Routes are routes, and boulders are boulders. Power is power, endurance is endurance. Pretty simple when you think of it like this, but misleading to say the least. Far too often we slip back into that same old cycle... "It's route season, I should be training on a rope." "I need power, I should boulder." "Maybe I should train endurance, since I'm getting pumped on my project."
Damn, I wish it were that simple.
Climbing, in terms of movement, is easily the most complex sport I've ever been involved with. Many compare it to gymnastics, but the variety of movement required for climbing is far beyond the scope of the limited movements you learn through gymnastics. In such a complex sport, can we even begin to train simply?
You can, but you have to boil it down to specifics.
This past route season I tried a different approach to my in-season training. A more specific approach. My first project of the season was a 13c called "Angry Birds". At 100 feet or so tall, and varying from slightly overhanging techy pockets to a full on jump from a terrible blocky pinch in a roof, "Angry Birds" was going to be an exercise in recovery. To train for the route, I remained on a rope in the gym, linking cruxy sections of 5.12's through a 120 foot path, always separated by decent rests. My training "route" was probably in the 13b range, but utilized several rests that weren't nearly as generous as the ones that "Angry Birds" provided. The first day outside after sending my indoor project, I surprised myself by clipping the chains on "Angry Birds".
All of my partners were still psyched on the same crag, where I had few options remaining. An adjoining crag held a route that had given me fits in the few times I had ventured up it. At 13d, "Ultraperm" is a power endurance testpiece, and I had never even been to the chains, despite 3 attempts at bolt-to-bolting it. In fact, the steep crux section was so difficult for me that I'd not gotten through it without pulling on draws. There were 4 possible sequences at every bolt, each as difficult and confusing as the next. Frustrating.
The process on the route is a story in itself, which I'll leave for my next post, but what's important here is that despite my training for "Angry Birds" having been successful, I knew I needed to make a complete departure from it. "Ultraperm" breaks down as a 2 bolt 12a, to a long V8ish boulder problem, to a terrible shake, to a V5ish boulder problem. No recovery required, since there was nowhere to recover.
In the gym I went about setting a few problems with slopey pockets and wide pinches on the steeper walls. I spent about 1 1/2 hours of each session working problems I thought I could send in a session or two, usually of about 5-8 moves. After that, I dove right into a steep 4x4 that broke down much like "Ultraperm". V4, V8, V3, V5. The V8 was a "simulator" for the steepest section of the route. Split finger pockets, big reaches, and ultra-tension required.
"Ultraperm" became my first 13d, though not without a fight. We'll talk about that later.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I came into this summer training season with more power than I've ever entered an "off season" with. I blame "Ultraperm". More specifically, I blame specificity.