Gear review: Tenaya Iati

Like the Ra or the Tarifa, Tenaya’s Iati is a very comfortable shoe that is still geared towards performance use. Anyone who hasn’t tried out one of Tenaya’s offerings yet, should go and put some of these shoes on because they’re the most comfortable on the market.

The Tenaya Iati is a down-turned, slightly asymmetric velcro shoe that sits rather on the soft side. The materials used are almost exactly the same as in the Tarifa. The Iati features a soft, synthetic upper and a lycra inner that is lined with cotton for your comfort. They fit really well straight out of the box and there are no uncomfortable pressure points or anything like that.

I own these shoes for about six months now and I have used them indoors as well as outdoors on limestone and granite sport.

The verdict so far: They seem to be great shoes but they’re not for me.

My main issue with the shoe is that they’re pretty soft. Other climbers who like soft shoes will have a lot of fun with the Iati but I am just too heavy to use a very soft shoe. Especially outdoors, small edges are just too painful in these shoes and I start rolling of pretty quickly. Indoors is another story though. A soft shoe still works for me indoors and is great for smearing on volumes and boxes. The heel is also good and works very well even for marginal heel hooks. Overall, being soft is not the shoes fault and I just didn’t pay attention when I bought them.

Another issue I have is the closing system. Tenaya has tried to innovate here but I’d much prefer some regular velcro straps as these adjustable ones are just not working for me. They become undone quite easily and they seem too much hassle for no obvious benefit. Others might like the idea though. The closure system is definitely not a dealbraker.

In any case, the quality of the shoe is really high and I am sure that it can perform well on rock for others. For me, it will be limited to indoor use. That being said, I could imagine that a lighter climber would enjoy the sensitivity and precision on real rock.

Go check these shoes out and decide for yourselves if they work for you. If you are on the hunt for a soft, precise and down-turned performance shoe that is still really comfortable then go for it. However, if you prefer your boots stiff then don’t bother with the Iati and try the Tarifa instead!

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Packing for a (sport) climbing trip (including packing list)

This is going to be a very practical post on the simple question what you should bring to a multi-day climbing trip.

I have been on many climbing trips ranging from a few days to more than 6 weeks (read this post about my last trip to Céüse) and it constantly amazes me what some people bring on such trips. Sure, I have taken many unnecessary things in the past and sometimes I forgot a few crucial items but overall I am now pretty happy with my packing system.

I’ll be giving you a commented packing list for a climbing trip, listing all the things that I deem necessary and talking a little bit about what you likely shouldn’t pack.

 

Some basic considerations

What you pack often depends on your destination, the weather, the type of climbing you want to do and on your means of transportation. Your accomodation is also an important factor and – of course – you will have to think about a lot more when you plan to go camping instead of renting an apartment. This list is geared towards sport-climbing (because this is what I do) and it assumes a summer trip to a warm destination. It is also geared towards camping, so if you plan to stay in an apartment just leave those items out.

My general philosophy when packing is that you should try to take the least amount of stuff that is necessary. If you’re not traveling by car it is kinda self-evident that you can’t really exceed what you can carry (probably a bigger backpack and maybe a smaller secondary bag) but even if you have a car it is not advisable to pack too much stuff. It’s heavy, you have to worry about it, it clutters things up … too much gear is just never a good thing.

I usually take a 45+10 litres backpack and my ropebag with all my climbing gear in it. This applies more or less regardless of the length of the trip as I tend to (hand)wash some clothes during my trips instead of just taking more clothing (highly recommended). Sometimes, if I don’t go camping, I can even fit my rope into the backpack and end up with just one piece of luggage.

