Monday, 3 September 2012

UIAA Global Youth Summit: Slovenia 2012

The 2012 UIAA Global Youth Summit was based in the Mountaineering Training Centre Bavšica in the Bavšica Valley which is near Bovec, you can click here for more information; 

This was my first trip to Slovenia and I had no idea what to expect.

This was our accomodation for the 5 days we were staying, the Mountaineering Training Centre Bavšica

 There were a number of sessions looking at different skills and ways they were used, this was a communication based session which required no talking! hard for some of the team members!

A very good presentation from Luka Stražar, who recived the Piolet d’or award for new route on K7 west in Charakusa, Pakistan this year.

Some of the Team members going for a wee Via Ferrata

This was the team of Delegates/Hosts/Speakers.

Below is a very quick short video of the trip... 

I wanted to get something online quickly and will update this with a proper report in due course... enjoy!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Core Body Strength

Core Body Strength

Core body strength is the ability to use muscles other than your arms to hold you in different positions. Some of the core muscles that are used for climbing are upper and lower abdominals, lower back, hamstrings, and calfs. Generally think of the core muscles as the ones that allow you to keep you feet on a roof, or to pull yourself onto a rock on without bending your arms. Body tension or the lack thereof is a result of core body strength and knowing how to use it.

Core Body Strength Drills:

Leg Lifts

Dead hang from good holds and lift your legs straight in front of you, bending at the waist. Lift your legs until your body forms a 90 degree bend and lower slowly. Try not to swing or kick your legs up. If you cannot stabilize yourself have a partner stop your swinging. If you cannot do a leg lift with your legs straight then bend your legs at the knees to 90 degrees. Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees for the whole range of motion both up and down. Do this until failure or repeat as many times as possible in one minute (if you cannot do this for a minute straight). Complete three sets with a one minute rest between sets.

A good climbing variation on this is to find a roof and grab a large hold with both hands. Lift your feet off the ground and lift one foot at a time and place it on a foothold. To make this harder put the feet farther away and practice accuracy with your feet. Modify the holds from underclings, sidepulls, and straight downpulling so simulate different climbing movements. The key is to place your feet directly onto a hold, tighten up (let your feet take some weight) and then release.

Banana Boats

Lie on your back and extend your arms straight above your head. Straighten your legs and then bend at the waist about 20 degrees (form a banana). Slowly rock back and forth keeping your lower back on the ground and pointing with your toes and fingers.

Try to move slowly and don't let your head or feet touch the ground. Do this until failure or repeat as much as possible for one minute. Try to do this in sets of three with a one minute rest in between.


Lie on your stomach and extend your arms straight in front of you. Move your arms and legs up and down in a small range of motion trying to keep your quads off the ground. Try to keep your legs straight, but your arms may be slightly bent.


Start on your hands and knees. Raise opposite arm and leg (left arm, right leg) at the same time to a horizontal position. From there lift the arm and leg in a reverse crunch and lower back to horizontal (one rep). Without letting you hands or feet touch the ground pull up again and repeat until failure. Do this with the other leg/arm for a minimum of one minute each side. Try to do three sets of this exercise for each side.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Hand Strength

Hand Strength

Hand strength is the ability to clamp down on holds. It can be defined as contact
strength (slopers), crimp strength, pocket strength, or pinch strength. Each type of grip requires different recruitment of the muscles in your forearms, and this requires practice.

Holding a sloper requires a different amount of contraction than holding a pocket. Training on just slopers will improve your contract strength but may not help you on a steep wall with small crimpers. The trick is to train on many different hold types and to understand what your limits are. You don't want to climb slopers all evening and then try and crimp near the end. Injuries occur most often when you are tired and you try to push yourself on small holds.

You will probably want to start a general training session (after warming up) by climbing less steep, crimpier routes then moving towards larger holds (slopers and incut, open handed holds).

If you are a very strong crimper but cannot hold slopers then you may want to focus on just slopers for a period of time, thus sacrificing some of your crimp strength to become a better all around climber. The same applies for the other type of grips as well.

In addition to just climbing on different hold types there are also lots of drills that you can do to improve your hand strength:

Weighted hangs

Weighted hangs is an incredibly effective drill for increasing hand strength, when done correctly. If done incorrectly you can easily harm yourself so it is best to start out slow and progress as you feel comfortable. In order to do weighted hangs you will need various different grip types and some way of adding weight to your body (attaching a diving belt, weight vests, backpack of rocks...). Start with little or no weight and try and dead hang some of the different grips, you can switch between one or two handed dead hangs if you want more difficulty. Determine which grips are your weakest and which are your strongest. You should be able to hang from the grips for at least 10 seconds before adding any weight. On the grips that you can hold for more than 10 seconds you can start to add weight, increasing the amount until you can only dead hang the holds for 8-12 seconds.

