سایت جامع آموزش کوهنوردی
تکنیک های عمومی کوهنوردی و پیاده روی
تاريخ : جمعه هشتم فروردین 1393

What Girls Think (about climbing with dudes)

1559867 10153673091415573 1562941967 nBy guest blogger Georgie Abel

"You're pretty strong for a girl," he says to me. I clench my jaw. I'm sitting around a campfire in the Buttermilks with three of my closest male friends. The apparent attempt at a compliment comes from a guy we met earlier that day. The space between my shoulder blades aches from multiple burns on my project and I'm mentally exhausted. I tilt my beer back, trying to muster the energy to come back with some witty response, even though I just want to pretend I'm one of those girls who isn't bothered by a comment like that. My eye catches a glance from one of my friends. His brow furrows and his mouth looks tight, he does not approve of what the dude said. I know in that moment that I shouldn't either.

"That's a really weird thing to say," I say to the guy. "That compliment was spiked with something that feels pretty demeaning." My friend's face softens and he nods, the other guy doesn't know what to say. He doesn't climb with us the next day.

Being a climber and a writer naturally makes me a curious person. Being a woman in a sport that is ruled (for the most part) by men makes for a lot of gender-related experiences, all of which I find to be really interesting. I knew that other female climbers were interested in this too, and that they had stories of their own about being a woman in the bro-ed out world of rock climbing. I wanted to hear their stories. So, I asked.

I asked almost 100 female climbers of varying ages and ability levels to tell me a story about a notable experience they had while climbing with a male. Most of the women are from the San Francisco Bay Area, some are from elsewhere in the United States, and a few are overseas. I have kept their names anonymous, mostly for the sake of the men who their stories are about.

I have arranged this article in the same manner that the responses were received. Initially I was told about moments when women felt degraded, looked down upon, or judged. Then, slowly, the positive stories started coming in--stories of empowerment, inspiration, and recognition. You'll find those accounts toward the end of the article. No matter the age, strength, or experience level of the woman, the themes of their negative experiences could easily be grouped under a few main categories. I decided to share only a fraction of the stories I received, selecting the ones I did because they echoed what many other women had expressed, or because they were particularly hilarious.

These are the true stories of female climbers--from five-year old girls who only climb the routes in the gym that have purple tape, to professional female climbers who have established routes on multiple continents, competed for national titles, and ticked countless 5.14s. And of course, all of us in between.

Here is what we've experienced while climbing with the boys.

Making Assumptions:

  • There was no conversation about who would lead what pitch, he just assumed I didn't want to lead at all.
  • He told me not to worry because there were some smaller, easier boulders down the hill, unaware that I was completely comfortable with highballs and trying hard boulder problems.
  • He set up a top rope on a climb I had led as a warm up several times in the past and told me it would be a little heady for me.
  • He kept on shouting beta to me on a climb that was like five V-grades below what I usually climb.
  • This guy was spotting me on Acid Wash, a really low climb in the Happy boulders. I really didn't want a spot because it's so low and I had enough pads, and he wasn't spotting any of his guy friends.
  • One time a boy said I probably couldn't do the one he did because I don't play any sports.
  • All of my friends had to leave Smith, so I met up with this guy who was a mutual friend. I had never climbed with him before. We got to the wall and he started teaching me how to tie a figure eight knot. This was the day after I sent my first 5.13.

