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What it Takes (for me) to Climb 5.13.

My climbing buddy Fred Gomez once asked me, “Who’s the best climber at the crag?”  I had not heard the expression so I looked around and said, “Well, you I think.”   “NOoooooooooooo!” he exclaimed, “The climber who is having the most fun!”

I thought about that and really I don’t think that’s true.  The best climber at the crag is generally that person that is one foot-slip away from a full fledged roid rage.  You know – the one who seems angry all the time and has his/her draws on that really hard route at the crag…and is blaring really bad euro-trash techno.


One of my friends once told me, “It’s pathetic that you need to train to climb 5.13.”  I guess that could be true in a sense, but it’s what it takes for me to climb hard.  My “don’t really care” baseline these days is easy 5.12, but I really need to push myself to keep in the upper 5.12 and 13- range.

The biggest thing I have going on in my life is rock climbing and I train very hard for climbing.  But I’ve been thinking a lot about my training lately.  What are my goals?  What is my motivation?  In the “Training Manual” which is the street name for “The Rock Climber’s Training Manual,” the Andersons prescribe to choose a goal route and then train for that route specifically.  But I have trouble really just focusing on one route.  I will typically make a broad decision – the Red River Gorge, or the New River Gorge (or 50/50) and my focus toward one or the other (more power or more power enduro.)  I just can’t focus on one hard route.  Why not? 

The Darkside at the Red River Gorge.  Me sending “Tuskan Raider 12d”

I’ve come to realize that I train for the sake of training.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to be a better climber, but I really just like the beat down!  My typical strength phase is a very demanding and grueling part of my life.  I wake up between 400 and 430.  I run between 5-10 km (30 minutes to an hour.)  I then go to work for 10+ hours.  If it’s a training day I will do a 2-hour hangboard workout including warm up, then come home, play some Mario Kart and go to sleep.

While running, I’m not dreaming about the crimpers on my 5.14 life goal route.  I’m thinking about it time to time of course, but most of the time I’m just thinking about normal life things.  My dog.  My girlfriend.  Whether or not I can afford a new engine for my boat.  Whether someone is going to run me over with their car.  It’s 4 in the morning and I haven’t eaten yet, so I’m thinking about donuts (just kidding.)  The run is very demanding of me, but the motivation of the run is just pushing myself.  If I just tried to think about climbing the whole time, I’d just hit the snooze and go back to bed!

I made my list of routes that I want to do this Fall season. I feel a little awkward sharing it though.  There aren’t any big numbers or anything.  I do have in my mind a couple “big numbers for me” that I want to try though – things that I have trouble even writing down in my climbing journal.  Here is my short list of routes for the season:

Ryan Smith – The Pod 13a/b
Erika Thompson on Apollo Reed, her first 13a.  She climbed “Slash and Burn” 12d, though which is considerably harder last season!
New River Gorge:
  • ·      Sweetest Taboo 13b
  • ·      Travisty 13a
  • ·      Dial 911 13a
  • ·      Diamond Life 13a
  • ·      Nude Brute 13a
  • ·      Logotherapy 13a
  • ·      Original Crankster 13a
  • ·      The Pod 13a
  • ·      B52 13a
  • ·      Krag Kommander 13a

Mercy Seat 13a.  Not on my project list, but on my “Do it so I never have to do it again list”
Red River Gorge:
  • ·      Darth Mall 13b
  • ·      Golden Boy 13b
  • ·      Paradise Lost 13a
  • ·      Convicted 13a
  • ·      40 oz of Justice 13a
  • ·      Calm Like a Bomb 13a
  • ·      Dog Fights and Fist Fights 13a
  • ·      American Dream 12b (seriously this one is hard)
And of course, my dream routes (don’t tell any of my friends though):
  • ·      Kaleidoscope 13c
  • ·      Mango Tango 13d
  • ·      The Project 13c
  • ·      BOHICA 13b
  • ·      Proper Soul 14a

Ten Sleep – Part 2 (the meat and potatoes)

When we last left the action, our tragic hero had decided that he wasn’t a crappy climber and it was time to “Tie one on” to poorly-quote Stephen King’s – Lisey’s Story.