Select three different grip types and do three sets of 8-12 second hangs on each grip
type. Rest one minute between sets and three to five minutes between grips. You can do other exercises between the sets to decrease the amount of time required to complete the drills (perhaps some core strength drills).

Hit Strips

Hit strips are a drill designed by Eric Horst and described in his book "How to climb
5.12" and more information can be found here...

System Board

A system board is a "woody" covered with different grips strategically placed at varying angles and difficulty. The nice thing about a system board is that you move your feet as you adjust your hand grips so you are actually climbing and practicing climbing movements. To train hand strength focus more on smaller holds than big moves and moving slowly between the holds.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Strength and Power, what's the difference?

Strength and Power are two different abilities that muscles may have. It is easy to confuse the two terms but the most simplistic way to describe them is this;

  1. Strength - The ability for the muscle to stay contracted under a maximum load.
  2. Power - The ability to generate the contraction of strength.

In short, Strength is Static and Power is Dynamic.

If we look at climbing terms, there are many different types of strength involved in climbing:

  • Hand Strength - Strength required to hold on.
  • Arm/Back Strength - Strength required to bend your arms.
  • Core Body Strength - Strength required to keep your feet and hips in place.
  • Power - Ability to move quickly and in control. maintenance 
  • Opposing Muscle Strength - Non-climbing muscles that you must strengthen in order to keep joints and muscles balanced.

The strengths can be trained using isolation movements, focusing on a specific set of muscles, while power is best trained using compound movements, possibly numerous muscle groups with movements involving more than one joint.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Muscle Stretching (Author Unknown)

I was going through all my documents and research I have built up over the years and I found this as a word document, I can't remember where it came from and who wrote it... so I can't credit anyone, but it is a pretty good piece on Muscle Stretching and I thought it was worth sharing... 

When you work out or engage in sports you stretch your muscles and ligaments beyond normal daily limits. Extreme muscle stretching may damage the muscle or ligament. There are several good stretches to limber your muscles prior to working out. Controlled warm up and muscle stretching adds flexibility needed for the extended movements during sports. The flexibility you get from stretching will improve your climbing performance.

Advantages of Muscle Stretching: 
  1. Before Sports: Muscle stretching improves circulation and blood flow--gives muscles the added flexibility to move freely 
  2. During Sports: Muscle stretching improves coordination, balance, accuracy and makes your muscles less prone to injury 
  3. After Sports: Muscle stretching improves recovery time 


Stretching helps improve muscle imbalances. A muscle imbalance is caused when some muscles are more warmed up and ready for exertion than others. Daily activities do not require the same extension and range of movements your muscles get during sports. If your muscles are not stretched equally, they are said to be imbalanced. Muscle imbalance makes you less coordinated and can contribute to injury such as pulled or strained muscles.

Types of Muscle Stretching.

Two types of muscle stretching help prepare an athlete for best performance. The stretching that provides best results is "Static" and "Dynamic" muscle stretching.
  1. Static Muscle Stretching. This type of stretching is the way to increase flexibility. Hold the stretch with low force for a long time…this is static muscle stretching. It's important not to use too much pressure. Remain alert to your body's automatic stretch reflex. Keep the degree of stretch and force under the level of the stretch reflex point. Hold the low force against the pull of your muscle for a number of seconds. Count the seconds silently to your self. Repeat the stretch in sets for the same length of time and force. You can create passive muscle stretching by holding it with yoru other arm or leg, or have a partner apply pressure. 
  2. Dynamic Muscle Stretching. This type of stretching is done by gradually increasing the stretch distance and speed of movement with each successive repetition in a particular direction. Control the movement so the limit of the muscle gradually increases. Do not use quick movements for dynamic muscle stretching. Slow controlled side to side movement of legs or arms or torso is dynamic stretching. Perform dynamic stretching in sets of 5 to 10 repetitions. Continue to increase the range of motion until you reach the maximum without over stretching. Listen to your body.

Prepare for Muscle Stretching Routines.

Warm up. Before you start muscle stretching routines you need to warm up. Go to the warm up wall for some low intensity bouldering patterns. Do low intensity bouldering for about five minutes using big holds and big foot holds. Alternately you could jog, do jumping jacks, a few sit-ups and pushups. Prepare muscles for stretching by increasing blood flow. Your warm up should be just to the point when you just break a sweat. The goal of the warm up is to increase your heart rate for about five minutes. At this point you are ready for stretching your muscles.
Stretch Reflex. If you skip the warm up or try to stretch too aggressively, a nerve reflex called the "stretch reflex" takes place. Stretch reflex is an automatic response caused when nerve fibers are stretched. Stretch reflex causes your muscle to contract against the direction of muscle stretch. This could lead to mild pulled muscle or pain which reduces athletic performance. By being aware of the stretch reflex you can prevent it. Breathe deliberately during muscle helps you relax and control the stretch. Stay relaxed while you stretch, work up to flexibility gradually and stay in control of your muscles to help prevent the automatic stretch reflex.

