I didn’t post anything after last week’s session at the wall, mainly because I had nothing much to talk about. The climbing had been good and I had lead another couple of routes at 3+ to increase slowly but that was about it. I went home happy but feeling that I had hit the point that all of the instruction books warn about. My ability has reached a plateau and if I don’t change my goals I am likely to get frustrated and just give up! The quest to improve and push grades is apparently the strategy of most beginners. I’m no different, I want to improve and take on more challenging routes but I need to “play the long game” in order to succeed. If I just keep on trying (and failing) to complete a 6b climb I will struggle, get tired and go home feeling that I’ve achieved nothing.
Referring back to the “Performance Rock Climbing” book this is very common and is the point where most newbie climbers start to lose the enthusiasm that has driven that ambition to improve.
So this week needed something slightly different. Si suggested that we start on the bouldering wall and “tick off” all of the lowest grade routes. Until last week, we hadn’t realised that there was any kind of grading on the wall that we go to! Now that we have sussed it, it makes good sense. My ego felt a bit deflated at the thought of just doing the “ladder” routes. However it turned out to be a good tactic, 8 routes of fairly straightforward bouldering built up my confidence and set me up for something more challenging.
Harnessed up we did a couple of 5a routes and I attempted to tackle an overhanging 6a that had defeated me last week. I still couldn’t beat it and decided to give up and move on. We found a good 5+ route on a slab and Si decided to repeat it three times in quick succession. I had read about this technique but had never felt able to try it myself as it would mean Si standing and belaying me for a long stretch and that could get boring! I then did the same route, struggled with the crux at the top section but got there in the end. Repeated it twice more and by the third attempt I not only moved more quickly but more smoothly through every move. This was a clear demonstration of the “motor engrams” theory in action. I really did feel it working, the easier sections just passed by without a thought and the final and most difficult part was now much less of a challenge. To add to that, my heart rate was up and I felt like I was getting a good workout too. As it happens, my concern that it may be boring for each other to do that wasunfounded and actually allows a good rest time.
So, although I hadn’t moved on a grade or completed anything that I had struggled with previously, I went home feeling that I have definitely made progress. I now look forward to next week with the view that I am going “training” rather than just climbing. Hopefully a few weeks of employing this technique of repetition and I will be able to improve my grade a little and give my ego a little massage!