 

The Packing List

Climbing (assuming sport)

  • Helmet
  • 80m rope
  • Harness
  • 10 – 20 quickdraws
  • Belay device
  • A few slings
  • A few extra biners
  • Chalkbag (filled with chalk, if empty steal chalk from your friends)
  • Tape
  • 1 – 2 pairs of climbing shoes

This allows you to do long sport routes and you can even do sport multi-pitch. If your friend brings a rope you won’t have to bring one and it can be beneficial to discuss the number of quickdraws that will be needed. Note that I always take 2 pairs of climbing shoes but it is very rare that I actually need both of them. If you always climb in the same pair anyway then don’t bother with taking 2 pairs as one will just end up not being used.

 

Clothing

  • Belay jacket (down or synthetic, warm, a crucial piece both in summer and winter, never forget your puffy)
  • 1 pullover (fleece or wool, geared towards outdoor use)
  • 1 normal pullover
  • 1 pair of long climbing trousers
  • 1 – 2 pairs of short climbing trousers
  • 2 – 3 climbing shirts
  • 2 normal shirts
  • 1 longsleeve
  • 1 pair of normal trousers
  • The amount of socks and underwear you feel comfortable with (I usually take 4 boxershorts and 4 pairs of socks and wash them frequently)
  • Some sort of hat or beanie
  • Flip-flops (good for communal showers)
  • 1 pair of approach shoes (I can recommend the La Sportiva Mix)

This is not the minimal amount of clothing and you could take a lot less. You have 1 – 2 outfits for restdays (city outfits) and you could also cut down on some of the climbing apparel. If you’re going in winter just take out the short climbing trousers and consider taking another long one. You could also substitute some t-shirts for longsleeves and might want to pack a scarf, gloves and a second (or warmer) jacket. I stopped taking a hardshell because I don’t climb in the rain and never get wet on climbing trips. This is assuming that you’re always close to a warm and dry location. If you can’t easily dry your clothes if you do get wet, then you should take a rain jacket.

 

Personal Hygiene

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shower gel / Shampoo (all in one)
  • Towel
  • Nail clippers
  • Hand balm (if needed)
  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant (if you have to)

Go light here, you don’t need to look good in the woods. Only take the essentials! The nail clippers are essential to keep your fingers, nails and hands in shape (you might also want to bring some sandpaper for sanding down rough skin).

 

Camping

  • Tent
  • Insulation matress
  • Sleeping bag
  • Stove
  • Pot and pan
  • Fork
  • Knife
  • Spoon
  • Mug
  • (it can be nice to have a camping chair)

Take light stuff if you can. Choose a sleeping bag that is appropriate for the climate. No need to pack a pillow, just use a pullover or your towel. I have a therm-a-rest prolite as a matress and I am very happy with it. Lightweight and comfortable! In regards to tableware, I take a proper spoon and a proper fork. They are very light as it is and there is no need for special camping tableware (or some abomination like a spork). Makes dinner time much better! As a knife I take a small Opinel, it is essential to have a sharp knife for cooking and it can come in handy pretty often. You don’t really want to bring a water bottle. While I never use plastic bottles when I am at home (the environment), I use these exclusively when on a climbing trip. They are light, disposable, can be found everywhere and one bottle won’t be enough anyways so there’s no need to bring one.

 

Other essentials

  • Headlamp
  • Cellphone and charger
  • A good book
  • basic first-aid kit (don’t go overbord, if you don’t know how to use it then don’t take it with you)

In this list, only the headlamp is really essential. You don’t have to take your phone or a book but it can make things nicer. Your phone can double up as a camera and it is very useful in case you need to call help. A high-capacity powerbank can be pretty handy if you can’t charge your phone regularly.

 

Some last remarks

In the end, it is all about developing a system that works for you and finding gear that you can rely on. By now, I have most of my gear and clothing items figured out and am pretty happy without having to buy new stuff whenever I go on a trip. If I take all the things I have listed here, I find that I couldn’t increase comfort even if I brought more stuff. To arrive at a good system it is crucial to assess every item and think really long and hard about it. Will you really need it? And then, after a trip, think about what items you used, which ones were not used much and what stuff you could have left at home. Also, was there anything that you were missing? Write it down and remember to bring it next time.

 

Cheers!