Discouraging women from trying hard, heady, or powerful climbs:

  • He told me I should stick to vertical climbing because girls aren't built to climb anything steep.
  • We were climbing at the Red and he said I shouldn't try anything in the Motherlode because women don't usually like those kinds of routes.
  • My boyfriend was belaying me on Pope's Crack in Joshua Tree and some random guy walked past him and said, "Bro, I hope you know this isn't one of those easy climbs. She probably shouldn't be on that."
  • The same dude at Dogpatch tells me not to even attempt a problem because it's too hard for me because I'm short.
  • I like climbing with girls because they say, "Good job! You're almost there!" And they cheer me on. Boys don't usually say that stuff.
  • A guy told me I probably shouldn't try any highballs because women are all afraid of heights, and the only reason why they climb heady stuff is because they want to be seen as a badass.
  • My climbing partner never encourages me to try anything harder than what he can climb.
  • One time this guy I barely knew told me that if I was going to try this certain route that I should be very careful because it's sandbagged, has tricky pro, long runouts, and insecure feet. I did the route and yeah, it was hard, but none of what he said was true.
  • He discouraged me from climbing a certain boulder problem because he said if I sent it, it would probably get downgraded.

Being Bro-ey, Cocky, or Douchy

  • When I said that I wanted to onsight a route he started racking the quick draws on to his harness and said that putting up the draws was the only was he could control the situation of me leading.
  • One time at a birthday party there was a boy who climbed all the routes I couldn't get to the top of and then he told me about it a lot.
  • He told me that I need to wear Lululemons to do a high step.
  • I was warming up in the gym and this guy started tickling me while I was climbing.
  • I don't think I'll want to climb with boys when I get older because I usually don't like people who show their nipples in public.
  • About five other girls and I were trying Go Granny Go in the Buttermilks and this guy came and did it in his approach shoes and then did pull ups on the finish jug.
  • When we were climbing in Joshua Tree he asked me and my friend if our boyfriends had given us enough pro for the climb we were about to do.
  • I climbed with a boy once and he got mad because he couldn't get to the top.
  • I was climbing a boulder problem in the local climbing gym and about four guys were watching me climb, but none of them pulled the mats underneath me. I fell and landed on the floor, which is cement.
  • There is this one guy at the gym who follows me around and only climbs the boulder problems I try, even though he is much stronger than me.
  • One time one of the boys in my climbing camp was belaying me and I looked back at him and he wasn't looking at me so I got really scared. I think he was looking at his friend doing a handstand.

Attributing our strength to something other than...our strength:

  • I overheard a guy say that the only reason why this girl sent Tales of Power in Yosemite is because she has tiny hands.
  • He told me that I was better at slab climbing than him because having my center of gravity lower on my body gives me an advantage.
  • After I sent my project, he said that it was probably easier for me than him because I weigh less.
  • Whenever I send something that climbers typically think of as "girly" (slabby, balancy, delicate, or crimpy) he always mentions that I did it because I'm a girl.
  • If I can climb a crimpy boulder problem he can't, he says it's because I have small hands.
  • One time when I was climbing with a male, I suggested that we avoid a certain pitch because I had a bad feeling about it. It looked like it could be chossy and maybe even wet. We ended up doing a variation that led us to the left of the line we were originally planning to do, and as we climbed we could see that it was in fact chossy and damp. He asked, "Who told you to avoid that pitch?" totally assuming that I couldn't have predicted the bad conditions all on my own.

So there you have it. To be honest, when the stories started rolling in, I cringed a little (after laughing out loud in a coffee shop and nodding my head in agreement). I so badly didn't want to write some man-hating article that bashed on dudes and didn't address the fact that men can be valuable climbing partners. But, that's not what I was hearing from the girls. I thought to myself: where are the stories of that time you sent your highball project because you had some burly dude spotting you? What about when that guy said, "You're gonna crush this," even after he flailed? What about when he asked you if you thought you guys should rappel down or walk off the back, because you're always good at judging that kind of stuff? What about that time it wasn't about gender at all, what about when it was just rock climbing?

Slowly, I started hearing about these experiences. I didn't have to ask for them. It usually happened like this: a woman would tell me about a time a guy did something totally degrading, and then a few minutes or days later, she would come back and say something such as, But I have a lot of male climbing partners who don't act like this. Many of them treat me no differently than their guy friends and recognize that I bring something unique and valuable to the table, that they can learn things from me that they can't learn from male climbers.