The Cigar at Ten Sleep

With my Spanish buddy, David, we hiked our butts up to the “Slavery Crag.”  Did I ever mention how tough the hikes are at Ten Sleep?  Well.  After doing the hike to the “Ark”, the hike to Slavery really only did take us 15 minutes!  I was feeling STOKED.  PYSCHED.  CRUSH MODE.  I warmed up on “Head Like a Hole” (12a) by hanging the draws.  This route is pretty popular so I figured I’d do the nice guy thing and leave my draws on it for the day. 

Calm Like a Bomb 12d climbs the right of center crack

My goal for the day was to try and send the fairly steep “Calm Like a Bomb” 12d.  The route is one of the non-descript pitches at Slavery.  Most people spend their time on “Happiness in Slavery” 12b and “EKV” 12c, but I had already done those pitches.  “Calm Like a Bomb” climbs a crack that peters out toward the top.  The first half of the route is pretty easy – maybe 10+ or 11- climbing, but then it gets real, really fast.  I had the pleasure of hanging the draws as well, and started pulling pretty hard – semi-small moves between really small holds and bad feet.  As with any onsite climb, the details are pretty fuzzy, but I definitely remember hanging a draw on a really bad right-hand pinch and clipping.  I think this was right in the middle of the crux!  I managed to hang on though.  I did a few more hard moves and was moving over into the “vert section” and I had one more hard move. 

Once again, the details were fuzzy, but I remember being really out of balance on some pretty bad holds.  I looked down, saw a really bad looking smear, and made the instant decision to trust my Tenaya Tarifa.  They stuck and I stuck it!  I spent some time on the last rest before the final boulder problem shaking (I was onsite) but the move to the anchors ended up being only 12- or 11+ and BOO YAH!  I was so stoked.  It was my Third 12d onsite and probably my second legit one.   

Georgie Abel on Shut the Duck Up 13a at Pyschoactive
Lena Moinova – Go Back to Colorado 12b at Psychoactive.  Lena swears that move is totally necessary.

The next day I took a semi-rest day to shoot photo and hang out with my fellow Trango teammate Ethan Pringle and his gal Georgie Abel.  We climbed at the “Psychoactive Wall” which stays in the shade almost all day (just in the early and late day sun FYI.)  Last year I sent the 13a pitch “Shut the Duck Up” so I had no problem warming up on the route with a few takes to get the line rigged for images.  I was pretty proud of myself – doing all the moves first try on it (off the hang for the crux.)  I shot some images of Georgie working the route and did “Mirth” 12a onsite.  Remember my prime directive – climb as many 5.12s as I can (that was number 434 lifetime.)

Did you see that cow?????? WOOF!

The next day, my friends and I checked out the “Sidewalk” area at Ten Sleep, a notable and atypical morning crag.   I warmed up sending “If Dreams Were Thunder” 12b hanging the draws.  THE route to do, however is the super duper luper long (25 bolts) route:  “Sheep Reaction” 12a.  This one just goes on FOREVER.  I’m a pretty good enduro climber and this one felt easy for the grade – I was never pumped and not a single move felt hard.  It was a really nice and good experience though.  It was great to get so much climbing in!  I certainly recommend this route to anyone who is looking for adventures.  I don’t really like adventures myself, but every now and then, its good to get into one so you can remember why you try to avoid them.

Bob Value on Sheep Reaction 12a at the Sidewalk
You said 25 draws right?  Plus anchors yeah.

The next two days were hard going.  Its rained on us, and we couldn’t climb :/.  The end of the trip was approaching quickly so I really had to get some routes done. 


We went up to the cool kid’s crag and I decided to try a new route that Eric Horst bolted at the Sphinx.  It was a good pitch and he rated it 12b.  I got the onsite pretty easy – it being small holds and big moves, both of which suit me well.  

