29 December 2009
18 December 2009
Posted by Dave MacLeod
12 December 2009
Posted by Dave MacLeod
Categories: 9 out of 10 climbers
9 December 2009
Posted by Dave MacLeod
Categories: 9 out of 10 climbers
5 December 2009
Posted by Dave MacLeod
15 November 2009
27 October 2009
Update: BTW I don't have a random dread coming out the back of my head, it's just a dark coloured hold.
24 October 2009
21 October 2009
20 October 2009
10 October 2009
1 October 2009
Paul sent through a mail with questions about choosing different fits of rock shoes for different climbing objective, as well as using other options such as wearing socks. Basically his question was whether it’s best to choose different shoes for different jobs or if one can do everything.
The answer is really to choose the best shoe for exactly the type of climb you are trying, especially thinking about where you are going to fall. Paul asked about specific climbs of mine, such as Rhapsody, which has a jamming crack followed by a face climbing crux.
It’s nice to have the toes a bit flatter in a very slightly bigger shoe for shoving them into jamming cracks without it getting too painful to even want to carry on. Socks can help pad things out too, increasing comfort, protecting your ankles if the crack is big enough for getting the whole foot in, and more importantly for keeping your foot held firmly inside the boot when twisted (you lose a lot of the foot power if your feet are shifting about inside slimy sweaty shoes, yuk!).
On Rhapsody, the choice is simple - use a tighter face climbing shoe, because the jamming part is easy compared to the face climbing that follows. Thats where you are going to fall on the route, and anything less that total precision with your feet is going to cost you.
Paul also asked about a multipitch project of mine - to free the Original Longhope route, where there is an E10 pitch after 18 pitches of trad adventuring. In this case, the choice is a little tougher. Too tight and your feet will die by the time you get to the hard pitch. Too baggy, and you just wont be able to stand on the tiny edge at the crux. A simple compromise is the answer and being disciplined with taking the shoes off at every belay, even if it’s only for 15 minutes or so. For this route I’ve been going a euro size bigger than my sport climbing size. NB I also have a super small pair that only come out for bouldering ‘send attempts’ to get every last drop of force.
But a well fitting shoe should handle 90% of situations without being a significant disadvantage.
The best all round rockshoe in the world in my opinion is still the Scarpa Stix in my opinion. They just seem to excel at absolutely everything. Some of my friends went off them in the shop because they feel weird on the foot (agressively turned down) before they’ve been worn. What a shame because this only lasts one session. The Stix are getting harder to come by in the UK because Scarpa are shortly releasing a new generation of shoes. So my recommendation might come too late for some at least.
21 September 2009
I’ve written a lot on this site and recently in my Coachwise series on the MCofS site about the crippling and often hidden consequences of fear of failure on your climbing (or any skill you are trying to learn). Here is one message for young climbers, and one for adults.
There are some revealing comparisons to be made between the dynamics of fear of failure in adults and youngsters as they learn climbing. Apart from the lucky few that discover the power of focus before adulthood, focus is the main problem for young climbers. In fact most young climbers reading this post will probably have judged it too involved and switched off already. Kids at the wall try a bit of this and a bit of that, and if it takes longer than three seconds to find the correct footholds and body position they lose patience and jump for the hold and let their light bodies swing out below them. Adults look on with jeaslousy at how they hold on and keep going with such obviously poor technique. But of course they pay for such reliance on temporary lightness when they grow into heavy adult bodies and have to learn good footwork with slow learning adult brains.
So the best young climber after the first few years will end up being the one who learns to focus earliest.
But what adults gain in knowing how to discipline themselves and focus on both immediate and longer term tasks, they lose in fear of failure. They become all sensitive that strangers at the climbing wall, their mates or the coach will see them wobble, flail and fall. Without knowing they are doing it, they size up potential climbs to try based on likelihood of embarrassing themselves, rather than anything else. The result? An ever narrowing comfort zone that feels progressively more unpleasant to be outside as the feedback loop plays out over time.
Kids, on the other hand, are learning everything for the first time, they are not yet masters of anything. So failing, grappling, and trying again is all they know. As soon as adults become masters in any one field (such as their job, academic field, driving, whatever) they like that feeling and settle into it’s comfort. Sadly, this makes it much more difficult to learn other skills at the optimum rate.
