My climbing learnings

Me climbing 5c (white route).
Photo: Carolina Ferranti.

I have been climbing couple of years now. And there are few things I have learned, which I try to apply during my climbing practices. Some of these learnings come from my friends, some from observing fellow climbers. I hope you find them useful and inspiring for your own climbing practices.

Think how to start

Good flow in the route makes climbing much more enjoyable and satisfying. When starting with the right foot and handhold it is possible to discover the flow of the route which results in elegant and flowing moves. Also in less tiredness due to the appropriate technique body is following, meant for that route. Another benefit is reducing need for changing feet and hands during the climb. That interrupts the flow, as well as the climber can miss technique which was meant for that moment to make climb more efficient and/or easier. That’s why before starting the route I look at the first handholds to understand which feet should go first, to get in the flow and to enjoy the climb.

Handholds show the way

When I just started climbing, I didn’t pay too much attention how handholds are placed on the route. I was trying to “just to go up”, do the route in one go and not to fall :D. During one of the practices as I was getting ready to start my route, a fellow climber told me to pay attention on the way how handholds are placed along the route. He said that handhold position is already indicating me how to approach that hold. Some holds have deep grips behind so you grab them from top, some are placed sideways, so you need to pull on them with one or other side of your body, some are round and are meant for pushing on them, etc. In every of these situations, there will be a different body position required. It was a very useful point for me, because it change the way I looked at the holds and how I was climbing.

Feet first

Some time after I started to climb in our group we decided to take a technique lesson to improve our climbing performance. It was one time lesson, with one of the climbing gym instructors following our normal practice and giving tips as we were climbing. One of the most important advises I got during that practice was to first see where I placed my feet and only after look for handholds. I’m still following this guideline. It gives me confidence that I have placed my feet properly, that they hold and I can trust them to go for the handhold. Another advice I learned from that training was to take my time and climb with my mind. Be in the moment and focus on each hold and feet placement rather than being distracted by the environment around me. The mindful climbing is something I am still working on. Not every training it works right away, but once it does, I am able to give my whole self in for the climb and I love that.

Hard climbs for stress relief

For me it often takes several routes until I manage to get into the flow and be present during my climbing. When I feel that I cannot get my mind cooperating, I take a level harder route to climb hard, sometimes even fall, just to get my anxiety out. That helps to reset my mind and switch the present moment on. I’m always grateful for these moments because it helps me to enjoy climbing more, get to the focus and work on my climbing performance.

Flow matters

For me the flow matters. When I’m in the flow, even on a hard route, I know that I applied the right technique, I read the route correctly and I feel much more satisfied after. When I’m in process of working on specific route to get better, first I try to reduce blocks I need to get to the top (resting moments while rope is holding me). Then I try to do it in one go and glue all the moves together. And finally, get into the flow and try to climb elegantly. That makes me truly satisfied because saves my energy and power as well as looks effortless. I admire climbers who can go up the wall like feathers smoothly dancing their way up. That’s my ultimate goal for my own climbing style.

Things to still work on

There are many things I still want to work on but few first ones are to learn to breath during the climb (I do breath, don’t get me wrong, but during challenging moves I hold my breath and I come down the route out of breath) and to find sufficient resting points and techniques for better energy management during the climb.

What learnings have you made in your climbing experience? Comment below and let’s help each other to get better.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next post.