Muscle Stretching Routines.
  1. Slow Torso Twists. Place hands on hips and twist left then right in sets. Use the dynamic stretching technique to stretch the torso muscles. Be careful not to twist suddenly and do not use swinging momentum to increase the range of twist on the muscle or you risk overstretching. Flexibility in the torso muscles will improve important movements used in climbing.
  2. Backbend. Put your palms of your hands flat on the floor and arch your back both directions. This stretches and ads flexibility for muscles in the lower back.
  3. Modified Hurdler's Stretch. Extend one leg behind you and the other in front. Lean forward and backward to gently stretch the quadriceps. This stretch limbers muscles needed to perform leg climbing moves such as extending to reach a foot hold or heel hook, or lifting your leg high for a foot hold.
  4. Thigh Stretch. Stretch your adductor inner thigh and abductor outer thigh muscles. Stretch the front and back of the thigh quadriceps muscles and back of the hamstring muscles. This will give you full range of motion for climbing moves such as drop-knee and getting close to the wall with legs spread.
  5. Toe Touches. Keep your knees straight and your back bent. Place your feet about a meter apart. Touch your right toes with both fingertips, then the left toes. Continue to extend using dynamic stretching. Gives you flexibility for climbing moves needed to extend the leg while the body position is bent. 
Do not:
  • Do not ignore your body. Do not stretch to the point of pain. 
  • Do not stretch a muscle beyond its natural range. 
  • Do not bounce when performing muscle stretching. 
  • Do not hold your breath. Continue to breathe deliberately while stretching 
  • Do not extend to the point of muscle stretch reflex. 

  • Do warm up your muscles for least five minutes prior to stretching. 
  • Do pay attention to your body, feel your muscle's natural limit. 
  • Do start stretching slowly and work into your full extension. 
  • Do be patient. Take your time and do it right. 
  • Do breathe deeply to your full lung capacity. 
  • Do concentrate on staying relaxed. 
  • Do stretch even when you are sore. 

Summary of Muscle Stretching.

Muscles and ligaments are not immediately ready for the extreme range of motion required in sports. Prepare for muscle stretching routines with a 5 minute warm up, enough to break a sweat. After warm up, perform muscle stretching routines until muscles are limber. Avoid muscle stretch reflex, which can cause damage to the muscle and hinder performance. The flexibility you get from muscle stretching will improve your performance in sports.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

April run to work...

With tales of snow in Scotland and rain in Yorkshire filtering down through Twitter I remembered last years very short lived summer and decided now was as good a time as any to get the running shoes out and do the cross country route to work.

So this morning whilst the Northern quarter of the UK was waking up to Rain and Snow I thoroughly enjoyed a 11.6 mile cross country run, with clear blue skies over Leicestershire…

The forecast for tomorrow is -1 and the clouds have well and truly rolled in so it has made the run in all the more worth while!!

Whistle Way in Leicestershire

Coming over the farm track Lubbesthorpe Bridal Road

Heading towards Leicester Forest East

Heading towards Leicester Forest East

Heading towards Leicester Forest East

Coming in towards the only stretch or road... 

Monday, 2 April 2012

Finger Board training

Training Anaerobic Endurance with "Pyramids"

Pyramid training simulates the way your forearm muscles might work in climbing a long boulder problem or medium-length sport route. In this way, it tends to train forearm endurance over pure strength. As shown in Figure 6.2, one run through the pyramid involves seven hangs on the same pair of holds.

The rest interval between each hang is just five seconds, so a complete cycle will take just under one-and-a-half minutes. Take a one-minute rest, before performing another pyramid cycle on a different set of holds. Your goal is seven to fifteen total sets.

As you progress through the sets, strive to hit all the primary grip positions including full- and half-crimp, all the two-finger pocket "teams," pinch grip, and open-hand slopers. It's good to vary the size of the holds used for a given set based on your level of fatigue, but be sure to stay "on schedule" in terms of the timing of your hangs and rest intervals.

Use the same pair of holds and follow each step precisely with just a five second rest between each step.

That is, hang: four seconds, rest: five seconds, hang: six seconds, rest: five seconds, hang: eight seconds, rest five seconds, and so on.

Training Contact Strength with "Repeaters"

Repeaters may be the single best fingerboard regimen as they will build contact strength (i.e. maximum grip strength). One set of repeaters involves a series of ten, maximum-intensity hangs on the same pair of holds. Each hang should last just three to ten seconds each, so you may need to wear a 10-pound weight belt (or use smaller holds) to make this a difficult task. Rest just a five-seconds between each of the ten hangs. The complete set of repeaters should take around two minutes and, of course, lead to a growing forearm pump.

