Sep 28, 2011

A Waste of Space

“It is not that we have a short space of time,
but that we waste much of it."

I propose substituting climbing gym wall space for space of time in the quote above. I have visited more gyms than I care to admit, and that is true for 99.99% of them. It is a combination of incorrect vision and improper execution. Their vision does not serve the needs of the community, which could range from a sedentary person's 1st climb to the local "rockstar" trying to break into the 5.14s. Instead, gyms focus on getting people in the door with "that looks cool" factor. These travesties include belay ledges, roofs, inverted staircases, and anything that can be labeled "natural." These climbing features are carnival toys, played with hard for a day and forgotten about. From my experience, the worst set 5.4 gets more traffic than the best indoor crack.

The lack of vision is compounded in the execution phase. This includes not enough t-nuts to texture that rips your shoe rubber off. The last step in the execution phase is routesetting. The biggest sin I have seen lately is "hold blocking." Hold blocking is setting a later climb with large marcos in the flight path of an previous (frequently harder) climb. Again this is taking the easier path over serving the needs of everyone in the community.

The list of particular gyms guilty of not serving their community is too long to call out for this post. However, one gym I can highlight as a shining positive beacon is Movement for both its vision and execution. It is physically a small gym but NONE of its wall space is wasted. That is one of the reasons they are hosting a World Cup on American soil.

Sep 24, 2011

Which Way Do You Hang?

Hangobarding, when done properly, will make you stronger. That macro-question has an unequivocal answer. That leaves many micro-questions remaining. Which board? What is the proper work to rest ratios? What is the best length for a training cycle? This article tackles one of those micro-questions. Should you hangboard with 1 or 2 arms?

The jury is out. Peter Beal advocates a mix. On the other hand, Mike Anderson suggests two armed. He points out the difference between the two methods in transferability. Hangboarding is specific physical preparedness (SPP), the specific physical skills needed to advance in a sport. Hangboarding is the best method to create strong fingers with minimal risk. Once you have the strong fingers you have to do something with them. Therefore I'm not looking for direct transferability. I'm training to get a bigger engine that I will tune later. Additionally, I prefer empirical results over theoretical musing, praxis over theoria.

Your body doesn't "know" where you are hanging on 1 or 2 arm. Your body only "knows" there is a stress. If the stress is the appropriate intensity and duration, your body will adapt. Therefore it shouldn't matter which why you hang. The secret sauce is systematic, progressive overload.

Sep 13, 2011

Climbing Commands Reframe

Context by my favorite indoor ripper

I have instructed the basics of top rope belaying a lot. I view it (like many of my interests) as a craft. I'm consistently finding ways to make my teaching more effective and efficient. One key breakthrough I made is reframing the "Climbing Commands" as a dialogue between the climber and the belayer. The word command implies an order and does not necessarily imply successful understanding on the receiver's end. The word dialogue implies an exchange where each party is a participate. I prefer to think of (and teach) it as a series of questions and answers. The climber asks a question and the belayer answers. Example:

Climber: On Belay?
Belayer: Belay on.

Climber: Climbing?
Belayer: Climb on.

Climber: Take?
Belayer: Gotcha.

Climber: Ready to Lower?
Belayer: Lowering.

This subtle shift inherently improves the relationship between the climber and belayer. It encourages a better system that is less prone to miscommunication and the subsequent mistakes.

Sep 8, 2011

Video: "Free But Not Cheap" Poudre Canyon, CO

"Free But Not Cheap"
No Stars

The Approach: PMA crag is listed in the Poudre Canyon Guidebook and on Mountain Project. It is the second set of bolts from the left.

The Story: The name is an inside (of my head) joke. The route is fun and overhanging, aka your feet get freedom, but there is a crux to pay, not cheap for the grade. Horrible junk rock, so bad that I "cleaned" with a soft bristle brush a jug into the wall when I bolted it (Baby Jesus please forgive me). It is the second warm-up of PMA crag, preparing you for the harder routes and makes their marginally better rock seem very solid.

There are two separate, but equal, methods to solve the crux at the 3rd bolt. A static method involving a sharp, thin pinch and the much more fun dynamic method demonstrated in the video. For full value, mantle the top of the cliff

Footnote: I repeated it on my birthday. However, I couldn't send my adjacent project. No cake for me!