Céüse Trip Report

Céüse was beautiful! It was demanding, many falls were fallen, many beers were emptied and many routes were send (and even more remained unfinished). I am back from my 16-day trip to Céüse and here I am sitting in the university library, finally having to work on my thesis but still too far out there to actually concentrate on what I should be doing.

We left as a group of seven eager climbers on the 14th of July and came back late last Saturday with many new ticks on our lists.

I am not going to give you the whole day-by-day or route-for-route shebang as this would be too boring for me to write or for you to read.

 

We arrived late into the night and went up to the huge massif de Céüse early afternoon after we had slept for a few hours but not nearly enough. Our first day was spent in the impressive sector that is the Grand Face. The approach was still gruelsome and the climbing was surprisingly hard. Nothing can really prepare you for that specific Céüse fitness or the heady run-outs that you will inevitably have to face. I was happy to put down two old projects right on my first day. While Tabernacle delivered a fair fight, Trous line went down on the first go of the day.

The plan was to climb some easier routes during the first few days and then turn to the harder objectives. More or less, it worked out that way. I climbed some easier stuff on our second day and then send my first 6c of the trip during our third day on. Les sales blagues à Nanard, a nice piece of rock in the Cascade sector with a tricky slab part just before the top. I put it down on my second go and was ready for a well deserved restday.

3 days on is just too much when you are in Céüse and we switched to the common 2 on / 1 off schedule when we had rediscovered that for ourselves.

I have to say that the grading was much stiffer than I remembered and routes didn’t go down as I hoped they would. Nevertheless, on our fifth climbing day, I was able to redpoint Gelati Dolomiti, a beautiful 7a that has almost every type of climbing you could imagine. It starts with an overhanging section, then you have to do a tricky move to get onto the slab, you traverse a little, face a hard slab move and then finish with a very dropable slopy layback edge that leads you right to the tricky clip of the anchors. This one was definitely on my list and I was very happy to do it after about 6 goes of struggle.

On climbing days 6 and 7, I laid eyes on a nice 7a+ far to the right of the massif de Céüse in the esoteric Nitshapa sector. I fought hard to get it but I just wasn’t able to link all the moves, so this one needs to wait until next time.

Four of us were pretty beat up after 7 days of hiking and climbing and we used our restday in the city of Gap to spend some time in the local climbing shop browsing through guidebooks of other crags in the area. We found the really nice Briancon climbs guide and decided to try out some of the areas described in that book.

Our last 4 climbing days were spent on 3 different types of rock. We visited two limestone, a granite and a conglomerate crag. I was able to do a 7a second go when we climbed in an amazing limestone canyon that had some of the most interesting wall structures I have ever seen. We all agreed that this one was pretty soft at 7a but hey, just take what’s in the guidebook right 😉

Other than that, I was able to onsight a really nice 6c when we ventured on granite and on top of that I had a lot – really a lot – of fun that day.

On our last evening before we left, we got to see the IFSC lead worldcup semi-finals in Briancon. This was the first time that I got to watch a climbing competition in real life. I usually watch the worldcups in bouldering on youtube but never cared for lead very much. In Briancon, however, the crowd was really great and it was awesome to see all those pro-climbers compete. We had a great evening and I would really recommend to go see a climbing worldcup in person if you never have.

All in all, it was a great trip with nice people and I enjoyed myself very much. The climbing was amazing and I got to see some new areas (I will definitely return). Of course, it would have been nice to get one or two more 7a’s or to bag a 7a+ but overall I am very happy with my climbing achievements and everything else!

Now it’s back to real life…

 

Cheers and have a fun summer!

 

Beastmaker Micro Crimps and Campus Rungs Review

Hanging from your fingertips to get really f*cking strong seems to be all the rage recently and what could be better than dangling from a beautiful piece of wood that was made by the guys over at Beastmaker in the UK.

In order not to get bored, I have extended my selection of edges to hang off of a few weeks ago and bought three campus rungs (small, medium and large) as well as the newly released micro crimps (6 mm, 8 mm and 10 mm) from the manufacturer of the famous Beastmaker 2000 and 1000 hangboards.