Yes, how true that is: women experience this sport in a way that is so different from men, and we all have a lot to learn from each other. All of the negative stories were that of men assuming we had nothing to teach them. That's the common thread.

I received one story about a positive experience while climbing with a male that captures the spirit and character of all the other stories as well. Here is it:

I'm all racked up. My shoes are on, uncomfortable as always. They feel tighter than normal. The brisk Squamish air bites at the back of my neck. I tuck the remaining stray peices of hair behind my helmet. I take a deep breath and look up at my climb. I think of turning to my partner and telling him to go ahead. Tie in to the sharp end, I want to say. Lead this pitch. Lead all of the pitches. It's not that hard. You're much better than me anyways. My pride or my stubbornness stops me. My male counterpart is a much stronger climber than me and he's much more experienced - perhaps not in trad climbing, but he's certainly been exposed (and exceled) at this sport much longer than I have. Squamish used to be his stomping grounds anyways and for more than one reason I feel like I haven't earned my spot here. I feel pre-emptively embarassed and also that I have something to prove. You've got this, he tells me. Against almost exactly 50% of my will, I slip my hand into the crack. I make a fist and feel the granite against my knuckles. Right, I think. This is about climbing. Four pitches later and we're at the top, looking over a beautiful deep blue sky filled with clouds and mountains. I stopped being concerned with if the climb was hard enough or if my technique was good enough a long time ago, somewhere on Pitch 1. I looked at my partner and his male-ness did not concern me, impress me, depress me, or intimidate me. In fact it did not enter into my mind at all. It was just beauty and human-ness that filled my soul now. Weeks later we are sitting in his father's kitchen, recounting details of our Canadian explorations. He says, completey seamlessly, that I'm actually the better climber in a lot of ways. I think he's insane but that is besides the point. He tells of how he respects the way I push my limits, how I deal with my fear. He is being genuine. Honest. His ego isn't in the room and though he could walk up boulder problems I could only dream of one day touching, he isn't concerned with that. He's not trying to prove anything. I didn't need his validation; certainly not in the way that I as a female would want validation from a male. It's not about who the better climber is and in what ways. It never really is about that, for me at least. I didn't need his encouragement as a male, only as a climbing partner. And yet. I have to admit that I've had enough experiences as a female climber that make me weary; weary of being judged, weary of being undervalued, weary of being categorized by something other than my experience or my ability. I'm not afraid because I'm a girl. I'm afraid because I'm 30 feet up on a highball and this crimp is fucking tiny. I'm not sending my projects - not because I'm a girl, but because I haven't been training. You can go ahead and include me in the list of people who would like to lead this pitch. I'm a girl and I'm also capable of placing gear. Sometimes those dynamics are real and sometimes they are imagined. But what a nice experience to have had, a really lovely break from the chain of stereotypical bro-yness that can wear us ladies down sometimes. I'm sure we have our own stereotypes to break too. I've tried my best to let go of taking too seriously the gendered aspect of climbing now. There are those experiences that will re-affirm the great things about climbing with guys and there are the experiences that will inspire us to prove them wrong. It's kind of a win-win if you ask me.

A sincere thank you goes to all of the women who contributed their stories. You are the authors of this article. I'll leave you with more of their words; this is very important and overdue: To the males respecting and encouraging the females out there, a big thank you. We know you need the respect and encouragement too and we've got your back.

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تاريخ : جمعه هشتم فروردین 1393

Not A Mummy: Zipper-less Design Offers New Sleeping Bag Experience

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 24.jpg

In all my years of camping I have never used a sleeping bag without zippers… until last week. Now that I have let me get this out of the way: Hallelujah!

