When climbing with Lou Renner and Leon Kaatz, you can’t help but learn something new, and I learned many new things last week when climbing with them. Here are a few of them:
- When smearing, keep your heel down for maximum purchase on the rock. The minute you lift your heel, you’ve lost the friction and you’ve lost the smear.
- Hand-pumping on a hold is a sign of not knowing the route. If I person is pumping the hand hold, then they’re not sure where (or if) they are on a route, or where to go. This wastes valuable time and energy and often leads to a fall.
- Remember to breathe. Breathing in a slow, calm, deep manner supplies that critical oxygen to your muscles and to your brain! Be aware of your breathing as you climb, and don’t let your breathing get out of control. Don’t hold your breath, either. Just breathe in a smooth, controlled manner and you’ll be much more in control of the climb.
- After a rest on a route, set your pace aggressively again on the route. Don’t come out of the rest sluggish or at a slow pace. Get going! You have to push yourself into setting an aggressive pace again after a rest, but it’ll get you to the top of the route faster and more efficiently. What I found with this practice is that it encourages pure movement upon re-engaging the route after a rest. I tend not to overthink the movement if I’m concentrating on aggressively pacing myself on the route.
- Heel hooks and toe hooks are great tools in your kit if you know how to use them. I did a toe hook on a boulder to get around an arête and it worked beautifully! Heel and toe hooks transfer the weight off of the arm on the same side as the heel or toe hook so that you can reach the next hold with that same-side hand.
- Stretching into a no-hands rest if you can is a fantastic option! It gives you the opportunity to rest your entire upper body. Remember, in a stem, to turn your hips one way or the other and not to try to stem “face-on”, as this will point your toes directly into the wall and you won’t be able to reach as far with your legs, nor will you be able to rest as effectively (or at all).
- As you climb a route, loosen your grip in your lower hand as soon as you establish a hand hold with your upper hand, so that it just lifts off of (almost gliding off of) the hand hold you held with it. This conserves strength in your hands and prevents over-gripping by ensuring that you have light hands.
These techniques will improve your climbing immensely if practiced, but they do take practice because they aren’t necessarily intuitive. Together, and in your toolbox, they can strengthen your climbing and take you to a whole new level of climbing!!!