This review is long overdue but I couldn’t get to it because I actually had a finger injury and wasn’t able to try these beautiful edges for quite some time. As some of you might recall, I injured my finger on the day that the campus rungs and the crimps were delivered before I could even try them out.

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All the Goods

Beastmaker Campus Rungs

Let me start with the campus rungs because they were the first I was able to use again after some time off to heal my finger.

Beastmaker sells three sizes of campus rungs. They come in small, medium and large, like most campus rungs do, and I bought one of each to use them as a hangboard and not actually for campusing.

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Three sizes and some crimps

The large rung is 35 mm deep and 40 cm long. It is made of  beech and ‘Beastmaker’ is engraved into the front. It is quite rounded and you wouldn’t consider it to be a total jug (I wouldn’t at least). It is a very comfortable rung for a 4-finger open-handed hang. I can easily fit all four fingers on it (including my short pinkie) and while it isn’t really hard to hang, it can still pose a small challenge because of its slopy-ness. I use it for longer hangs but I could imagine that people could add weight and use it to train their sloper-strength. Generally, this is a very comfortable hold. The wood is smooth and feels good on the skin but still provides enough friction. I’m very happy with it!

The medium rung is 20 mm deep and it is quite incut. This is your classical campus rung. However, because I did not want the incut for hangboarding, I mounted it upside down. I now have a perfectly flat 20 mm edge that is still very comfortable to hold. It is perfect to train the half-crimp grip but you could also do open-handed hangs because it is still a bit radiused and doesn’t dig into your skin. This is the perfect edge for your weighted hangs!

The small rung is 15 mm deep and it is a little bit rounded. I believe it is 1 mm deeper than the outer lower edges on the Beastmaker 2000 (I think they are 14 mm) but it is much easier to hang. The radius makes this a perfect edge to train open crimp (or chisel) on. It feels nice on the skin and it is not too small. I really like this rung and I use it a lot.

 

Beastmaker Micro Crimps

Now let’s move on to the micro crimps that Beastmaker just started making. They come in pairs of 6, 8 and 10 mm. It is a simple product really, just some small, straight edges to hang of off but they are beautifully crafted and the quality is on point.

So far, I can only hang the 10 mm crimps. They are small but not very rounded. I’d say they are slightly harder to hang than the 14 mm edges on the BM2k. Although there is not much of a radius, they are still comfortable to hold and the edge doesn’t dig into your skin. (By the way, if you like my hangboard station, here is how you can build one yourself)

The 8 and 6 mm are pretty much the same, except that they’re smaller. While I can’t hang the 8 mm right now, they seem at least attainable in the near-ish future. The 6 mm on the other hand are ridiculously small. I’d imagine that hanging those for 5 to 10 seconds would correspond roughly to 8a finger strength… but hey, there’s gotta be something you’re working towards.

 

The Verdict

Both the campus rungs and the micro crimps are quality products that serve their purpose perfectly. They are nice on the skin, challenging and I am certain that they will make you beastly strong. Of course, you could also make something like this by yourself but I guess it would never quite have the look and feel of the beastmaker products. People who love their hangboards should take a look at these because they’re equally well crafted and you can feel that a lot of thought and testing has gone into this. Highly recommended! If you want them now, go and buy them over at Beastmaker (no affiliate link).

 

Céüse wishlist

Hey climbers,

I am already enjoying the bulletproof limestone of Céüse. We arrived on Saturday and have already climbed a bunch. Here is a little list of what I’d like to do while I am here. On the list are old routes, that I didn’t get to redpoint the last time I was here, there are routes that just look so impressive and there are some recommendations from all over the internet.

Some routes, I definitely want to redpoint, and for some of them, it would just be nice to get on them. Realistically, I am aiming for a few routes in the 7a range. A 7a+ or a 7b would be a huge accomplishment for me.