I then set my sites on the “Tangerine Fat Explosion” 13a. 


I heard that this route was a total gimme and a pretty easy onsite, so I tried it.  The bottom of it was wet and it was pretty humid out, but I managed to fire through the boulder problem pretty easily.   Coming out of the boulder problem (it climbs over a small roof) I made a dead-point move to a sloper hoping it was good and it turned out to be…good enough.  The next sequence involved (I think) some smaller holds and maybe a mono with good feet and then a rest.  Then there was a run-out section; there are generally two types of run-outs on hard sport climbs: 


1.  The climbing is so easy that it doesn’t matter. 

2.  The climbing is so hard, you can’t stop to clip. 


Well.  It was one of those cases where the climbing was hard :/.  But I managed to make it through the boulder problem.  Having good grip strength is one of the most important aspects in climbing and thanks to the Mark and Mike Anderson training program, that is one of my strengths.

Another hard day at camp

There was some butter and bread climbing for a few bolts with big holds to stand on and incut jugs to rest, though I continued to climb conservatively.  On routes like this, I’ve learned there is usually one more big punch at the end.  And so was the case.  Guarding the last bolt and some obviously easy flow-stone climbing, there were a series of chalked holds.  I went up off a big lock-off and felt several of them and immediately sorted out my strategy.  I made a big lock-off (skipping several holds) going up right hand to this right facing sidepull and stepped my feet up.  For the second time on the trip, my onsite depending on standing on a small really bad smear.   My Tarifa came through for me and, out of balance, I made a dead-point move for the hold below the bolt.  I remember thinking…….please let it be good please let it be good, though I was prepared for it to not be good.  And the hold was – a nice ¼ pad incut crimper!  BOO YAH!  Onsite baby!  And also hanging the draws.    

This is where they put bad people who downgrade Tangerine Fat Explosion

The trip was quickly winding down and I had one more day.  I was feeling good and we headed up to the “Downtown Area” which contains the phallic free-standing pillar…the…uh..cigar…yeah…Really doesn’t look like a cigar to me ;).

The previous two years, I worked the route “Sleep Reaction” 13a to no avail.  Conditions weren’t super good, but after about 30 or 40 tries, I finally got route!  For me, sending the route revolved around a single movement – grabbing two of the worst holds I’ve ever grabbed in my life.  I was actually quite close to being able to just hold the holds and do a pull-up, but I couldn’t and I had to actually use my feet which was quite hard.  When I got it, it was pretty anti-climatic for me.  I was happy to get it of course, but it really didn’t feel like a major accomplishment for me. 

Sleep Reaction 13a
Sleep Reaction 13a
Sleep Reaction 13a

I think my most memorable send was also my last major send of the trip: my onsite of “Heart Breaker” 12c.  This route starts off pretty easy as it shares the start with a 5.11.  “Heart Breaker” however, busts out of the dihedral left directly into some seriously HUGE moves.  I’m good at big moves.  I have long arms and I have a lot or power, so the first couple big ones were pretty easy for me – I didn’t have to jump or anything, just make big reaches.


At one big move I felt that I would have to jump.  I was going from a good hold to another (seemed to be) good hold but at the last second, I intuitively dropped a really high back step and just reached.  OMG….that’s right OMG.   Not a good hold.  Not a good hold at all.  “OH DUCK OH DUCK OH DUCK.”  Yeah.  I did that a few times when I grabbed the hold, matched up, then fired for a good glory jug. 

Don’t forget the dog!
Where’s Raina?

And that’s when the pump settled in.  I was on a really good horizontal rest with so-so feet (the option of too high feet or lower, but worse feet.)  I took a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig lonnnnnnnnnnnnnng rest here, but really couldn’t get the tingles out.  It looked like there was one more hard move before the glory section.  (Seems to be a theme at Ten Sleep?)  I made a exploratory move up to what looked like a mono.  It was a VERY deep drilled mono that was big enough for me to two-finger stack.  I committed to the move and hiked the feet going for a left-hand sidepull….which was crap.  Totally crap.