OK, that’s out of my system. Why it took a company so long to figure out this simple design I will never know, but the to-be-released Backcountry Bed from Sierra Designs (which we awarded a Best In Showat the 2013 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market) is a somewhat revolutionary way to sleep outside.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 8.jpg

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed has no zippers and allows for easy ventilation

I tested the Backcountry Bed for four nights in a row earlier this month during the TransRockies Run camping in and around Leadville, Colo. (Note: photos in this post were shot after the test in my yard.)

Nighttime temps dropped to around 30 degrees during TransRockies, which was well above the 15-degree rating of the sleeping bag model I tested. The bag was plenty warm.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 11 (1).jpg

Pull up the attached down blanket for warmth

The Backcountry Bed design is so simple it’s silly. Basically a sleeping bag with a large hole cut out of the middle section, the “bed” uses an attached blanket to close the hole instead of a zipper. The blanket can be pulled up around the user to seal the opening.

If the bag is too warm, just fling the blanket off a little to cool down. Or hang an arm out. Or stick out a leg. Or roll on your side. The options are many, much like sleeping in a twin bed at home.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed.jpg

The Backcountry Bed with attached blanket pulled up, at left, and down

No need to roll the whole bag when wanting to sleep on your side, simply turn within the comfy bed and stretch out.

Why is it called a “bed”? Sierra Designs added a pad sleeve on the bottom. A standard sleeping pad slips into the sleeve to create a bed-like platform.

Near the bag’s temperature limitation, I expect the design may show flaws. I did notice cool air working in around the blanket on the coldest night and expect that the design is not as thermally efficient as a mummy bag.

I suspect the mummy will remain king for cold weather endeavors. But for warm to slightly cold camping, the Backcountry Bed is a welcome addition to sleeping bag options.

A bonus is the company’s 800-fill down treated with DriDown, which adds water resistance to the plumes. The down can get damp and will not clump up.

The bag is rated to 15 degrees and will retail for $399, which sounds pricey but is on par with other light down bags like this. It compresses similar to a traditional 800-fill bag of the same rating.

It will come in a 30-degree version for $349, and in long and women’s specific models.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 25.jpg

A sleeping pad slips into a sleeve on the bottom of the bed

Because the Backcountry Bed is similar in weight (2lbs for the 30-degree; 2lbs, 7oz for the 15-degree) and compressibility to other high-end sleeping bags, it should be a great option for the backpacker.

We hope the brand comes out with a cheaper synthetic-fill option for car camping and backpackers looking to save some cash. It’d weigh a little more and not be as packable, but the zipper-less design deserves to be spread across a few bag options in a line.

The Backcountry Bed will hit the market in early 2014. This is an exciting new design that should open the door to a rethinking of the way sleeping bags are made. We look forward to watching designers continue to push with this type of unique thinking on how gear can function — for comfort as well as performance — in the outdoors.

—By Sean McCoy

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تاريخ : پنجشنبه سوم مرداد 1392

این ماییم، دوباره اینجاییم. با هم هستیم ولی تنهاییم. اینجاییم نه از برای خودخواهی، نه از برای خودنمایی، اینجاییم از سر عشق، اینجاییم از سر شور، از سر غرور. اینجاییم از برای رشد، از برای اوج، از سر جنون، اینجاییم برای پایان، پایان یک آغاز، پایانی که آغازی بلند پروازانه تر را نوید دهد. 
پایانی که پایان نیست، که شالوده ی آغاز است، که پشتوانه ی آغاز است، که تیر خلاصی است بر نتوانستن ها، بر خود کم بینی ها، بر در حصار ماندن ها، بر گرفتار تکرار شدن ها. آری تیر خلاصی است بر ماندن ها، نرفتن ها، نرسیدن ها، غروبی است برای این فرسایش ها و طلوعی است برای ریشه زدن ها، برای شکوفه دادن ها. بوی خوش تغییر است و مهر ابطال است بر راکد بودن ها.