 

Wishlist

  • Tabernacle – 6b
  • Trous line – 6b+
  • Zagreb – 6c
  • Bonnye and Clyde – 6c
  • Pony boy – 6c
  • Back to black – 6c
  • Equinoxe – 6c
  • Bleu comme l’enfer – 6c+
  • Gelati Dolomiti – 7a
  • Ananda – 7a
  • Saint Georges Picos – 7a
  • Un pont sur l’infini – 7a
  • L’été céüsien – 7a
  • Angel dust – 7a+
  • Retour en Afrique ou Cheyenne automne – 7a+
  • Petite illusion – 7a+
  • Pourquoi pas – 7a+
  • Beau mouvement sur fond bleu – 7a+
  • Lapinerie – 7b
  • Dietetic line – 7b
  • 2001 – L’odyssée du grimpeur – 7b
  • Blocage violent – 7b+

 

Cheers and see you soon!

My first 5.12

It has happened! Out of the blue … exactly 501 days after I send my first 7a (5.11d), I was able to climb my first 5.12a (7a+) just last week.

The funny thing is, I have yet to climb a second 7a (although I have a feeling that a few of these will go in Céüse).

Last Wednesday, I went up to a local crag with my climbing partner. We’ve been there once before and I already had two goes on the route the last time we were there.

This is a limestone crag with good but not perfect rock. It is a bit crumbly in some places. There is everything from severely overhanging routes to heinous slabs. Some of the faces are really impressive and there is even a 9a which has seen an ascent by Adam Ondra. All in all a very good summer crag!

The route that I climbed has the crux low down. You take a slippery right sidepull and a shitty left sidepull/crimp and do an uncomfortable leap to a big jug with your left. I had done the move before but still needed five or six tries on my first go that day.

I didn’t expect anything and just continued to put the draws in. The route felt harder than last time.

After the big throw, you get to some easier jug hauling and then you can find a few no-hands rest on the upper part, just before the second crux.

Last time I was on the route, I couldn’t find any beta for the balancy clip of the last draw. You traverse left on top of a small bulge and are constantly at risk of just barn-dooring off the holds. Clipping is quite the challenge.

On that day, however, I found a nice and stable position, which allowed me to clip the draw and do the following moves.

Now that I had all the moves figured out and put in the draws, I was anxious for that second go, as this certainly seemed to be possible.

I took a long rest and belayed my friend who worked a hard 7b which had an impossible looking crux section. He figured it out on his second go and was banking on the third to get the route done.

My second go went pretty well, I got through the lower crux and managed the off-balance clip. Now, it was just a few moves to the chains. I took a small right hand crimp, smeared my left foot onto the wall and grabbed a half-decent pinch with my left. Then it was another throw to the finishing jug and the route would be put to bed.

I set up for the big move, threw my left to the jug, stuck it, … and barn-doored off of it after a split-second as I couldn’t find a good position for my right foot. I took a big whipper and screamed in anger for letting go on the final move.

Next time, I thought, and watched my friend cruise the crux of the 7b. He came to an easier section but he hadn’t looked at it enough and fell off because he was just too pumped.

It was my time again. I executed every move almost perfectly and felt a lot fresher when I came to the final moves. I was in the same position as last go, just with a lot more juice in my forearms. I misgrabbed that left hand pinch but was able to readjust and set up for the final throw. This time I will not let go, I thought to myself. I grabbed the finishing jug and held it for a short time but my body was not in balance and no matter how much I wanted to stay on that hold, I just had to let go and ended up hanging in the rope a few metres below. Fuck! I wasn’t sure if I had enough energy for a fourth go…

After a long break, my friend tied in for his final go of the day. He climbed up to the crux but nothing worked anymore. He was just too exhausted and struggled even to get the draws out. I knew that the time of truth had come.

I felt low on energy, although I had just rested for more than an hour. I never get 4 good goes in a day. Never. Still, I was so close! Twice! I just had to fight through it.