Our campsite

I was red-lining and couldn’t hold the sidepull so I WENT HARD again left to what ended up being a ½ pad jug crimper!  Glory!  I was still super pumped, but the rest was cake. Back to “OH DUCK OH DUCK OH DUCK OH DUCK OH DUCK.”  I couldn’t stop saying.  That route just blew my mind.  That was for sure one of the best experiences of my climbing career. 

After climbing, we crawled back to the camp site and started packing things up.  We had to leave in the morning and I had a 24 hour drive to do.  It was sad to leave the campsite – my home for the past two weeks.  I took a few photos, jumped in the creek naked on last time for good luck and waved good bye to Ten Sleep.  Maybe forever?  Maybe just for another year. 

Who’s ready for some beeeeeer!

This could be all yours for 350k  Its for sale.
The cup cakes at Dirty Sallies are excellent

Drew Ruana Sends ‘New World Order’ (5.14c)

Drew Ruana Sends 'New World Order' (14c). Photo by Matt Dennis

Drew Ruana Sends ‘New World Order’ (14c). Photo by Matt Dennis

Today was just another one of those days. I woke up, went to the crag, climbed with coach Tyson Schoene and Gavin. It was sunny and nice out. It was a great day to be outside and in the mountains. ‘New world Order’ (5.14c/8c+), although a link up (of one 14b into another 14b), is one of the purist, most sustained, longest power endurance climbs at Little Si. It combines two v10s, one at the top and one at the beginning, with numerous other hard sections. Psyched to finish this one off! Onto the next project!

The Rise and Fall of Half Dome

As almost all of the climbing community has heard by now, a massive chunk of the most popular route on Half Dome, the Regular Northwest Face, fell down. Nearly two pitches worth of rock cleaved off. Now here’s the sketchy part. I was there two weeks earlier. But here’s the real kicker, we got a “heads up” that it was going to happen. No, seriously, listen to this. At the base of the chimney that broke away was a huge chockstone – the size of a refrigerator. I flopped onto the thing, as did my partner, no problem. Dan actually sat on it to belay and get out of the way of a party we had just passed. I uneventfully led the next pitch and then started to pull Dan up. Only a few moments after Dan began chimneying above the colossal block, one of the guys from the party below us belly-flopped onto the block. As that guy stood up, the block dropped straight down, deeper into the chimney! He surfed the thing for about two feet before it re-wedged into the cavernous expanse. I heard the commotion but didn’t know what happened until Dan arrived at the belay. He told me the story and all I thought was “crazy” and then forgot about it.

The thing is – that chimney was so huge it truly was a chimney. What I mean is that you didn’t chimney behind a flake or something – it was huge! I now wonder if anyone else surfed that block deeper into the chimney before the whole feature finally cut loose. I’ll probably never know but fortunately no one was on the route when the rock fall occured. But scary still, there was more massive rock fall on Half Dome again today – over by the top out to Tis-sa-ack. Third big event out there this season. Words of advice? Hmm… Should I say what your mom would say, “be careful”? Nah, Layton Kor was more my style and I’m sure he would say “better climb it while you still can”

Dan Hickstein and I atop Half Dome two weeks before the rock fall

Dan Hickstein and I atop Half Dome two weeks before the rock fall.