می خواهیم مال خودمان باشد، راه خودمان باشد، مسیر خودمان باشد، طناب خودمان باشد، از نفس و عرق خودمان باشد. می خواهیم توانستن را معنی کنیم، می خواهیم تغییر را زندگی کنیم، می خواهیم خواستن را بفهمیم، خواستن را بخواهیم. می خواهیم روی آن بزرگ مردی را سفید کنیم که مویش در این راه سفید شد، که قلبش در این راه شکست، که روحش در این راه درد کشید. می خواهیم پیرمردی را شاد کنیم که بغض به گلو نشسته اش فریاد شد، و فریادش به دادگاه برده شد. می خواهیم راهی را برویم که درست است، که رو به اعتلاست. می خواهیم طعنه بشنویم، مسخره شویم، مضحکه شویم، پول هایمان را هدر بدهیم، بدویم، گریه کنیم، خطر کنیم. می خواهیم کوهنورد باشیم، می خواهیم میراث بران شایسته ای باشیم، نمی خواهیم زیر چتر زور باشیم، نمی خواهیم کور باشیم.

آری، ما اینجاییم، تا یادی از کوهنوردی اینک مرده ی کشورمان کنیم، تا کوهنوردی مان را دوباره ورق بزنیم، تا یادگاری از خودمان به جا بگذاریم، توشه ای  برای کوهنوردان آینده ی کشورمان. اینجاییم تا بر تن یک کوه هشت هزار متری یادگاری خودمان را بنویسیم، نام  ایران مان را حک کنیم، اینجاییم تا دوباره زنده شدن را زمزمه کنیم.

ارسال توسط ایلیا
تاريخ : شنبه دوم دی 1391

Knot Tying for Climbers

The ability to tie knots correctly is an essential skill for climbers and many others involved in extreme sports. Correctly tying in and anchoring is essential to the safety of the climber and his/her partners. An incorrectly tied climbing knot may lead to an unprotected fall. Several knots are commonly used in climbing, listed below. Reviewing and practicing them with a friend will help keep you sharp for the time a particular climbing knot is needed.

Climbing Knot vs Rope Strength

A key component of the climbing knot is the rope strength. The quality of the knot can actually influence the load your rope can withstand. Your skill in knot tying (how clean is your knot) will influence the breaking strength of a rope, and add to your safety while climbing.

Dress up the Climbing Knot

This refers to tightening and setting the knot in a way that the rope does not cross (twist) over itself within the knot; and refers to the knot being tightened evenly. Climbing knots should be uniformly tight and the rope should not twist within the knot. When the rope is twisted or the knot is unevenly tightened it puts stress on parts of the fibers and unintentionally weaken the rope.

The Bowline Knot. This is a popular and versatile climbing knot. This knot can be tied with one hand, making it a versatile knot to know how to tie. The bowline is commonly used to tie into a climbing harness. It is easy to tie and untie even after weight has been put on it.

The bowline knot is made by creating a loop in the rope a couple feet from the end, then passing the end over the edge of the loop and back through the hole. The bowline can be tied with one hand. This feature makes it a valuable knot for climbers.

A good way to remember the bowline sequence is this simple phrase: "The rabbit comes out of his hole, around a tree, and back into his hole.

Sequence to Tie a Bowline Knot:

Bowline Knot-11. Start by making a loop as shown.
Bowline Knot-22. Pass the end of the rope through the loop-over then under.
Bowline Knot-33. Pass the end around then back through the loop original loop. Tighten the knot evenly by hand and secure the end using a stopper knot.

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تاريخ : جمعه یکم دی 1391

Part 2

This article is aimed at those of you who have done a bit of fingerboarding before, or are simply dead strong and want some ideas about how to make a new fingerboard training plan for maximum gains.

Rather than offering example training plans, this will simply offer advice and ideas about various fingerboarding exercise and how they can be used and built up into a fingerboard workout. It is presumed that you will have read the previous article and maybe even done some of the exercises. If there is anything you don't understand, the chances are it will be explained there.