Take a two-minute rest before launching into your next set of ten repeaters. Use a different pair of holds for each set of ten repeaters, beginning with your most "problem" or difficult grips, and then gradually progress to larger holds as you fatigue. It's also good to vary the grip positions trained to spread out the neuromuscular stimulus. For instance, you might begin with shallow two-finger pockets, then progress to small crimps, narrow pinches, small slopers, shallow three-finger pockets, medium crimps, deep two-finger pockets, medium slopers, medium crimps, and large slopers. Therefore, performing one set of repeaters (ten repetitions) for each of these ten grip positions would result in a total of 100 near-maximal contractions--a pretty good finger workout!

More ideas for Finger Strength Training can be found on Eric Hörst site here;

Friday, 16 March 2012

Scotland March 2012 and others

This was the final blast up to Scotland for the 2011/2012 season, Kasia wrote a excellent account of the Trip here, so I would not do it justice by trying to re write what she has written...

Time to pack the axes away and hope that next year is better

Other videos from this season are ...

Lakes in search of New routes.... 

Scotland with a link to Kasias Blog;

Wales just after the big Thaw.... 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Mental Control (Author Unknown)

I was going through all my documents and research I have built up over the years and I found this as a word document, I can't remember where it came from and who wrote it... so I can't credit anyone, but it is a pretty good piece on Mental Control and I thought it was worth sharing... 

Mental Control

Often the difference between winning and losing depends on your mental control. Getting and keeping your head together can be much easier if you use some of the tools of sports psychology: 1) Develop self-confidence; 2) use mental imagery, and; 3) control doubt and negative thoughts. These techniques help you develop and master mental control. Sports psychology is a large field requiring many years of study. In climbing, especially climbing competitions, routes are designed at the peak of a climber's ability. This information is not all-inclusive and is intended to provide a general overview of gaining mental control to improve your performance and spark your further personal study.

Develop Self-confidence to Enhance Mental Control

A climber's self-confidence is probably the greatest asset in developing your mental control over your body's reaction to stress. Self-confidence doesn't happen by simply deciding to be confident - it takes a deliberate and planned effort. Self-confidence is not a matter of "fooling" yourself into believing something false. Just the opposite - it is based on accurately knowing yourself. Self-confidence allows you to take appropriate risks and climb at the top of your ability.

The most effective way to build self-confidence is by setting performance-based goals. Set attainable and measurable performance goals and make sure you achieve them. Then set new goals and achieve them. Through this process you learn your own abilities. By knowing your own capabilities you avoid surprise failure and develop confidence in yourself. Believing in yourself helps you develop mental control
Your goals to attain mental control should be measured in terms of performance, not achievement. An example of an achievement goal is: "win the competition". This is not a good performance based goal. Examples of performance based goals are: "Increase pull-ups by 1 per week"; or, "increase endurance training by 1 minute per session"; or "increase dead-hang time by 10 seconds per week", etc. There are many aspects to achieving mental control to improve your climbing performance. Develop as many performance based goals as you can manage. Design your goals to be achievable within about a week or two weeks time. This will give you a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and help you develop a keen sense of your own abilities.

Mental Imagery (described below) is also useful for building self-confidence and control. This is useful if your lack of self-confidence or other "mind game" factors are interfering with your ability to achieve a goal. However, a note of caution. It is possible to use imagery to improperly build a level of over-confidence. Using imagery without rationally considering your actual abilities can lead to over-confidence and unexpected failure, which will cause a loss of confidence. Over-confidence is just as bad as a lack of confidence - maybe worse. Over confidence does not lead to mental control, it is a misreading of your own ability. If you are over-confident you will not give the climb 100% effort and may lead you to attempt something that you are not capable of doing. It can lead to an unexpected failure, which can destroy your self-confidence.
Self-confidence should come from a realistic understanding of your abilities based on incrementally achieving performance-based goals.

Mental Control using Imagery and Positive Thinking

Using imagery, you imagine smooth controlled climbing, proper rests, shaking, clipping, breathing, good technique, etc… all the way to the top. Imagery can and should be used during previews, before a difficult move, at night in bed, waiting in a line at the store, on a bus or passenger in a car (but not as driver). Think and imagine yourself climbing and moving like a climber you admire - or visualize yourself making a particular move. Visualize the feeling, momentum, and balance. Visualize only correct climbing technique and form. Gain mental control of yourself and the climbing route by focusing and creating positive mental imagery.
Visualizing reinforces climbing movement in your mind - so use it to reinforce good movement. Visualizing is training for your mind. Do do not dwell on bad moves. Analyze what went wrong then visualize the correct movement from the beginning of the sequence through the end of the section. Imagine the feeling of the holds/rock, your momentum, your breathing, where you chalk up - be as vivid with your imagery as you can. It is a skill that needs to be developed just like physical skill.

Imagery can also be used to help you relax and lower your stress level. This can be helpful in competitions or in many other situations in climbing. Imagine a peaceful, relaxing, happy or fun place. Make it as vivid as possible by visualizing every detail, the warm sun, feeling of joy, smells… every detail that goes with your "happy place". Use this imagery technique to reduce stress and maintain mental control.
Imagery can be used to push your limits, for specific moves, for general technique, to break through a mental block, to reduce stress, or to build up your self-confidence. Be aware that imagery can be used to an unhealthy extreme. Use imagery and positive thinking within realistic boundaries to push yourself to new heights and break through barriers. This is an effective tool when used correctly.