– Jason Haas

Ten Sleep – Summer 2015

The summers in West Virginia are brutal.  The rain, heat and the oppressive humidity make it off-season.  We have very little respite and for the most part, I just fish and route develop during the summers.  I’ve taken a trip out west every summer to escape the heat, and for the past 4 years, we’ve gone to Ten Sleep Canyon in Wyoming.
Joy of Heresy 5.11d in Ten Sleep Wyoming
The drive out is mind numbing – 24 hours according to google earth, but after stops and all, it ends up being more like 30 + hours with two drivers.
On the way out this year, we decided to check out Spearfish Canyon which was on the way.  According to google earth, its best for us to come across I 90 (I had to pick someone up in Cleveland) – however, the tolls across that way are ridiculous and with all the roadwork, we made better time on our way back across I 80.    Just an FYI.
I will generally do a “day here or there” on a big trip to prospect for future trips.   My overall impression of Spearfish was….kind of cool and maybe worth a trip!  From my one day, it seems like a “mini version” of Ten Sleep.  The rock is about the same or maybe a little better, but it seems a lot smaller – both in quantity and in height.  Unfortunately, I’m starting to run out of routes at Ten Sleep so I need to start looking for new areas! 
And that’s why we come out west!!
At Spearfish, we climbed at the Big Picture Gully which was suggested to us by a friend.  The hike here was pretty horrible.  We were fresh out of the car and on little sleep, but it seemed particularly hard!  The canyon itself was pretty neat – with lots of excellent fly fishing stretches (that’s a big plus for planning a trip.) 
Spearfish Canyon
Spearfish Canyon
Flowers in Spearfish Canyon
I warmed up on “Drip Dry” 5.11c onsite pretty easily.  I don’t remember too much about this route other than it was “pretty easy limestone pulling.”  It was said to be one of the better pitches in the area.  My prime climbing directive is to climb as many hard routes as I possibly can and I am gunning for 500 career 5.12s, so I got on “Dirk Diggler” 5.12a to get a feel for the area and got the onsite, then followed it up with the onsite of “Lung Butter” 5.12a which felt significantly harder.  But boom.  Mischief managed.  Spearfish next year?  Maybe……..
Dirk Diggler 5.12a at Spearfish Canyon
We finished the drive that night to Ten Sleep and set up camp, the same exact site we’ve had for 3 years now at Leigh Creek.  I immediately adjusted as I set my tent and cot up to regard this as my home away from home for the next two weeks.  When we left, it was indeed a tearful moment for me.
I spent the next few days at Ten Sleep adjusting and picking off some low 5.12 onsites.  I have already done MOST of the book-starred 12-s at Ten Sleep, so its getting harder and harder for me to find new pitches.  I returned to “Captain Insano” 5.11d which I had tried my first year at Ten Sleep.  This 100 foot pitch includes lots of difficult climbing up this imposing steep wall.  It seems like this one goes on forever with no easy climbing on it:  hard boulder problem, then rest, then hard boulder problem etc.  The route culminates with a very difficult boulder problem going to the anchor.  The actual movement itself isn’t that bad, but with both the pump and the mental shutdown, its pretty hard going.  This is where I fell onsite several years ago.  Knowing what I was in for, I took a BIG rest right before the final section and did it easily.  I’ve climbed a lot of 5.12s in my life (my count as of today 442.)  Trust me.  This pitch is 12a all day long and I updated my book.  You all should too.  Its an AWESOME route though!!  If you’re looking for an adventure route, then this should be at the top of your Ten Sleep list.
One thing I noted this trip is that almost ALL the routes at Ten Sleep climb at least one bolt into the “blue” flowstone rock.  The “good clean rock” on Limestone is the white stuff that doesn’t get hit by rain, but where the water runs, you get the “flow stone” which is much sharper and less quality for climbing (pain pain pain.)  Very interesting indeed.  You like…..always get to do some flow stone moves and you also get to clip the anchors from it.  Life is (painfully) hard.
On the fifth day of our trip, we talk ourselves into the long …. very long…. very long…hike to “The Ark.”  We heard about this crag from some Canadians who raved about it!  It is quite distinguishable from the Mondo Beyondo area or pretty much any of the cool walls in the canyon.  It’s the “big one way over there” pretty much.  
The hike into “The Ark”….this is the gravy part.
They said the hike was horrible though.  It was really horrible.  But boy were the routes worth it!  It was this day of my trip where I really settled in.  For some reason on trips, I always have low self-expectations – like I feel like I’m a crappy climber and that I can’t climb hard at all.  But man.  The Ark, I just kicked butt.  The stand-out route there was “Joy of Heresy” 5.11d which was a full long pitch with lots of excellent climbing and two super deep monos (probably drilled, though…)!
Jully Jihad 5.12b onsite at the the Ark
Joy of Heresy 5.11d at the Ark.

