/ Breaking the 7a barrier

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andy_1972 on 13 Jan 2013 -
Hello all

I am sure I am not the first person to post this but I am looking for advice on how to crack the wall I have hit in my indoor climbing. I have been climbing for a couple of years and can comfortably get up most 6c's but despite numerous attempts I am struggling to crack the 7a barrier. So I am sure many people have had the same issue and I am interested to know how people have managed to tackle this problem.

Any help and advice is greatly appreicated.
AJM - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972:

Depends on what happens when you try 7as really. Without knowing why you fail, it's impossible to advise what to do to change failure into success.
Jon Stewart - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972:

Struggling on onsight them or climb them at all?
Kevin Woods - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972: I'm quite similar. I find all 6c's have bigger holds but usually pumpy. While every 7a I've done is all fingery. It's as if the route setters though it's in the 7's so there should be a certain type of hold compared to 6's. Could be making that up, though

I've personally found it easier to make gains and break new ground by climbing outdoors. I don't really have the motivation to work a hard route across several sessions, that could change the next time I'm in.
Morgan P - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to Kevin Woods: Ask someone working there, they generally have set dates they're going to change each wall so you know your time-limit to do it in, I find that actually helps motivate me as I've got say 2 weeks left to do it

To the actual thread: Grades are subjective but ask around for which are the easier 7a's and pick one on a shorter route / lower wall / less overhanging. Once you get the reasier end of 7a you will feel more confident doing others. It's breaking the boundary that's the hardest bit so cheat a little bit by making it as easy as possible till you make the transition then start ramping up the difficulty.
David Kay - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972: For the past few years I mainly climbed outdoors, but whenever I would go indoors I would probably be able to do 6b or 6c at a push. Then, I started going to this little members-only bouldering wall that's local to me. I started climbing 3 times a week. It's pretty much all overhanging in this bouldering wall, so I was spending most of my time on the 30 degrees board. Maybe a couple of months of this over the winter and the next time I climbed at a wall I onsighted some 7a/7a+ routes. Also, I went from a VS/HVS leader to an E1/E2 leader outdoors.

I think that bouldering is a good way to get strong fingers, which starts to become more of a requirement for harder routes. Also, climbing more than once a week accelerates your progress loads.

Hope this helps!

JLS on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972:

Generally, I've found that the 6c to 7a grade step comes down to learning proper redpoint tactics. Up to the point you can just have a go see how it goes but once that stops working you really need to start taking a look at some things.

You need to think about - the idea warm-up; how long to rest between attempts at a hard route; learning to take the time to learn the "best" sequence.

If you haven't ever really worked a route before then a change of tactics will be worth a couple of grades to you.
misterb - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972:
climb more outdoors and you won't care what grade you climb indoors.if you are really addicted to indoor climbing then a finger board and pull up regime might work for you.
Siderunner - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972:

I've only done a handful of 7a's at the wall, but perhaps that means I've recently been going through the same thing? Anyway, the following thoughts occur. [A lot of this may be old hat to you, in which case apologies! but you didn't give us much to work with ;-)]

(1) do you boulder V3 solidly? i.e. you can do all the problems at the wall in 1-3 goes. If not then your power or technique may well be holding you back. And if you don't boulder, then you should! Identifying what sort of V3s you can't do will go a long way towards identifying what technique aspects or physical weaknesses you should address.

(2) how many leader falls have you taken in the last 3 months? to get up 7a climbing efficiently, you need to take risks, by which I mean you need to pop/grab for holds/moves you may or may not hold; if you don't accept the risk of a leader fall you will do all sorts of other things and establish bad habits. Very hard to be honest with ones self about this one, but the answer to the question I posed is actually very simple; if the answer is less than 5 falls then read about clip-drop training or buy 9/10 climbers (or Rock Warriors Way) and get on with it. I found this very VERY hard to face up to, and it made a big difference when I did, even though I haven't got it fully nailed by any means.

(3) can you do all the moves on a 7a but only in 3-4 sections? in this case tactics or stamina may come into it. This is the least likely IMHO, but lapping the same 6b - 6c four times with 30 - 90s rest has helped me in this area. This is not just a fitness exercise, it trains you to climb efficiently, to rest, and to hang on psychologically when you're pumped.