Mental Control over Doubt and Negative Thoughts

In the same way positive imagery "teaches" your mind through a visualized reinforcement, negative thoughts also teach your mind - the wrong thing. Get control of your mental thoughts. Make a conscious point not to allow negative thoughts to dominate. Answer negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
Sometimes negative thoughts are difficult to get out of your head. I may help to physically speak the positive out loud several times. If you are in a crowd or around other people do it sub-vocally. It is a stronger reinforcement when spoken. Respond to negative thoughts with positive thoughts based on clear and rational assessments of your known ability.

Become aware of your thoughts. Normally thoughts will come and go and you will hardly notice. Watch for feelings of inadequacy, criticism, feelings of stress, worry. Awareness is the first step to gaining more mental control. As you become more aware of your thoughts you can learn to control them.
But how do you not think of something? If someone says "do not think of a red balloon", you immediately visualize a red balloon whether you want to or not. Not thinking of something is more difficult than thinking about something. When you get a thought that is counter productive, make a conscious effort to visualize it's opposite. Speak the opposite if possible, or at least speak it sub-vocally. For example: "red balloon": now think of a green balloon and say "green balloon" out loud. It is now green. Use this technique to conquer doubt, negative thoughts and reinforce your good technique, confidence, and positive self-image. You are what you think, so think what you want yourself to be.


These are simple tools you can use to help break through mental barriers, maintain mental control under stressful situations and build new self-confidence. It may well take you to a new level of climbing. Top athletes, coaches and trainers in every sport agree the proper application of sports psychology provides a significant boost in performance level. Self-confidence will help you climb at your best. Using mental imagery and controlling doubt will help you press through mental barriers. Developing these simple techniques are as important as your physical training.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Previewing a Route in a Comp...

Although this is geared towards a competitor standing at the bottom of a route, about to have the route preview, almost any of it can be adapted to normal onsite "route reading"... hopefully you can take something from it and use it for your own climbing...

Tara & Molly at the EYC Ratho 2011

Previewing a route properly can mean the difference between moving smoothly through a section and wasting energy matching hands, searching for feet or down climbing to fix sequences. This is a skill and one that should be practiced. There are several things to consider when previewing a route such as rests, clipping stance, cruxes, alternate sequences, pacing, and distances between holds.

Here are a few tips that will help when previewing:

• Know the Start of the Route - One of the worst things that can happen is to not know where the start of your route is, or to preview the wrong route. Make sure you know where you have to start and that you are looking at the correct route. If no one else from your category is there then chances are you are not looking at the right route.

Some competitions do not specify the starting holds and you can start on what you can reach. Make sure that you choose starting holds that will put you in the correct sequence.

• Work Down Through Confusing Sequences - If you get to a section of the route where you can not determine the sequence look ahead and find the next hold that you know how to grab and work backwards. For instance if you find a confusing sequence and you see that five feet above is a hold that you know you have to grab with your left hand then you can find the previous hold that your right hand would have to be on and work the sequence down. Once you have worked back down through the sequence go back up it and continue on the route.

• Judge the Distance Between Holds - Know the distance between holds and what you are capable of. If you know a wall has 4'x8' panels or 3'x3' panels then it is much easier to measure the distance between holds, look at the panel sizes and approximate the distance. This will help when looking to skip a move or when you are worried about a large move.

• Walk Around - Most routes at larger competitions will be on very high steep walls. It is almost impossible to see the entire route from one location. Walk around and look at the route from numerous angles.

This does more than just allow you to see the whole route. If you are wondering how large or incut a hold is then stand back and get a di_ernt look at it, or walk way off to the side and try to see behind it. How much you can walk around will depend on the size of the area that you are given for the preview. In some competition you may be allowed to walk into the crowd or at least ask them to move.

• Dance the Sequence - When you are previewing it may help to move your hands and feet in the sequence that your are previewing. There are two reasons for this one is to help you memorize the sequence and the other is to make sure that you are not missing any moves. by moving your body in sequence of the route you will be able to remember the moves easier in isolation, similar to dancing. To be told a dance and then have to do it is alot harder than doing the dance as you are learning it.

• Talk to Others - Other competitors in your category will have Different opinions on sequences. This may be due to height, strengths or perceptions on the quality of the holds. In addition some people are better at reading a sequence that others. Talk to others and figure out what they are doing. It may be that you are reading it wrong or that you are assuming a hold is better than it is. This will also help so that when you go back to isolation you have the same terms for holds.

• Identify Crux Clips and Sequences - If you can identify the crux of a route from the ground then that will allow you to get set up for it better. Cruxes are not necessarily moves but can be clips as well. If you identify a crux clip then you can decide where the best place to clip it will be. It may be that you have to climb past it a little ways before clipping, or you may have to reach way up to clip it to avoid clipping in the middle of the crux.