I ticked off 4 5.12 onsites at the Ark easily and was super stoked!  I only left one starred 5.12 there, but it had some really jingus fixed draws.  From here, I was ready to crank up it for the second half of my trip!
Lena Moinova climbing Atheist Childhood 5.11b at the Ark
One of the 5.10s at the Ark…quality is womp womp :(

Tick Mark Island

I’ve always been a person who can’t stand sitting around devoid of constructive activities.  Combined with my obsessive personally, I always have to be doing something and I work hard to do my best at what I do.   I’m particularly hard on myself when I’m working on something that I think is important.  Thus, I’ve spent my life jumping maniacally from activity to activity with the goal of mastery.   This all makes for a crazy life, but it is my life and I really enjoy it.

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on several major activities, one being route developing at Summersville Lake.  With my bolt gun and several motivated friends, we’ve been turning a previously untapped area of cliff line into a worthwhile sport-climbing destination.

When developing routes, grading is difficult.  Through the bolting process, you get a sense of the route.  You are trying to figure out where the route should climb and what holds/sequences you want to incorporate.  Therefore, you spend a good bit of time feeling things out, sorting though moves, figuring out clipping stances etc.  Long story short, you know exactly what the moves are long before you even tie in to send the route.  Also, of course, all the draws are already hung and most importantly, all the bolts are exactly where you want them.

Zak Roper – Raina Terror 5.12b second ascent
Tick Mark Island

We’ve been trying to come up with a name for the new climbing area at the lake and we aren’t really telling anyone where it is.  We want to keep it under wraps until we finish up all the good routes there.  Am I worried that people will find it?  Nah…its been my experience that even though you wave something in front of people’s faces, they’ll never go looking for it.  I’m pretty sure that we’re safe – at least for a while.  The name seems to be sticking though.  We were thinking of calling it “The Fayette County Dump” or “The Profanity Crag” or something like that, but “Tick Mark Island” seems to be the sticking name.  This is equivalent to the “John Galt Line.”  Basically a tongue and cheek response to criticism. 

**note** all grades are guesses.
1.     Childhood Memories 5b       5.12b
Follow the bolted crack up to the slab and a stance.  Crimp your way through small edges culminating with several long moves on decent holds to the exciting finish.
2.     Stranger Danger       5b       5.12a
Stick clip and follow the clean face to some easier climbing.  Make an extremely long move on tiny holds to the anchor.
3.     Amber Alert               5b       5.12b
Stick clip and trend left through thin moves to the ledge.  Move left, the up the bulge.  Tackle the long moves on tiny holds up the impeccable rock to the anchor.
4.     Sh&t Echoes               6?b      5.12c
Stick clip and boulder to the ledge.  Clip, then climb really difficult moves up the short arete.  Power left out the roof to a stance below the roof.  Pull the roof and finish through some techy face moves.
5.     Project                                    (13+?)
6.     Chuffer Town USA    7?b      5.12b
Stick clip and climb the 11+/12- slab to the base of the room.  Power through jugs out the roof to a difficult move which leads to easier climbing and the anchor.
7.     Raina Terror              7b       5.12b
Stick clip and climb crispy rock for a couple moves, then continue up impeccable stone over a short roof to a long power move crux.
8.     Project                                    (12c/d?)

The “right” wall is themed around the route name:  “Childhood Memories” which was a “gym route name” that circulated at Climb North – my childhood climbing gym in Pittsburgh.  They always had a route named that or talked about naming a route that and it stuck in the back of my mind through the years, though the exact context or frequency may be inaccurate… I mean…I was a punk little kid at the time.  Funny enough, my dog’s name “Raina” came from that same period of time.  I remember hearing a kid had the name “Rainy” which I always liked. 

