Core

Small observation from top roping Wednesday night: I’m learning to keep my arms straight, position my feet, and reach starting with my legs and body. It feels way more stable and effortless than reaching with my arms. Especially overhangs.

I’m really enjoying how swimming and climbing are teaching me basics of stable and efficient body movement.

I wonder, if I’d learned these concepts before picking up hockey, how much faster I could have improved on the ice.

I suppose I can still try out some of these ideas and use the ones that pan out for coaching.

Ow My Hands

Apparently, not climbing for three weeks means your hands and wrists hate you after you start again, either for not working them for so long, or for working them all of a sudden. Not sure which. Maybe both. Probably both.

Also, I forgot how to climb. I went into the bouldering room with the tricky-but-solved V2 / V3 / V4 problems and couldn’t figure out how to do any of them. Not a clue.

Afterward, I remarked to Aaron how quickly I forget how to swim and climb. They’re still new to me, and not ingrained in muscle memory like skating. I’ve gotten away with weeks and months long hockey breaks without missing a step, but 15 years is a heck of a lot more than (not even) 15 weeks.

15 weeks? If I put it that way, I’ve made great progress. :)

Flash

I noticed this weekend that they’d put up new problems in a large section of one of the bouldering rooms, so this morning I went to play on them.

Flashed a V0, V0, V1, and V2 on the warmup. Did a weird and fun V3 after piecing together a couple sections, then worked on its neighboring V4. I tried it a few times, getting stuck near the top, but closer each time. I then teamed up with the other guy in the room on it to figure out the finish. Victoly!!1!

I went to a different V4 after that. I tried that a few times too and kept getting stuck near the top. On my final attempt, I realized both my arms and body were too tired to work on it more.

Last Saturday I decided I needed more endurance, so I burned my way down. Flashed a V3, V2, V1, V0, V0, V0 with minimal rest, then called it a day.

I’ll be back for that V4.

Climb More

Made it up a 5.11b and 5.11a today, with rest. The technique is there, my grip just needs more endurance.

Clearly, the solution is to climb more.

I almost didn’t mention that I climbed a 5.10c. Those are… easy now?

Pull-rific

Bouldering day! My left triceps were still sore from all the tuck and bail attempts Sunday, but the rest of me felt decent so why not? To the climbing gym!

Warmed up on 2 V0s and 2 V1s. Then I went straight for a blocky V3 I’ve been looking at. It was easier than I thought it would be. Climbed it on the first try, then climbed it again immediately, more cleanly.

Spied a super hangey (a.k.a. steep) V3 with nice deep holds. It was quite the full body workout. I almost got stuck on the final move, until I remembered to turn my left knee in so I could get my hip closer to the wall. It felt like an odd position, but once I locked it in I was super stable and could reach the final hold fairly easily.

Flashed a V2, then its sister V3. I’m starting to feel pretty comfortable with fingertip* side pulls, probably from battling the fingertip pull-rific V3 I couldn’t finish a couple weeks ago.

That reminds me, I need to go solve that problem.

* I bet you there’s an official name for these. I also bet you I’ll look back at this post someday and chuckle at how I thought these fatties were “fingertip” holds.

Try, Try Again

Returned to the bouldering walls intent on solving the V3 I’ve been working on. Warmed up with a V0, V0, V0, V1, V1+, took a short rest, then started in on it.

Made it up to the final move without too much trouble. Remembered that I had decided it was a slightly harder mirror image of the start. Channeled my start position, went for it, and missed. Except today, my other hand remained firmly attached to the hold it was on. I was surprised, then remembered that my Balance and Technique instructor had mentioned how I tend to let go with both hands when I leap for things that only require one hand. Hanging on is progress! Reset my hang, wound, and sprung again. Success!

There was a V3 in the corner of the room I’ve been looking at. I couldn’t figure out how on earth to get to the top, until I saw someone solve it last week. She had somehow tucked herself into a super tiny package perched upon a single foothold 8 feet off the ground. So I tried to do the same.

Getting into the compact perch was kind of fun. Reaching the next hold from that position was… challenging. I tried and bailed, tried and bailed again. I remembered watching Danny MacAskill’s repeated tries and bails yesterday. So I kept trying. And bailing. And trying.

