get out to more exotic places... like Wales... At present, I'm cycling full of rage and resentment as I'm cut up by idiots in cars worth over £30,000... An obscenity...
Mike505 on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Looks like you've got a pretty good list from folks, I've only really just started to push put of my comfort zone and am currently in a similar situation to you. For me these methods have proven to to the most effective:

1) Placing gear and then down climbing to a rest
(Left wall all the way from just below the crux back to the rest notch)

2) Running it out a little more when the gear is good and there's more coming up.

3) Relaxing tense muscles as much as possible and letting my body find the position it needs to make a rest/move work.

4) Moving quickly/efficiently both through a sequence of moves and whilst playing gear.

5) Concentrating on footwork has been the biggest step forward, I've been trying to keep my arms straighter and bring my feet up on more marginal placements (and learning to relax on them) before reaching for the next hold.
fred99 - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

I suggest you consciously plan your route to the next resting position. This certainly need not be a belay position, but one in which you can take the weight (at least principally) on your feet, and allow your arms to recover.
If leading, in this planning stage identify the possible runner locations, and the likely type thereof, so that you can move between runners quickly without the worry of "where is the next one".
If seconding, remember to stop, rest, and take in what is coming - too many times when seconding a climber goes past a rest position and arrives at an awkward move tired and tense.
In all cases remember that it is not a race - relax, think, plan and enjoy the moves.
nniff - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Lots of good stuff here, but a few more from me.

This one is so trite, but it only took me 30 years to work it out - rack all your wires so that the nuts curve the same way - it seems to make it easier and faster to pick the right size. Size order is pointless.

Hum in times of stress - I have a go-to tune - 'Singing in the Rain', if you must know. Hum in times of no stress, too. Humming both diverts the attention and begins to be associated with operating at a comfort level.

Look at it, size it up, see what you've got to play with and have a proper go. Don't faff around unless you've got a decent place to lurk that isn't in any way tiring. Beware the 'sucker rest'. It's not going to change (unless you really have missed something) so deal with what you've got. If it's 'good enough', use it and climb quickly.

Personally, I hate those moments where you realise that if you stop to place gear, you will fall off, but if you keep going, you'll probably make it. Big word, 'probably'.

If you've struggled to place a high wire, clip the QD to the rope first, ask your second for loads of slack then stretch up to the wire, clip and keep going to the next hold. The QD acts as a pulley and you don't have to stop mid-move. Take care not to do a back clip.
3
radddogg - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Hi Chris,

A little off-topic but related nonetheless. Despite being a competent VS leader, I had seconded Jean Jeanie (VS 4c) twice and both times thought I couldn't lead it due to the sustained nature. Your logbook entry for Jean Jeanie led me to face up to leading something on the main wall. Harijan (onsight) and yesterday Jean Jeanie.

I wondered if Jean Jeanie was the climb you talked about repeating but having checked the logbook I don't think so.

I am watching this thread with interest, trying to gain some tips so thanks for posting it and thanks for writing your logbook comments; many people appreciate reading them.

Regards
Rob
Rog Wilko on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Bridge.
C Witter on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Aye, I do, but only over troubled water...
C Witter on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to radddogg:
Thanks Rob! Are you the Rob who climbs with Paul and Anita, by the by?

It was actually Assagai, also at Trowbarrow, that was the climb I was thinking of. The first time I climbed it as a second, the grade made me quake in my boots. The second time, about a month or two later, I already knew I could climb it and, bizarrely, led it more calmly than I'd seconded it. I'd also quaked at the thought of leading Jean Jeanie, but a friend with a positive attitude kicked me in the ass to do it one cold, damp day when I was totally sure there was no way I was going to be leading it. It's a funny thing the way we build an aura around certain climbs.

Since you've done Jean Jeanie, I reckon the next thing to do, if you've not already done it, is Assagai - I don't think it's harder - just different - and it's well protected. There's a definite crux, but most of it's fairly steady. And it's fantastic! The one I'm aiming at now is Hollow Earth - but, having seconded it, it's really quite sustained hand and finger jamming, and I'm a bit concerned as to whether I'll have the physical and mental stamina... One of the reasons I was keen get people's tips on the subject! I'm also keen to link Eclipse (VS) into Truffle (HS) into Rumal (HVS) into Assagai...a grand outing, surely?! ...Clearly, I spend far too long thinking about these things... :/
Post edited at 17:36
radddogg - on 01 Jul 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Hi Chris,

I don't know a Paul but I do climb with Anita. She followed me up Ask Les (S 4a) on Thursday actually.

Eclipse is a total sandbag. Hard to protect and just a bit scary. I got a cool cam in the bore hole though.