The name $hit Echos comes from my flash attempt on the route.  I stuck the first crux which involves precise dead-pointing on some bad holds.  I screamed (my Danno scream) and it echoed across the lake and came back like 10 seconds later.   My buddy Zak roper, knowing that I was through the crux said “I better not hear and ‘$hit Echos DAN.’”  Of course, I broke a hold off and did in-fact hear those echoes….I got the route second go though.

10 Down and Dirty Training Tips

After five months of training for a trip to Yosemite, I have realized a few things due to experience, trial and error, and some reflection. First and foremost is that training takes time and to work it into an already over packed life, something’s got to give. One thing that went was my weekly blog updates. I appreciated all the people that followed it and positive comments I received, so hopefully this tidbit will re-inspire some. If you are thinking about starting a training program, the list below includes some useful things to keep in mind as you start your journey.

  1. Be Rigid. If you’ve never followed a training program before, I recommend checking out The Rock Climber’s Training Manual by the Anderson brothers and flipping to the already pre-laid out training programs in the middle of the book. Yes I published the book, but not only is it a good program, it is also “dummy proof”. It says train on Monday, you train on Monday etc. It’s very easy to follow and you can start right away without having to read the whole book first, which is nice for those with limited time.
  2. Be Flexible. Life happens and we can’t always train every third day. Try and plan ahead as much as possible, but be OK with adjusting your schedule a bit, whether that’s because of work, you’re not feeling well, or you have a hot date. Also, once you go through a cycle or two of the training program, you’ll start to identify where you need to spend more time focusing on areas of weakness or areas that are more applicable to your training goal. For instance the crux on Lurking Fear is a slab and El Cap has a lot of pitches, so I need to spend less time focused on bouldering and power and more on outdoor mileage to hone my slab technique and be ready to do a lot of pitches in a day.
  3. Get a Support System. Tell your friends you’ve started training. You don’t need to spray all over Facebook every day about how many pull-ups you just did, but it helps hold you accountable to keep working out as no one likes the New Years resolution to “get fit” that then fades away in three weeks. If you’re in a relationship, it’s also mission critical for your significant other to support your goals. In my case, I have two small children and my wife has to take on an unfair amount of the work with them so I can go train. I would have quit training long ago if she didn’t support me even though it can be hard for both of us.
  4. Have a Goal. I’ve climbed for almost half my life and yet this is the first year that I’ve actually started training with any truly legitimacy. In my experience, that has largely been because I had no real reason to. Everyone appreciates getting stronger and climbing harder, but climbing a letter grade harder in and of itself is not inspiring. For instance, would you rather climb 5.11c this year or would you rather climb Astroman? 5.11c, while tangible, means very little to me while Astroman would be a dream route, one that I would remember forever. No matter how hard you climb or how hard you’d like to climb, identifying a specific route or routes is a better way to go than chasing a grade. It will help in the long run too to avoid burnout.
  5. Train Your Weaknesses. If you have a goal, then you should have identified the style of climbing and skills needed to achieve your goal. If you don’t have a goal, or you’re between goals because you just accomplished your last one, focus on training your weaknesses. This is where the be rigid/be flexible advice from above really comes into play. Be rigid in the respect that if it’s a power phase, train power even if it’s your weakness. Does your goal have some slab on it and you’re bad at that? Spend more time ARCing before workouts to hone that specific skill. The point is to not just go through the motions. You have to break through what you can already do and the only way to do that is to consciously and specifically train what you’re bad at. For me, it’s closed crimps. I’ve always open hand crimped mostly because I was told a long time ago open hand crimping will also help your closed crimping but not vice versa. Science has shown that to not be true. Open hand crimping is good for open hand crimping and closed crimping is good for closed crimping. I have big oven mitts (ask my wife – my hands literally don’t fit into oven mitts) so I’d rather grab a sloper, do some compression moves, or pinch something but that’s not always an option. So I’ve spent a ton of time training crimps. In the strength phase it’s several of my key grips on the hang board, in the power phase, I seek out crimpy boulder problems, and when I rope up, I look for crimpy routes. I still follow my training program, but I have an added focus of what I’m bad at. Of course, train what you’re good at too as you can always improve that skill as well.