The best (and happiest) adult climber is the one who learns to focus before being an adult, and doesn’t forget that failing repeatedly is normal.
26 July 2009
18 June 2009
It’s funny how quickly and readily fashions spread through climbing. Lycra, slang terms like ‘Send it dude!’ and...
In the eighties, when the French really were the kings of ‘French Style’ climbing, as sport climbing was then known, their ideal was to climb like a ballet dancer, with effortless panache in the movements, a totally straight face and not a sound coming from your lips.
Now, thanks to films such as the Dosage series, the fashion tends to be to slap your way up that granite boulder like a wild animal screaming at the top of your voice.
The obvious question is, which is best (for performance, not looking cool). The answer comes in two parts. Firstly, somewhere in between is best. Secondly, where you should be on the continuum between straight faced ballet dancer and screaming bull terrier depends largely on who you are.
Chris Sharma, being the most famous (and possibly loudest) exponent of the psyche scream has made screaming while climbing a talking point, and I’m sure, more fashionable. He does it, so it must be good, right? Well, listen to Chris talking off the rock, and you’ll see he is a pretty chilled out type of guy. When asked about his screaming, he says it helps him raise the necessary level of aggression to unleash his full power on the holds.
When I observe others taking up this deliberately aggressive climbing style, it sometimes has poor results - poor timing, overly basic movements, not much weight on the feet and inefficient use of energy on a route/problem.
What’s going on here? In a nutshell, for those who are inherently calm and make clear, calculated and efficient movement decisions in their climbing, some extra psyching up can help them get more out of their physical capability, but just on the hardest moves. In other words, in small doses.
For those who can very easily deliver a lot of focused aggression in their climbing, more psyching will yield little more power output but incur a big drop in efficiency of movement.
The great skill of climbing is to be able to switch from moment to moment between screaming to get maximum power on a very powerful, but technically basic move, and calm focus the next instant to perfectly aim for a tiny foot of handhold.
The climber that most influenced me was Fred Nicole with a quote (from memory of a magazine article) that “it’s not so much the level of strength but the timing of it” Fred went on to explain that the climber that could use is strength at the exactly correct moment would be the best.
11 June 2009
In my recent coachwise articles published in Scottish Mountaineer (and online here) I’ve talked a lot about the power of influences on your training, in terms of training choices, discipline, goal setting and level of effort.
My message here in a nutshell was that if you are surrounded by the psyched, the skilled and the hard working, you are more likely to be those things too.
Just listening to a section in Evan’s podcast about business (it’s episode 28th May if you want to download it from the Bottom Line site) reminded me not only of the strength of this effect, but also a good decision of the flip side - bad influences.
Evan’s guests were discussing positivity of attitude in general. The perspectives were generally that positivity is really good as an attribute and an influence. But problems raised were firstly that positivity must be bound by realism, and secondly that disappointments from failures can be hard to cope with sometimes.
Taking the realism thing first - This is where positivity coming from both inside yourself, and from outside sources is crucial to work within the bounds of reality. The kind of positivity that you see in talented youngsters spurred on by positive influences with a bias (friends and especially parents) often get ahead of themselves and later suffer big motivational setbacks following failures.
Positive outside influences with no bias are like gold dust. These sources tend to be encouraging by example, not just by positive reinforcement of you. They also solve the second problem of learning that it’s ok to fail, again and again, that it’s part of sporting or any success, and it’s possible to shrug it off and respond in the right way.
But talking of realism, I think it’s fair enough to say that negative influences will almost always outnumber positive for most people, in most communities. Of course the battle is to hold the negative at arms length where possible, and soak up as much of the positive as you can. But sometimes it can actually seem like an advantage to operate in relative isolation.
I have noticed, living away from a substantial city-based climbing scene for a couple of years, and absorbing most of my media through highly customizable (web based) sources, that I have more power to reach positive (if distant) influences in my climbing, while being insulated from the many negative influences out there. I think it’s been good for my climbing.
Evan’s guests talked about a major advantage for young business people was sometimes ignorance of all the hurdles ahead. There is some truth in this.
There is much to this subject - the influences we have from other people, our ability to exercise self control, our exposure and sensitivity to feedback of different kinds as we train for our sport. All are important and affect our ability to get the most out of ourselves.
Just a thought as I listed to Evan’s (excellent) podcast while painting some doors late at night...