• Plan Your Pace - It is just as important to identify the easy sections of a route as it is to see the cruxes. If you can spot the easier moves then you will know to move slower, chalk up and rest through these sections. You will also know where to move quickly to avoid wasting energy fooling around in the harder sections. Practice this on routes that you are onsighting. Try and move slow through the easy sections and quickly through the harder ones.

• Helpful Instruments - IFSC rules state that you are allowed to use any non electronic device to help preview or record the route. Basically this means that you can sketch the route or use binoculars to help preview the route. It is probably best to practice sketching a route numerous times at home or in local competitions before doing this at a large competition. It can take a long time to sketch an entire route. Drawing out small sections to discuss with others may help though.

• Use Your 40 Seconds - Before stepping onto the route you are given 40 seconds to do whatever you want. It is best if you get into a routine where you do the same thing every competition but here are a few suggestions.

1. Look at the confusing sequences. Chances are you have talked to someone in isolation about these sequences so make sure that what you decided to do will actually work.

2. Look at the first few moves. Make sure that you know the firstmoves on the route. You can get very nervous on a route if you do not know the sequence leaving the ground.

3. Massage your forearms and chalk up. Just stand there looking at the route and keeping your forearms loose and relaxed.

4. Be focused. Do what you have to do in order to be focused. This will be different for different people so try and perfect this at local competitions.

5. It also helps to be able to adapt on a route. If the sequence you saw in preview will not work you should be able to identify this on the route and quickly change your sequence to a better more efficient one. To do this it helps to always be looking two or three moves ahead. If you know you have to get your left hand on a hold that is a couple of moves away then you know that you must climb a certain sequence that will end with you left hand on that hold.

A good drill for this is to get on routes that you would normally onsight and not preview. Every move look ahead and call out your next two moves. This forces you to be looking ahead and constantly knowing the next few moves without knowing them from the ground.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mental Preparation - Visualisation


One of the major differences between great climbers and good climbers is their ability to visualise a route. Good climbers visualise from a third person angle, watching themselves as if they were looking through a camera. Great climbers visualise from a first person angle looking at each move through their own eyes.

Try and visualise yourself climbing a route. Now try and visualise each move as though you can see your hand moving towards a hold, your foot reaching for each foothold.

Can you see the difference?

By visualising in first person mode you are preparing yourself for what the route will actually look like when you get on it.

Next time you are stood at the bottom of a route and doing your route read try to visualise yourself climbing it.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Urban Tooling

With there being little opportunity in Leicestershire for tooling or ice climbing, we make do with what facilities are on hand...

Friday, 17 February 2012

12 tips for climbing...

To help improve your own climbing ability you need to learn some basics and practice good climbing technique.
  1. It is important to always Warm Up properly before you start climbing. Your muscles and ligaments don’t function if they are tight and cold and you are at more risk of injuring yourself.
  2. Take time to route read before you climb a route, identify the crux sequence, crux clips and most importantly where you can rest on a route! Work down through confusing sequences from a obvious hold if you cant work up it.
  3. Avoid over gripping, your grip strength is the first to go!
  4. Work on balance as this will help make hard moves easier if you can get in balance first..
  5. Keep your body close to the wall.
  6. Use your legs and feet to take your weight, not your arms. Your legs muscles are much stronger so use them!.
  7. Arms should be used for balance and shifting weight, not holding weight. When doing moves and sequences that require upper body strength, move quickly through the sequence.
  8. Use momentum to peak at the dead point, practice this technique..
  9. Combining both static and dynamic elements of climbing technique will determine your speed of climbing.
  10. Using the right techniques at the right time will give you a huge advantage.
  11. Learn to rest on a route/problem, muscles will perform longer with short rests, working this will help develop endurance.
  12. Have fun!

Striding Edge Feb 2012

The idea was to go out and do a new route, I had my eye on something, Bullock had said, "when you stand under it you will probably know why it has never been done..."

I didn't know the area... but ... upon arrival in the lakes there was no new routes to be had without the lynch mob hunting us down.

With all the problems and discussions of whether routes are in or out of winter conditions.. so we opted for taking all our kit for a long walk... and the route still awaits a decent spell of cold weather to get a first ascent.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


Resting is the ability to recover energy/strength while still climbing. It is a skill that is learned and should be trained. Many top climber attribute their success not to their strength but to their ability to rest and recover on a route. In general the steeper and harder the route the harder it is to find a resting position. This chapter will deal with funding resting positions, how to maximize the resting position and how to train your resting technique.

Finding a Resting Position

Resting positions are places where you can relax one arm then the other for at least a short period of time. The best rests are obviously no hands rests where all your weight is on your feet. When looking for a resting position try to find somewhere where you can take as much weight as possible off your hands (stems, heel, hools, big footholds...) and where the handholds are close enough together to switch back and forth. The reason that you need to switch back and force easily is that you do not want to be wasting energy moving between the resting holds.

