This weekend, I looked at a 5.10a route and asked, “How quickly can I climb this thing?”

I tied in and scrambled up the wall as fast as I could. 57 seconds.

Once back on the ground, I counted the number of hand hold moves: 20.

Given the standard pattern of hand hold, move one foot, move other foot, repeat, that comes out to approximately one move per second.

On one hand, I’m pleased that I could decide and move without interruption. Also, my forearms weren’t at all tired from the climb.

On the other hand, it simply wasn’t fun. It turns out one of the things I like about climbing is deliberately planting and feeling a solid hold and balanced body position. I don’t get that when I’m just trying to move fast.

Speed climbing (this wasn’t even close), definitely not my thing.


  1. For speed climbing to be enjoyable, you need the proper motivation. Most likely a bear. Maybe you gym can rent bears to encourage speed climbing? I would imagine that you would start with a small bear, then work your way up to larger bears and eventually a mountain lion or cougar when you get to that kind of level. If you have a really fancy gym, maybe a snow leopard?

    • You’ve hit upon a fabulous market opportunity here! Forget speed climbing, I want a gym with mountain goats scattered along the routes!!!

      • OK, so bears are level 1, mountain goats are level 2, and large predatory cats are advanced level 3 motivators. (male mountain goats can be VERY territorial…)

        For competition level, we activate the shark pool at the base of the wall. I’m thinking we can pitch this to ESPN.

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