I'm at a similar level to you so I can't offer you any real advice other than I have been trying recently to climb more competently and efficiently recently. Rather than admiring my gear placements then pondering what my next moves are, I've been queuing up my tasks so there is no time wasted. As I'm seating the nut I'm already deciding which quickdraw I'm going to use then as I clip looking for the next holds and sequence so I can move my hand from clipping straight to the next holds. No delays and no wasted time. For me, time = pump.

Enjoy your grand day out and maybe I'll see you out on the rock. Anita can bring you to one of our meets.

Rob
radddogg - on 01 Jul 2017
In reply to nniff:

What do you mean, the quickdraw acts as a pulley? Sounds like aid?
1
Toerag - on 01 Jul 2017
In reply to C Witter:

1) Get good at selecting the right size bit of gear first time to avoid 'frustration pump' where you're a bit scared 'cos you need a bit of gear quickly, then frustrated 'cos you need to try again, then more scared because you feel the pump coming on....... I think the only way to get good at picking the right gear is to get the mileage in.

2) learn when to stop and when to go - being weak on steep ground like you I've had to learn to not stop in a strenuous position to place gear when I can be slightly bolder and place it from 1 or 2 moves further on. Got to be careful that there actually is gear further on though - I once climbed with someone who thought they'd go up to a better placement only to discover it wasn't, got pumped, fell off and landed on my head.

3) place gear by your side instead of above your head then your arms aren't continuously above your head with no blood in them getting tired.
stp - on 01 Jul 2017
In reply to C Witter:


Good and interesting thread.

A couple points I don't think have been mentioned:

1. How often do you take lead falls? If you're not taking falls regularly then you're likely to be more scared of falling. That will add to your stress and make it hard for you to relax. It's much easier to be relaxed, and climb efficiently, when we're less bothered by falling. Notice the difference between how you feel top roping and how you feel leading.

2. Climbing in a relaxed way takes practice and the best place to practice is on easier routes. You can play with your climbing style on easy routes (experiment with outside edging for instance), take a foot or an arm off and dangle it, shaking out the muscles so they're totally relaxed. Monitor the rest of your body, experiment using the minimal amount of muscle activation you can get away with in different positions. Learn to remember what this feels like and build up your climbing like that over time doing the same on harder routes. This needs to become automatic, habitual, your natural way of climbing. It needs to be ingrained. So it might take a while. It sounds like currently you may have ingrained the opposite, climbing in a stiff, unrelaxed manner.

A good way to practice is when doing warm up routes. Indoors is good, particularly autobelay routes. Otherwise start your climbing day doing routes you know are well within your comfort zone and build up to harder stuff later in the day.
Lion Bakes on 01 Jul 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Let your mate do all the hard climbing whilst you enjoy a picnic on the ledge. Shout tight rope and get hauled up whilst seconding those sections.

full stottie on 01 Jul 2017
In reply to C Witter:

On the psychology side, I've tried to apply something I learned from a great skiing friend. When you start a climb, its important to cleanse the head of all the stuff that can get in the way. So as I sort my gear out at the start of a route, for each piece I reject and put back in the pile of "not taking this", I allocate it a meaning - "money worries", "family problems", "upcoming MOT", "feeling stupid and useless", "painful joints" and so on. In this silly symbolic way, I leave most of my worries behind before I set off, allowing me to do the things that others above have suggested.

I'm still crap though.

Dave
springfall2008 - on 01 Jul 2017
In reply to C Witter:

I'm pretty sure stress/being tense has a lot to do with it (at least it does for me). If the gear is good on a route I tend to be calm and climb much better than if it's not so good...
Rock Gymnast - on 01 Jul 2017
In reply to C Witter:

Not always possible, but when placing gear try to use both hands for holding on/placing the runners. In other words after a good shake with both hands place the initial runner with one hand (a nut for example) and then swap hands and place QuickDraw and clip rope with other hand etc.

Arms get pumped when they repeatedly hold positions with contracted muscles for an extended period of time. If you are constantly contracting and relaxing ur forearms (i.e. Switching them around after every 30 secs or so) then they'll not get pumped out half as quick.

Apologies if it's mentioned before but give it a try
SenzuBean - on 04 Jul 2017
In reply to full stottie:

> On the psychology side, I've tried to apply something I learned from a great skiing friend. When you start a climb, its important to cleanse the head of all the stuff that can get in the way. So as I sort my gear out at the start of a route, for each piece I reject and put back in the pile of "not taking this", I allocate it a meaning - "money worries", "family problems", "upcoming MOT", "feeling stupid and useless", "painful joints" and so on. In this silly symbolic way, I leave most of my worries behind before I set off, allowing me to do the things that others above have suggested.

> I'm still crap though.