This time, I didn’t climb perfectly. I made lots of tiny mistakes and struggled on moves that felt easy before. Somehow, I ended up just below the top, managed to clip the last draw and was 6 moves away from glory.

I grabbed the right crimp, pinched with my left and threw everything I had into that final leap. Seconds later, I had clipped the chains. Victory! My first 5.12a! I was trembling with joy as my friend lowered me.

 

This is a great confidence boost just before the trip starts. I’ll be already in Céüse this time next week but I have two posts scheduled which will come out while I’m away in climbing wonderland.

 

See you soon!

Cheers.

Last adjustments

I am exactly 13 days out from my first day of climbing in Céüse. During the last 4 to 6 weeks, I tried to get as fit as I could with my finger injury still healing. You already know that I did a lot of power endurance training and I had 2 posts just about this.

Here are some of the other things that I did and that I’ll do until we finally go away and climb for 2 weeks.

My first concern was power. I actually had a power phase planned but my finger made all plans obsolete and I had to do something else. In order to still gain some power, I had to get creative and work around the injury. For the first two or three weeks, dynamic loading of the finger was out of the question. This meant that I could neither do limit boulder problems nor campus boarding. Thus, I decided to train my big pull muscles with explosive pull-ups and explosive straight-arm lat pull-downs. I also figured that training minimum edge hangs might be a good substitute for bouldering on small holds because they are generally pretty specific to outdoor climbing. I performed 1-2 sessions of the pull exercises and minimum edge hangs per week.

Another thing I wanted to address was the fact that I probably wouldn’t be able to use middle/ring-pockets or index/middle/ring-pockets because my finger was just hurting too much. Therefore, every time I climbed at the climbing wall, I would perform a few index/middle-pocket hangs after a warm-up and before doing more climbing. I figured that pulling with this finger combination was just a case of something that I had to get used to. I think this is more a neurological adaptation than really gaining strength here. It worked out quite well and I am now using this combination instead of using middle/ring, which I’d normally do.

A third factor that I started to work on right after the injury is the mental side of climbing. Pro-climbers often talk about route visualization and how important it is to prepare mentally. In fact, you don’t even have to visualize a specific route. You can also recreate certain situtations in your mind (being pumped, being afraid, falling, clipping, sending) and you will become more comfortable when you are actually climbing. These techniques get better and better the more you practice. Here are some resources where people talk about practicing visualization and training your mind:

  1. Podcast with  Jerry Moffat about his upcoming book on sports psychology
  2. Hazel Findlay on preparing your mind and finding success
  3. Adam Ondra on preparing for competitions
  4. Pro tips and motivation from Jerry Moffat

Alright, that’s it for this week.

See you next Tuesday!

Power endurance progress

It is incredibly hot in Vienna. Incredibly hot! The season of sweat has arrived and the temperatures rarely drop below 30 °C anymore. I’m sitting hunched over below the 45, day in day out, sweat dropping from my eyebrows, shirt soaked and I am wondering if this is worth it.

What I’m talking about?

Power endurance training!

It’s been two weeks since I started some serious PE training and I thought this would be a good time to recapitulate how all this is going.

As I outlined before, I started with a 20-move circuit on the steep board which I could barely redpoint. I have now gotten to the point that I can redpoint it relatively comfortably on my first go of the day but performance rapidly drops on subsequent reps.

A problem that I have run into is that it is now way too hot and my hands are just too sweaty for the circuit. I have reverted to using all foot-holds instead of using small jibs only. I am also trying to extend moves rather than diminishing rest periods as this seems more productive right now. I can now do 32 moves on the steep board. When I first tried as many moves as possible about a week ago, I only managed about 25 moves. That’s an improvement!

Another thing that I realized was that my skin just can’t take 2 – 3 sessions a week on the steep board. Thus, I have integrated an alternative power endurance exercise which I do about once a week: Foot-on campusing.

For those not familiar with this exercise for PE training, Steve McClure explains it in this article.

