Friday, May 27, 2016

Spring Season in Review

At the start of the season I decided I wanted to prioritize getting outside whenever possible, while also making progress on my long term training goals.  This slowed my training cycles down a bit, but it meant that I climbed outside on 25 days at the Red and New between January and May.  The days at the Red included two days of easy trad, a day of hiking cliffs, and another replacing bolts.  I also climbed 7 days straight during spring break, so not all days were optimal sending conditions.  Correspondingly I climbed a high volume of routes between 10a and 11b.  

The punchline of the above chart is that I climbed a years worth of routes in a single season.  This is a result of both climbing more days, but also climbing more 10a+ routes in each day. Both of these are due to the great improvements in my approach to training following the publication of the RCTM in March of 2014. Prior to the Anderson brothers' book I had no idea how I would return to the climbing fitness I enjoyed in my 20's. I still had 5.12 skills, but I was trapped in a body with 5.8 fitness. Floundering on routes that I used to warm up on was hugely demotivating, and figuring out how to return to a process of improving has invigorated my desire to climb and spurred me to improve my general fitness. What is not visible in the chart above is the joy I feel at age 45 from regaining the capacity to climb well on the routes that inspire me.  

Enjoying my climbing again while warming up on Johnny B Good

Below are some photos with highlights from spring season 2016.My first trip to the Red was on February 28th, during the first week of my hangboard cycle.  I was happy to onsight Amarillo Sunset despite neglecting endurance all winter.  Here is Yoichi getting ready to clean the draws on TR.  

One of my early highlights was onsighting 8133 (a cool 11d at the Portal).  8133 is a steep jughaul that starts with a tricky boulder problem.  I was psyched to send this in early March, and well before my performance season.


Diablo is the perfect sport route.  The crux is at the top. It is a clear line on a smooth sweeping wall that gets increasingly steep the entire way.   The route is 75 feet with just 6 bolts, and although the last couple runs are spacious, the falls are clean and fun.  

The crux is on smaller pockets at the end, and it can be hard to onsight because it is not clear which pockets are good and which are bad. You just have to commit to a sequence and roll the dice.  Unlike many RRG routes of similar grade and angle there are no easy rests.  No: kneebars, ledges, calf hooks or coffin rests.  This makes the route a cool test of your deep hold endurance because you have to avoid getting pumped in the 70 feet of big move steep climbing leading to the powerful concluding moves.  


I fell off my flash attempt while grabbing the final hold.  I returned a couple weeks later and sent it next go.  

Early in the season, while bouldering on the Moonboard I tweaked the collateral ligaments in my A2 knuckle of my left index finger just as my power cycle was supposed to start.  This forced a reassessment of my season plans, and so I lowered the intensity of limit bouldering and campusing effort for the whole season.  I took it easy generally in terms of power training, and correspondingly, my power really felt lower this season.  This also meant that my outdoor climbing days tended to include fewer hard routes and fewer routes with bouldery sections.  On the bright side, that included a couple of great trad climbing days.

Not everything was a success.  I narrowly missed flashing Way Up Yonder, and more narrowly missed sending it on my second try a week later.

I got on several 12b’s this season, and got shut down by power moves.  They just felt out of reach in terms of both finger strength and in my capacity to pull off more extreme moves.  This was frustrating in the moment, but as I look back on the actual training that I have been able to do, this ebb in power was completely predictable given my limited ability to invest in the necessary training this season.  Even so, I continued to benefit from the progress in endurance, strength and power endurance all of which are better than they were in the fall.  Plus, I sent at a decently high level from March to May, including sending Betavule Pipeline (12a) on my final trip of the season.

I think the two best insights from my season follow from my growing capacity to enjoyably climb the types of routes that I want to climb as well as my awareness of how to keep training in order to improve into my coming years.  I turned 45 in May and I can see plenty of room to keep improving over the next 5 years, and I think my long term enjoyment of this activity will stem from the progress I am able to make during this time period.

So, I am really thankful for Mark’s ongoing efforts to help others improve and to develop the self awareness to guide their own progress for years to come.  I am glad to contribute in my own local community by helping other climbers reflect on their own climbing/training/goals and to move forward using insights from the RCTM.  Several of my friends have set new benchmarks this spring, and I know that this all stems from the work set into motion by the Andersons.  We all can achieve more now because we are standing on the shoulders of giants, and I am glad for the chance to be part of that process.

(Yoichi climbs with confidence on AWOL)

One for the future. 

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