Assuming that by now everyone has grasped that I live in Norfolk miles away from any rock whatsoever, I have a family and other commitments such as pretending to work, and yet I want to climb as hard as I possibly can. At the moment, this means trying to push my grade up to a certain level both indoors, but most importantly on the slate.
Therefore, it seems that there are two distinct strategies. One would be to strictly audit my time, and allocate what there is available to a clearly structured and periodised climbing plans.
The other strategy is to try and find a load of activities that I can pretend in some way mimic the- highly specific- activity of climbing, in order to make some kind of improvement in weird areas such as knot tying, which might equate to a 1% increase in performance due to, say, getting less pumped on a clip.
Strategy 1 - the plan - is sensible and a proven route to improvement. Guess which one I have plumped for!
Have a look at my previous post about maximising my training gains, which outlines the philosophy and also some basic exercises. It's more in the same vein.
1. You need to find some jams.
|Excruciating... but solid|
Hand jamming is an important addition to your repertoire of moves. Fair go, it doesn't come up in bouldering that much, but if you want to d classic Joe Brown routes on the trad, because you're so fucking gnarly... then you've got to jam.
Classic example: The File at Higgar Tor. VS. V fucking S, but if you can't hand jam its impossible. I know this for a fact.
To jam that well, you need a theoretical understanding of the opposing kinetic forces. Also, a high pain threshold and the experience to know that what feels as insecure as sinking an ice-axe into milk is actually bomber.
Round here: its trees. Look for parallel tree stems which are about a hands width apart. This is going to hurt...
This is one of those funny mental things like seeing fish in a river. You're mate says 'look at those fish in the river, you say 'what fish?' cause there aren't any. Then you see one! Then you see the lot of them.
Hand-jam in practise and suddenly! the existence of jams leaps out at you! You can rest on them! You can climb on them! The climbing cognoscenti - unimpressed by heel-hooks and knee-bars any more - will cheer as you do one on an indoor boulder problem!
2. Tiptoe everywhere.
Using footwork is an essential part of climbing, often neglected by beginners and males with huge gorilla like shoulders and completely un-worn shoe soles.
By tiptoeing round the house, you will increase proprioception. Proprioception is an important term which you should use at any opportunity. It means the process by which the brain recognises and learns physical movement within the body. The brain, being essentially a lazy lump of electric fat, doesn't pay attention to the ins and outs of which muscle is being switched on. Once its learnt how to move your limbs, which it had to do twice : first when you were a toddler; then when you were a teenager. From then on, it is simply the boss of your body: shouting 'you lot! get on with it' at its most experienced workers.
But unfamiliar movements are in fact unfamiliar. By tiptoeing round the place, as if the one-year-old is having a nap and you daren't wake her, you are learning to engage your toes and therefore take weight off your arms. This has unbelievable application to overhangs.
Conscious and deliberate planning of your climb will give enormous benefits, but not easily. Its a pretty unnatural skill, and trying to remember sequences of moves can only be improved by deliberate practise.
|The striking arete of no. 27.|
Therefore, you need to plan how you would climb the front of your house. This is fun, especially if you pretend you are a ninja planning to off the Shogun's unfaithful wife. Look for slightly uneven bricks that might make a sketchy toe-hold, big tile window ledges which are in fact bomber jugs, and features such as aretes (corners) and chimneys (door ways). Note areas of objective risk, such as electrical cables which you will want to avoid. Plastic drainpipes are best regarded as unstable choss, not to be trusted.
By working out how you would climb it: and you will want to do this in some detail; you will start to build the neural pathways which will help you plan how to climb an actual route.
Whether you actually climb the front of your own house is up to you, wait til the partner is out would be my advice.
When you've worked out every possible route up the front of your own house, apply it to other buildings. Don't get caught out, if you climb remote electricity sub-stations deep in the woods, remember that even these are occasionally visited by maintenance engineers.