Advanced Fingerboard Training - Ned Feehally planetFear

The idea with fingerboarding is to place a load on the fingers, to which your body will respond by making the fingers stronger. Finger strength is climbing. Without it you will not climb hard. It's that simple.

Back in the days of lycra, fingerboarding generally consisted of doing maximum 1 armed hangs off an edge. This is great and played a part in forming some of the strongest sets of fingers the world has ever seen (Malcolm Smith, Jerry Moffatt, Ben Moon etc.) however more recently a few new ideas are floating about.

The idea of training the hand as groups of fingers, rather than a whole hand is seldom practiced, but I think it is incredibly useful. Dan Varian wrote an excellent article about this "3,2,1 theory" which can be found on the Beastmaker website (http://www.beastmaker.co.uk/Grip-article.htm). Basically it suggests to train the fingers in groups. Start training them in a 4, then remove a finger - so your hanging off the front 3 or back 3 fingers. When this gets too easy, remove another finger, and train on front 2, middle 2 and back 2. Eventually you're down to hanging on one finger, effectively training them one at a time ("but at least the others get plenty of rest...").

This technique allows you to identify weaknesses in your fingers, and train them specifically (i.e. a lot of people have a very weak "back 2" and find that their overall hand strength increases alarmingly when their "back 2" strength begins to catch up with the strength of their front 2.

This same logic can be applied (albeit a bit more dangerously) to crimping. First you hang on 4 fingers, crimped. They you move on to hanging front 3 and back 3 etc. However you will probably stop before graduating onto the 1 finger crimps as by then you will find climbing far too easy and will have retired in order to give everyone else a chance to catch up.

Below are the main exercises that can be done on a fingerboard. It is worth experimenting with these to find a combination of exercise that suits you and your goals, and allows for most rapid progress. The idea is not to create a training plan for you, but to give the tools to create one for yourself, that is tailored exactly to your goals.

These exercises can be done on any combination of numbers of fingers. Taking off fingers is an excellent way of increasing difficulty. Do be careful though...

Hang for a set time, rest for a set time. Repeat. These are very effective and will leave you feeling beaten, but are perhaps more geared towards the power endurance end of things. This however does mean that you make faster gains with this than the more maximum strength based exercises. Repeaters can be altered almost infinitely to change their difficulty:

  • Vary hanging time
  • Vary resting time (between reps and sets)
  • Add weight (which can be reduced midway through a set)
  • Remove weight
  • Do on one or 2 arms

I have had a lot of success training with repeaters over the years. They seem like the best way to leave you feeling like you have had a proper workout, and that can't be a bad thing!

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تاريخ : جمعه یکم دی 1391

Part 1

First lets take a look at the basics. Your fingers are what attach you to the rock. As long as you can hold on, you have a chance of doing the next move. If you can't hold on, you have no chance!

For most people, finger strength is always the limiting factor of how hard they can climb.  Their fingers let them down way before anything else does. This means that a huge amount of their training should be focused towards getting stronger fingers. Your fingers can never be too strong! FACT


Bouldering is a great way to train the fingers if you choose your problems and angles appropriately. Climbing on steep boards with small holds is guaranteed to make your fingers work hard, and consequently adapt and become stronger. However, if you want to make the fastest improvements in finger strength it's all about the fingerboard. Fingerboards allow you to isolate grip positions and train them to their maximum without any other factors getting in the way. When you are simply hanging off your fingers you are not going to be limited at all by body strength, technique, feet popping off etc. meaning you are training your fingers and your fingers only.