  6. Data, data, data. How do you know you’re bad at something or that you’re getting better at it? Data. Buy the Rock Climber’s Training Manual Training Log. I mean seriously, it’s only $4. I track everything in it, from the super broad calendar and plan for my climbing trip to the minute details of a hangboard workout. You will experience days when you don’t want to workout and you’ll experience days when you feel frustrated when you fail and feel like you’re going backwards in your training program. This is when it is critical to look back at your logbook. First off, you’re supposed to fail. Seriously. You can’t know your limits or push past them without failing. But when you feel like you’re doing poorly on the fourth hangboarding night of the cycle and then you look back to last cycle and see how much better you’re doing than last time, it’s very motivating. It’s also motivating to see when you break a personal best. The workouts should always feel hard because you should continue to push yourself. Data helps you know how much you can safely push yourself without risking injury and keep your psych high when you see your progress. Of course, we all have off days so don’t let the anomalous bad workout get you down. The key is to still do the workout with as much fidelity as possible and regroup for next time.
  7. Rehab. Don’t tell my wife this, but I’m not the young stud I once was. The biggest thing I’ve found with getting older is the amount of time I need to recover. With that comes the risk of injury and it takes me longer to get over injuries than it used to. So the key is to then avoid injuries altogether. Some key elements include good rest, massage, and training antagonist muscles. For massage, it’s great to go to a massage place, but more specifically, you can work on problem spots in your arms yourself with things like the ARMAid, which has really helped me with my elbows. Also, climbers focus on getting strong in pull down muscles. You should work some antagonist muscle exercises into your routine as well so you don’t get too strong on one side of your arms and the overcompensation causes chronic pain. This is essentially what golfer’s and tennis elbow are. I use some armbands etc to train those muscles as well, which has helped immensely. The last key thing that has been critical for me is a good chiropractor. There a lot of hacks out there, but good ones can be game changers, or at least that was my experience. I’m putting more stress on my body than ever before and I feel better than ever before and I notice it when I miss a couple weeks of chiropractic work for whatever reason.
  8. Eat Right. This is my biggest area of weakness in my training. I’m not a good cooker. You should tell how much I dislike cooking by my use of the word cooker. I don’t like to do it, I find it to be an inefficient use of my time, and I just don’t have patience to make a great meal. I view eating as a necessary thing to living, not as a hobby or an indulgence of flavors etc. I just need calories and don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing them. With that said, what you eat matters and so eating the right stuff is important. Clearly I’m no dietician so I can’t offer you sound advice other than eating well is important and you should do it. Do as I say, not as I do I guess…
  9. Sleep. Another area of weakness of mine and boy do I wish I could sleep more. However I have a two-and-a-half year old that is still working out the finer points of going to the bathroom in a potty at night and a four-month old. Sleep is a luxury around our house. But boy do I notice when I get an extra hour of sleep – It. Is. Amazing.
  10. Have fun! Not every workout is going to get you pumped up but overall, you need to enjoy what you’re doing for the sake of longevity. Get a training partner, track your progress, have a goal, and remind yourself why you’re doing it. It can be monotonous lifting weights in your garage by yourself or dusting off your gym’s unused campus board. It can also be de-motivating standing over in the weight area by yourself as you watch your friends laugh it up over by the lead cave. So why are you doing it? Are the end results of your effort worth it? I certainly hope so. And if you dread training, and find yourself struggling to adhere to the program after a few months, modify it so that you can still improve and find benefit from it, but can reach a balance between improvement and enjoyment.

– Jason Haas

The vision for the Trango athlete team is to find climbers who embody our brand’s values and support them in their climbing endeavors. We focus on the character of the climber, their passion for the sport, and their desire to contribute to the community.

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