> Dave

Totally doesn't work for me. It's like saying "don't think of pink elephants doing ballet". What did you just think of? Exactly the thing you told yourself not to think of.

I did some googling and here's what wikipedia has to say on the matter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironic_process_theory
nniff - on 04 Jul 2017
In reply to radddogg:

> What do you mean, the quickdraw acts as a pulley? Sounds like aid?

No - when you lift the QD to clip your high piece of gear with the rope already clipped to it, the rope runs smoothly through, you don't haver to faff around holding it in your teeth etc, nor do you have to reach to place the gear, reach to place the QD, reach to clip, and then probably reach again for the move - instead you reach to place the gear, reach to clip and move straight on.
full stottie on 04 Jul 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

> Totally doesn't work for me. It's like saying "don't think of pink elephants doing ballet". What did you just think of? Exactly the thing you told yourself not to think of.

> I did some googling and here's what wikipedia has to say on the matter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironic_process_theory

Yeah, see how that could happen, especially if you only say one ironic thing. Not so sure if you have a list. But, hey, each to their own, we all find different stuff that works according to our mental constructs and thinking styles. The skiing one was "At the start of this run, draw a circle in the snow with your ski pole. Stab a hole for each of the things that are on your mind and could affect your performance. They'll all still be there when we come back up the lift, but in the meantime lets have fun and go skiing!"

Worked well for me.

Dave
summo on 04 Jul 2017
In reply to nniff:

> No - when you lift the QD to clip your high piece of gear with the rope already clipped to it, the rope runs smoothly through, you don't haver to faff around holding it in your teeth etc, nor do you have to reach to place the gear, reach to place the QD, reach to clip, and then probably reach again for the move - instead you reach to place the gear, reach to clip and move straight on.

Or just place the gear 6" lower. You'll place it quicker and easier, with a fraction of the energy used.
1
radddogg - on 04 Jul 2017
In reply to summo:

You place the gear where the rock lets you???
radddogg - on 04 Jul 2017
In reply to nniff:

Good tip! I'll try that instead of getting rope burn or loosing my teeth! Cheers
ukb & bmc shark - on 04 Jul 2017
In reply to C Witter:

I find the best way to get energy back into my arms is to clip into the gear so I can take both hands off and give my arms a good shake before carrying on. Works a treat. I'm surprised nobody else as mentioned it as I've seen other people do this too.
summo on 04 Jul 2017
In reply to radddogg:

> You place the gear where the rock lets you???

Of course. But there is an inclination to place it as high as you can to act like a temporary top rope, then you spend twice as long placing it and get twice as tired, before doing the move you weren't convinced on in the first place.
krikoman - on 04 Jul 2017
In reply to C Witter:

My best energy saver is, only put enough water in the kettle for your needs.
rgold - on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to nniff:

> If you've struggled to place a high wire, clip the QD to the rope first, ask your second for loads of slack then stretch up to the wire, clip and keep going to the next hold. The QD acts as a pulley and you don't have to stop mid-move. Take care not to do a back clip.

The reason this is rarely done is that you have to lift double the rope weight, precisely because the quickdraw acts as a pulley. So maybe something for very low on the route when there isn't much rope hanging down, but once you are up a ways, not a great idea.

If there is a danger of blowing a high clip and falling with a lot of slack (this problem is usually eliminated if half ropes are employed), then a variation of pre-clipping a quickdraw can be very helpful. Put a long sling on the top carabiner of the draw and clip that to the rope. The sling should be long enough so that the leader does not have to lift the rope to get the draw plus long sling clipped to the high gear. As soon as the clip is made, the leader has protection through the long sling. Now the rope can be clipped to the higher bottom draw carabiner, either from below or while passing the placement.

While on the general subject of conserving energy, perhaps it is worth mentioning a somewhat esoteric and not always available trick that can make a huge difference when it can be used: jams in horizontal features. Some horizontal handholds are the bottom lip of a horizontal crack, and rather than using the handhold, getting a hand jam or finger lock in the crack can save large amounts of energy. If the crack tapers, then the hand or finger placement will require leaning to the side to activate the jamming action, a move that can be extremely effective for resting (usually less useful for progress), but is both unobvious and unintuitive.

Rick Graham on 05 Jul 2017
In reply to rgold:

Giving a lot of tricks away there r

It probably depends on your personal strengths, arm/core/finger relative strength.

I often find locked off arms easier on the fingers than the usual hang off bone/straight arm advice.

Even better for me is two locked off arms and two horizontal hand jams as rgold suggests.

Similar is a "heel of hand " hooked over a small spike. Easiest to demonstrate at Kendal Bridge or a climbing wall than describe in words. Again this works best for me with a locked off arm.

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