Ned Feehally Fingerboard Training Beginner planetFear

This gets covered over and over again, but I will cover it here for completeness. There are 3 main grip types. Full crimp, half crimp and open hand (see video). The full crimp is when your thumb is wrapped over your fingers. I never train with my thumb on (as it tends to tear the skin on the sides of my index fingers) but I save it for special occasions (when I want to climb hard)! Instead I train in the half crimped position. This has 2 forms, pinkie straight and pinkie bent (both with the other 3 fingers bent). I find that for maximum crimp strength, I have to train with pinkie bent. Weather you crimp with a bent pinkie finger or not comes down to the difference in length between you ring finger and your pinkie. If they are of similar length it is more natural for your pinkie to bend when crimping, otherwise it will remain straight. 

The open handed grip, with fingers totally straight, is used on slopers and pockets. It is often neglected by people but is a very useful strength to have as it allows you to catch holds at full stretch and/or at speed, before reeling them into a crimp position.

All grip positions are illustrated in the video above.


Climbers tend to favour a particular grip type, so they naturally develop a bias towards holding holds in a certain way. In order to become a well balanced climber capable of climbing everything in your path it is worth ironing out these discrepancies in your fingers.

The literature suggests that training the fingers in one position will strengthen them for that position only (plus or minus a 15 degree angle either way). This means that to train for crimps you need to crimp, and to train for slopers and pockets, you must hang open handed. Strength gains for one grip type will not necessarily transfer to another grip type, so train them all (prioritising the weaker areas).



There is still an old-school attitude floating about that crimping is dangerous and shouldn't be trained. Well, this is rubbish. Crimping is the strongest way to hold small edges (which make up the majority of handholds) so needs to be trained. If you are careful you can easily make vast improvements in crimp strength without getting any sign of injuries, and this means you are at a reduced risk of injuring your fingers when out climbing as you are prepared for hard crimping.

Fingerboard Training Beginners Ned Feehally planetFear


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تاريخ : جمعه یکم دی 1391

Being good at rock climbing is all about learning proper technique and then ingraining it so it becomes second nature. In the long run, technique will take you much further than a strong back and a vice grip. Yet most climbers are hyper-focused on trying to “get stronger” … oftentimes at the expense of learning good tecehnique

Emily Harrington, who has climbed multiple 5.14’s in various stages of personal fitness, recognizes the superlative of proper technique. Emily has been climbing for 13 years, putting in well over the requisite “10,000 hours” one supposedly needs to master any craft. As a result, she believes that no matter what shape she’s in, she will always be able to climb at a baseline of 5.12a throughout life

“If you know how to move your body, you should be able to climb 5.12a,” Emily says, “no matter how ‘strong’ you are

This may seem surprising to the climbers out there for whom 5.12a is a lifetime goal, yet the point is not that 5.12 is “easy,” but rather that proper technique honed over many hours of practice is more enduring than one’s momentary form (strength and fitness). The problem is, it’s easier to get stronger than it is to get better. Anyone can go to the gym and rip off a bunch of reps or climb a bunch of boulder problems and feel as though they have accomplished something. Training with the goal of improving technique is more cerebral, requiring a certain degree of consciousness about what you’re doing. This is because good technique is all about ingraining movements, coordinating the upper and lower body and maintaining awareness of how much effort you’re expending to the point that it becomes second nature. Great climbers aren’t thinking about what they need to do—they just do the exact right thing. This is the art of free climbing

Improvements in one’s technique are much less tangible—harder to measure or gauge. Thus, it can be difficult to know how to approach the gym with the goal of becoming a better free climber. Here are a few tips that you may find useful

First, be good: Many beginner and intermediate climbers have approached me wanting to know how to get strong, but I’ve never heard anyone ask how to get good. The two are undoubtedly related. But instead of jumping on the hardest route or boulder problem you think you can do, focus on making perfect ascents of easier routes and problems. Try to be good before you try to be strong. How perfectly can you climb something

Bad feet: Problems in the gym typically get harder as the hand holds become worse and farther apart, while usually the foot jibs remain pretty good. But if you have the ability to help set some problems wherever you climb indoors, I recommend setting decent hand holds and the worst, most polished, difficult-to-stand-on footholds you can find. You want them to be bad, but not so bad that you just force a campus move. You want the focus to be on using your feet properly—the first and most lastingly important step in becoming good. As a double benefit, nothing will get you stronger than climbing problems with bad feet