Maximize the Rest

When resting, it is important to try and relax your arms as much as possible. The quality of the resting position, the amount that your arms are pumped, the difficulty of the next series of moves and how far you are from the top will all factor into how long you choose to stay in the rest. If the rest is a slightly strenuous one then you will have to think about how much you can recover before the rest itself starts to tire you out.

Even a quick shake between holds can be enough to recover a little bit of strength.

As you enter the rest position try to place your feet well first. This does not mean that your feet have to stay where they are as you switch hands, in fact in most cases you will have to adjust your feet and certainly your weight distribution as you alternate hands. If you are pumped going into the rest start by alternating your hands quite quickly. As you start to lose your pump a little bit you can start holding on with each hand slightly longer, giving the other arm a longer time to recover. The hand that is holding on should be as relaxed as possible but there are lots of options for what to do with the arm that is hanging.

Concentrate on your breathing and force yourself to take long slow breaths, this will again help you relax and slow down your heart rate. As you rest continue to evaluate your feet and determine if they are in the best spot, or can you improve them.

Eric Horst talks about a method of depumping in his article:

This method uses gravity to help drain the used blood from your forearms to allow new blood with more oxygen into them. The trick is to hold your forearms above your head as you shake out. You do not have to hold you arms up the whole time but it does help to do this for about 10 seconds at a time.

Try to relax the resting arm as much as possible, try stretching your forearm out against the wall, against your thigh or against your hips if necessary. This will open up the arteries and veins in your forearm and allow you to recover faster.

As you alternate hands concentrate on shifting your weight directly below the hand hold and onto your feet as much as possible. If you are matching on a hold and your feet are directly below you a little shuffle of the hips should be all that is necessary to help you relax. If the resting holds are not equal in quality (one is harder to hold than the other) then minimize the amount of time spent holding onto the bad hold.

A good tip is to use the rope itself to take the weight off your hands. If it is possible to make a clip above you and downclimb to the rest without too much difficulty then you should do this. Once the rope is clipped above you and you are back in the resting position try and weight the rope a little. The weight of the rope and rope drag going down to your belayer should be able to take some weight off of your arms. As you shift between hands you may need to shift your hips higher every time and then sit back down on the rope.

Your belayer will not notice the difference at their end of the rope.

When you decide that it is time to leave the rest, start breathing harder again and alternating your hands back and forth quicker. Concentrate on the next series of moves coming up. This will better prepare you for any hard moves coming up that you need to pull down on.

Learning to Rest and Training

Most people when first told to rest will complain that the rest tires them out too much.

It is more work to rest than the strength that they recover. Resting is a skill and there is a technique to it. You have to force yourself to rest in order to learn how it feels.

Resting Drills

To learn how to rest set a boulder circuit or routes on slightly overhanging walls. At the start of the circuit, or at the bottom of the routes, place two holds that are not huge but that you can hold onto quite easily. If you are just starting this drill give yourself very generous feet, as you become more comfortable resting use smaller and smaller feet.

Climb the circuit until you start to feel pumped then get to the rest. Force yourself to stay in the rest for a fixed amount of time even (say five minutes) even if it seems too long. Make sure that the rest allows you to switch your arms back and forth and doesn't allow a no hands rest. Concentrate on the points listed above such as centre your weight, weight your feet as much as possible and concentrate on your breathing.

After awhile you should be able to make the rest harder. Make it more difficult to switch your hands back and forth, make one hand harder to rest on than the other, give yourself only one foothold, etc... After time you should be able to find rests easier and know how much recovery you can get from a rest. You should also be able to determine when you are too pumped to recover and when you need to rest. Play around with this drill at the end of an endurance session.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Knee Drops and Flagging

Kneedropping and flagging are both ways of using your feet to position your body for either moving or stabilizing. This section will deal with these two techniques for movement.


Kneedrops occur when you backstep you foot on the same side of your body as the foot. For instance if you put your right foot out to the right and it is placed as a backstep then you knee will be pointing in towards you rather than away from you. If your foot is higher than where your knee normally would be and you turn your knee in and down then this is a deep drop knee, the classic definition of the term.

This technique is very useful for holding your hips against the wall on steeper angles, it is not that useful for slab climbing. If your hips are against the wall then you are able to pull across your body with your other hand.

Try this. On a slightly overhanging wall start with your hands at chest height on two straight down pulling holds that are about shoulder width apart. Place your left foot on a foot hold directly below the handholds at a comfortable distance. Take your right foot and place it just below hip height about two feet to the right. Turn your right knee in and down and try and pull your right hip against the wall. This should make it easier for you to reach with your right hand out and up. Do the same thing out to the left. You can also try and climb into these positions and then out of them. It helps to rotate in and out of kneedrops.