(4) if you think your fingers are just too weak, try fingerboarding once or twice a week. If you don't already do some then the gains will be pretty fast for this investment of 1hr/week - you'll notice the difference within 6 weeks if you do it right.

Good luck!
Fraser on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to madbaza:
> (In reply to andy_1972)
> climb more outdoors and you won't care what grade you climb indoors.

I don't think I'd necessarily agree with that. JLS is right, you need to start applying yourself and analysing your climbing a more.
Fluvial - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972:

I have read this with some interest because I too struggle on occasion to break trhough the 7a barrier. I boulder quite often maninly on V5s indoors 6a outdoor and have seconded upto E2 outdoor.

I think the main problem I have with getting upto that grade is the ability to get outdoors more but for the damn weather that keeps me going back to the wall where we train 3 up 3 down on 6a and up.
oh for a bit of decent weather!!
turtlespit - on 13 Jan 2013
Have you tried 7a+ and 7b routes? When 6c/6c+ was my limit outside, I'd happily jump on a 7a+ or 7b (and subsequently fall off). It exposes you to harder and/or more sustained moves so when you drop back to 7a the holds/moves will feel easier.

As other people have said, bouldering and falling practice are important.

Final tip is I found doing 3x3s for power endurance really helpful in training the ability to fight to the very end of a route. (for information on 3x3s, search for a series of articles by Robbie Phillips on here)
Wee Davie - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972:

I got my 7a wings in the last few months.
For me, it probably boiled down to a bit more finger strength, some tactical decisions (thanks JLS and Burnsie) and trying as hard as I could on the successful redpoints- no pussying about and shouting 'take'.
In my case I was doing 3 redpoint attempts a night after warming up to around 6b+/c level. Usually at least one of the attempts would be diabolical, but that was usually because I was too focused on the crux moves and screwed up the other bits, or forgot I had feet...
I'm a newb to the redpointing game. I found it's worthwhile to speak to people who've done a bit and can give you tips.

My goal is to be able to flash 7a. Wonder how long that'll take...?
JimboWizbo - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972: Go to Awesome walls in Stockport for all your 7a flashing needs
ericinbristol - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972:

If I had to sum it up in a single suggestion, it would be climb with someone who already climbs 7a and learn from them.

If you are can comfortably get up most 6cs, you can climb 7a. Learn how to redpoint properly. To put it at its most simple, practice it on a top rope and once you can more or less do it on a top rope, work out your clipping positions and your rests then get on the lead. Work the route, work the clips, work the rests. If you are scared of falling, do falling practice.
steve taylor - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Fluvial:
> (In reply to andy_1972)
> I have read this with some interest because I too struggle on occasion to break trhough the 7a barrier. I boulder quite often maninly on V5s indoors 6a outdoor and have seconded upto E2 outdoor.

Back in the day when I was climbing regularly, V5 indoors or outdoors would have been a struggle - I can probably count on my fingers the number of V5s I've ever done.

However, during the same period, I'd regularly flash 7a and could redpoint 7a+/7b in a single day. I suspect that was down to climbing regularly with like-minded group of friends, all of whom were operating at a broadly similar level and all of whom were happy to "have a go".

I'd say just get out there and get on lots of routes. Don't obsess over the grade too much or over one specific climb, just do lots of climbing at or near your current on-sight grade, but push the boat out sometimes, and you'll soon be there.
GrahamGiles on 14 Jan 2013
Ok so this is how I usually break down a hard route:

Step 1: try the route with an open mind after a good warm up

Step 2: note where you fell and why you fell, are you seriously pumped, heavily out of breath, are you scared to commit to a big move or can you not do the move? (Although this is very simplified it can give you a rough idea of your weakness to this route)

Step 3: once your weakness is identified try specifically training it, I.e do circuit training as mentioned above, go for runs on rest days, take controlled falls regularly, boulder at your limit, use dedicated finger board training for certain types of hold you striggle with, if it's technically hard do techy boulder problems, if it's overhanging climb overhanging boulder problems.

Another note is to climb at LEAST twice a week or more if you wish to see improvements. Another thing I would recommend is finding a route worth projecting, something that inspires you and calls you because your first 7a will stay with you for a very long time after you send it. Try not to get too bogged down about the grade and enjoy the climbing.

Good luck an post back when you get it!
neilh - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to andy_1972:
What are you trying to achieve outdoors?

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