Master the back-step: One of the most useful maneuvers in climbing is the back-step, where you stand on the outside edge of your right foot and rotate your lower body so that your right hip is against the wall (or vice versa). Most people climb straight on, with their hands and feet set as if they were climbing up a ladder. If you watch great climbers, they are rarely so squared up; one hip or another is always twisted toward the wall, with a foot back-stepping. Also, focus on getting into back-steps quicker. Many climbers put, say, their left foot on a hold, then match their right foot on the hold in the back-step position. Instead of messing around with matching feet, many times it’s better to cross the right leg over and get into the back-step right away

Stand Up: You’ve undoubtedly heard the advice, “Keep your arms straight!” But, of course, if your arms were straight the whole time, you wouldn’t be able to flex them to pull yourself upward. When you’re hanging on holds, indeed, it’s a good idea to keep your arms straight. But the second part of this advice that's left out is how to begin initiating your upward movement. Typically, beginners will initiate the move with their arms: pulling themselves up, locking off like on a pull-up bar, with their feet way low. Instead, try to always initiate your upward movement with your legs. Keep your arms straight and lever yourself upward by pressing with your feet. Eventually, you'll have to flex your arms, but try to do so only after you’ve initiated the upward movement with the legs--even if it's just a little bit. Teach yourself what this feels like by climbing easy (5.6) routes in the gym. Hang from straight arms and try to drive yourself upward as far as you can by high-stepping your feet and using only your leg muscles to stand up on every hold

Wear better shoes: Beginners typically choose loose-fitting “comfortable” shoes. But no matter what grade you climb, I recommend you get a high-end pair of shoes that are snug (not tight!). Higher end shoes give you much more precision, and do a better job of  allowing you to use all parts of your foot. This is the one and only piece of gear that can actually make a difference in your climbing! Get the best fitting pair of high-end shoes you can find

Develop your own style: Something that often gets lost when "experts" try to teach beginners how to climb/what to do is that there is no such thing as one perfect way to climb a route or problem. There are no hard and fast rules. For some climbers, the best solution to a problem will be to climb fast and very dynamically—it’s possible that this will be more efficient for them. Others may find it works better for them to climb at a slower pace, more statically and with greater control. This is where free climbing becomes an art of self-expression. Cherish this. For example, in his clinics, Dave Graham spends a lot of time helping people develop their own styles by having a group of people figure out two or three different beta sequences that work on a given problem. Try to climb a problem two or three different ways. See what works for you. Don't be afraid to experiment. Perhaps it’s easiest to just dyno! Ultimately, the best style is the one that gets you to the top most efficiently

Avoid finger injuries: Have you ever noticed that climbers typically blow a tendon within their first three years of climbing? Beginner climbers tend to race through the grades relying on rapid strength gains, not technique, which creates a false sense of ability that encourages them to get on hard, crimpy routes before their tendons are ready for them. While the musculature may be there, building up the tendon resilience to withstand the stress of hanging from small holds takes a long time—sometimes three years or more. Avoid finger injuries by using the open-hand grip indoors whenever you can. Also, STOP crimping before your fingers feel sore! Admittedly, this is easier said than done

Build a base: Dani Andrada, one of the best climbers in the world, was rumored to have redpointed 50 5.13b’s before he even considered getting on a 5.13c. While those grades are admittedly elite, the lesson still applies: Take the time needed to master the easier grades before moving on. Did you redpoint 50 5.11d’s before even trying a 5.12a

Make climbing a practice: We try to perform our best every single time we enter the gym or a crag. Instead, start thinking of your climbing sessions as a practice. If you climb two or three times per week—don’t worry, the strength will come. But for right now, focus on mastering good technique

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