I started out doing 1:30 minutes on / 5 minutes off and can now do 2 minutes on / 5 minutes off. Going ok, I guess.

However, I find training power endurance to be very draining, especially in the heat, and I hope that I can get out more during the next two weeks to do my PE training on real rock.

Otherwise everything is going roughly as planned.

Have a nice Tuesday everybody!
Cheers.

Belaying: the unlikely cause of injuries

Sometimes you get tweaks and niggles or light injuries and it is obvious where they come from. Say you took a weird fall while bouldering, landed awkwardly and wake-up with a stiff neck the next day. In that case, it is very obvious were that stiff neck came from.

Sometimes, however, it is a bit different. There’s some little tweak that flares up from time to time and you actually have no idea where that tweak is coming from.

Today, I want to talk about one of those ‘unlikely’ causes of small injuries or soreness that you can’t really wrap your head around: belaying.

Disclaimer: This is not a post on how to belay. If you’re not sure how to belay, get lessons from an experienced instructor. Safety always comes first!

The obvious tweak you can get from belaying all-day is belayer’s neck. It is caused by looking up all the time and usually presents itself with pain and stiffness in the neck. You can resolve this issue by wearing belay-glasses. There are also some exercises to strengthen your neck muscle and postural cues to avoid belayer’s neck (outlined here by Jared Vagy).

Another thing that happened to me recently was some sort of shoulder soreness from belaying. At first, I wasn’t sure where it was coming from but I soon identified my belaying technique as the root cause. I had pain in my right shoulder and the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint were very stiff.

For a few months now, I have been climbing with my girlfriend more regularly and as she dislikes bouldering, we’ve been going to an indoor rope-climbing wall. She exclusively topropes and wants the rope to be fairly tight most of the time. I have found that when I pull-in rope and try to keep the rope tight (I use a Grigri by the way), I often find myself in an awkward position with my arm pulling backwards and sideways with the elbow flaring out (away from my body) while I’m looking up. This motion is basically yanking on my rotator cuff and it was the cause of the stiffness I experienced.

Usually, I exclusively belay lead climber which means that I don’t really have to pull-in a lot of rope. Therefore, this is less of a problem with lead belaying.

There are two things that I did to fix this condition. First, I paid more attention to my arm when belaying. I try to keep my elbow close to my body and avoid flaring it out in order to reduce stress on my rotator cuff. Secondly, I push the rope into the Grigri with my other hand (holding the rope above the belay device) and subsequently have to pull less with my right hand. This has also helped a lot!

Sometimes, I also switch to a tube-style device for belaying. This is actually a really good solution for me because I’m left-handed. With the Grigri I have to use my right hand as the brake hand because there’s no other way to operate it. With my ATC Guide I actually use the left hand as the brake hand (belaying with an ATC was also the first belaying technique that I learned when I started climbing). This gives my right hand a rest and I can alternate between the two devices if I want to alternate hands (Don’t alternate hands if you’re right-handed and don’t use a tube-style device if you weren’t taught how to use it).

The lesson here is that you should pay attention to unlikely causes of injuries and soreness. Sometimes it is not even climbing related but could be something like the position of your mouse-arm at work.

When belaying, pay attention to your posture and observe carefully if any motion that you’re doing feels a bit awkward or likely to induce soreness. Keep your elbow close to your body when pulling in rope in order to avoid stress on your rotator cuff. Remember that safety always comes first. I could correct my belaying technique without making any sacrifices in safety. Make sure that any correction you make does not impede safety!

 

Cheers!

Training power endurance

It’s Tuesday already? Oh yes it is!

Times flying by when you’ve got a lot on your plate.

Nevermind, I promised a longer post last week and I am not one to disappoint my dear readers.

I would like to start of with some good news on the injured finger front: It hasn’t returned to full strength yet but it feels really f*cking good! I can climb relatively hard, hang from relatively small edges and don’t feel any pain in most grip positions. At times it still feels a bit insecure but I guess that’s just the name of the game.