After maybe the 8th try, one of the guys in the room commented, “That’s quite a problem.” We talked a bit about it, then he asked me for some advice on a V1 he had just climbed. He could tell there was a better way. I could tell it was because he wasn’t turning his hips, so I told him about that technique and showed him how it applied to the problem he was asking about.

I got back on the V3. This time, while in my little compact perch 8 feet off the ground, the guy I’d been talking to pointed out a couple things I could try. Another pair of eyes was exactly what I needed; I improved my position a bit, reached with my left hand (I’d stupidly been reaching with my right hand even though my left hip was on the wall) for the elusive penultimate hold, got both hands on it, set my feet, and finished the problem. Yes!!!

Hopped on a sloper-tastic V3 on my way out. Totally getting comfortable with the sideways hang on those holds. It puts your weight directly under your hands and the force vectors just right for maximum grip. Climbed it, then climbed it again cleanly. Called it a day.

Puzzlin’

Headed back to the bouldering walls intending to solve the uncompleted V3 and V4 problems from last time.

Warmed up on a V0, V0+, and V1. Then I attempted a new (blue) V2 with a start that completely puzzled me. I tried a bunch of times and could not hang on to the first move.

Hopped on a different V2, one that I’d attempted unsuccessfully once last time. Finished it. Felt better.

Tried the blue V2 again. Puzzled some more. Successfully climbed everything after the first move. Puzzled some more.

Climbed a new V2+ to make myself feel better.

Went back to the blue V2. Puzzled.

Climbed another new V2+ to make myself feel better.

Went back to the blue V2. Finally asked the other guy in the room if he’d ever climbed it. He had, once, and after a bit remembered how he’d done it. It involved getting my foot onto the same hold as my left hand, which I had attempted while puzzling. I’m not quite powerful/flexible enough to get my foot up like that. I cheated my way into that start position (I think “legal” because I had my hands on the correct start holds) to complete the climb.

Then I worked on the start until I could do it without cheating. Completed the climb again. Yeeh!

Remembering as I write this what my Balance and Technique instructor said about getting our feet high. Get those feet high!

Next, the V4. This one had a tricky move early that involved a crazy sideways lean followed by swinging both legs from left to right. I tried it a couple times and failed. I wanted to make sure that the second half of the climb was as doable as I thought it would be, so I climbed that separately. Tried the tricky move again and figured out the sequence (another move before the leg swing). Rested, then did the whole thing.

Finally, the V3. I’d had a lot of trouble sticking the second move of this problem (I’d been trying to dyno it), and today I realized the solution was a heel hook. My first actual useful heel hook! From there it was easy to get to the last move, which I still haven’t figured out. Leapt for the finish and missed. Try again next time, when my arms aren’t super tired. Happy to have made progress on this one.

V4: Kind of a Thing Now

Back on the bouldering walls this morning. They completely redid one of the rooms so I got to climb all new to me problems: V0, V1, V0, V1, V2, V3, V4.

I then attempted a different V4, half heartedly. My arms were tired, so I flashed an adjacent V1, then another adjacent V2.

I figured I’d work my way back up, so I attempted a hangey V3. I made 4 or 5 attempts at it, progressing with each attempt. I couldn’t quite commit to the final move, but after I hopped off I realized I should have tried to boost with my other foot. Alas, my forearms were too tired to try it again, so I called it a day and headed out.

But not before I climbed a new V1 and V0 near the exit. This was my first climb / down climb / climb without dismounting. Kind of a fun flow.

Deliberate

Did some bouldering on short rest this morning. Warmed up on a V0, V1, V2, then did the V2+ from last time a little more smoothly. I then set about working on a V3 I started Wednesday night. Tried and failed over and over. Studied it, came up with a new approach, tried and failed again.

Switched problems and flashed a different V3 one of my classmates had pointed out. Lots of side pull switches and traversing.

I thought about my progress these last two months vs. when I climbed on a regular basis in my 20s. Back then I never managed more than V1s and a 5.10b. I’m certainly not as young and spry as I was back then, so why am I doing so much better now?

Approach and mindset. In my 20s I didn’t know how to go about learning. I just did things and figured I’d get better. I applied that same approach to hockey, which worked great until I wanted to move up to Maroon Division. That was when I realized I had to practice specific skills, adjust, and practice some more.

I’ve since learned to apply deliberate practice wherever I can. It makes everything so much more interesting.