Flagging is when you only have one foot on a foothold. Even without another foot hold the other foot can be used to stabilize or to generate momentum. This is accomplished by flagging. There are roughly three types of flagging:

• Normal Flag - the leg that you are flagging is out to the same side. If you have your right foot on a foothold and place your left foot out to the left. The left foot can be smeared or in the air.

• Reverse Outside Flag - the leg that you are flagging is crossed behind the leg on the foothold. If you have your left foot on a foothold and cross your right lag behind your left leg.

• Reverse Inside Flag - the leg that you are flagging is crossed in front of the leg on the foothold. If you have your left foot on a foothold and cross your right left in front of your left leg. This flag is particularly useful for avoiding a foot match.

The degree to which to flag will depend on what you are trying to do. On a move that requires a flag you may need to play around with how much you want to flag. It will depend on how far you have to move, what your other foot is on and where, and the size of handholds you are using. Try and climb one footed to see where flagging is useful and where it is not. Remember to try all three types of flagging in order to build these moves into your climbing repertoire. Below Orrin Coley kindly demonstrates the techniques explained in this post

Monday, 6 February 2012


“…the butterflies flitter, then flutters then fly…”

This will be one of my lasting memories of Bic, he was sat reading a bedtime story to Harley, it is so appropriate if you consider ….

A butterfly can light up like a sunbeam beside us and for the briefest of moments its glory and beauty belong to our world but then it flies again, although we wish it could have stayed.... we feel lucky to have seen it.

So today is our chance to say thank you to Bic for the way he brightened our lives.

Bic lived a truly amazing life, and it is only natural that we will all feel cheated by the way he was taken from us while he was still so young but we must also learn to be grateful that he came along and somehow touched the lives of each and everyone of us.

It is important that we don’t consume ourselves with the “what if’s” and questions like, how or why did he die, we should ask and remember … how did he live?

I personally only knew Bic as a close friend for 5 years although at the Tower I knew him for a lot longer, but in what feels like a life time, we became very good friends and climbing partners.

Initially he was always asking advice on routes/kit etc, then we went climbing and just evolved….

As a climbing partner he was 100% committed, 100% trustworthy and when it was going wrong on a route he knew 100% when enough was enough and it was time to bail. But when we climbed together we were kings, we could try anything and knew that we would be man enough to walk away if we needed to.

Helping out at comps or weekends away with the team and squeezing in time for our personal climbing

I was thinking about some of the last climbs that either we did or I was around for, after looking them up in guide book I began to saw a common theme…

Suspense; fine climbing with just enough rests to make you appreciate the fine position even more..
Wuthering; a devious but classic exposed solution to this fine buttress
Archangel; one of the greatest rites of passage for any ambitious gritstoner, where total commitment and faith in ones technique will bring fourth unforgettable success…
Two Step Corner A superb Ice Climb which has a reputation for being considerably steeper than it looks!
Orion Direct; One of the finest winter climbs in Scotland with all the atmosphere of a major alpine face…

… the common theme being these were all inspirational routes … routes with meaning, where you had to have total trust and belief in the people around you, this was the effect of Bic, for me, he was there either on a dash out climbing or when everybody else was on a rest day we could go off and do something hard, which the group were generally thankful of! For others he was a leader and an organiser, he was last to bed at night and up at the crack of dawn making the porridge and tea for everybody to hustle people out to get to the hill…

One of the most memorable of routes for some would be;

Great Gully; A route of tremendous character, old fashioned in everyway and all the better for it, do not be fooled by the grade, this is a beast in all but the driest conditions…

So on a horrible wet welsh weekend, with a large group of us, someone decided it would be a good idea!! Yup … Bic!

He loved life, lived it how he wanted, and lived it to best of his abilities he always weighed up the positives and negatives in life, and being the kind of person he was he chose life, he didn’t give in to his epilepsy and didn’t want to sacrifice the things he loved to do.

Bic’s death was sudden – so sudden that I couldn't even believe it, it didn’t register when Charlie told me. He was too young too die but thankfully he lived his life wonderfully and managed to cram more into 35 years than most people do in a life time.

I am sure we will all have many opportunities in the coming days, months and years to remember Bic, whether its climbing some grotty chimney or gully in Wales, out walking in the horizontal rain or even in the house doing diy, remembering him for all that he meant to us, if we can each have a quick think about a moment we shared with Bic however silly, funny, insignificant or special… the first thing that comes into your mind about him, remember that day, where you were and what you were doing….

…we've all lost a friend, a champion and a leader and we are going to take some time adjust to that but Bic has left legacy which will continue to inspire in the tales that we all can tell and the memories we all have. These memories will grow, the tears will turn to smiles and the memories will be forever cherished and remembered by each of us, as he will live in my memory forevermore.

I trust that some day I will meet Bic again and once again we'll be climbing in the clouds and laughing so hard that we cry.

Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush, I am the swift, uplifting rush of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep.

~ Mary Elizabeth Frye