I was able to prove how good my finger is when I was able to onsight 6c (5.11a) last Friday! This is my first onsight of the grade and I almost topped it with a redpoint of a nice 7a+ (5.12a) but botched a delicate sequence right before the top after breezing through the lower crux. I hope I will return soon and finally get my first 5.12-route.

Ok, so that’s about it on the climbing side of things. Time to talk some training!

 

Power endurance

I’m heading to Céüse in about 6 weeks and I know from experience that I will get incredibly pumped on those long, immaculate limestone routes. Thus, it is time for some power endurance (or strength endurance) training.

My approach towards this quality includes two components. The first component is frequent outdoor climbing, trying to get flashes or quick redpoints. This works power endurance and specific rock-skills (footwork, reading rock, clipping, lead-head…) at the same time and will hopefully shorten the time that I need to reacquaint myself with the climbing in Céüse.

The second component is some serious training on the steep board at my local climbing wall. You should always train specifically for your objectives in order to get optimal results. So at the start of my thought process, I figured out what type of routes I want to climb in Céüse. I came to the conclusion that I will climb routes in the 25 to 35 metre range which will be slightly overhanging, very pocketed and generally quite pumpy and sustained.

This would mean you should climb on similar terrain and on problems of similar length in order to have the perfect preparation.

I admit that a 45°-board might be a bit steeper than the walls in Céüse but that is the only option I have. Regarding grip type, I am somewhat limited because I can’t really use 2-finger pockets with my injured finger, so I decided to go for large open-hand holds instead and hope that I’ll be able to use pockets soon. I also train the index/middle-finger combo on the hangboard. An advantage of this approach is that the bigger jugs are not as friction dependend as smaller holds. At my wall, it has become unbearably hot again and I tend to grease off every hold that needs at least some amount of friction.

On the board, I set a 20 move circuit which is consistently difficult and has no distinct crux sections. If you want to get your power endurance up, it is important that you complete a certain number of moves rather than falling at some arbitrary point because a crux move was too difficult for you. The plan is to do that 20 move circuit 3 times with a certain amount of rest in between tries. This constitutes one series. After the series you take a longer rest of 10 to 15 minutes and do another series afterwards.

Initially, I will start with a 2 minute rest between sets and then gradually decrease rest times every week until I can hopefully link the circuit 3 times with no rest, making it a 60-move pump fest.

The reasoning behind eventually doing a 60 move circuit is that routes in Céüse tend to be longer climbs (from 25 metres all the way up to 60 metre monster pitches) and 60 moves roughly falls into the length of 25-35 metres.

If you want to do similar training, I’d advise you to set a very good circuit first. Spend some time on this, as it will greatly influence how effective your training will be. I took about 2 sessions to finalize my circuit and I chased multiple dead-ends in the process. Actually, I wanted to have 3 different circuits but made 2 circuits which were too hard and ended up deciding to use only the one circuit.

Another trick is to use small screw-on foot-jibs only, as this will slow down your climbing and make your pace more similar to outdoor climbing. Small footholds on a steep board also train core strength and are, in my opinion, the best way to replicate insecure foot placements outdoors.

During your sessions, pay attention to where you fall on your circuit. If you fall after only a few moves, you shouldn’t consider this attempt as a proper repetition. Take a small rest instead and try to link the circuit again. You don’t have to ‘send’ the circuit every time but you should get far enough to feel a burning pump in your forearms. If you’re sending every time, your circuit may have become too easy and you should decrease rest times. If you can link your circuit 3 times back-to-back, you should change it to make it harder.

You can increase the number of series you do in a session as you get better. This will increase work capacity and give you more quality attempts when it comes to actual outdoor climbing. My goal is to eventually do 6 series in a session, so that I can have 4 to 5 good goes on my outdoor projects in a day.

That’s everything I have to say about training power endurance for climbing right now and I’m excited to see how my plan will work out.

 

Wish me luck, have a great week and feel the pump!

 

Cheers!