7 May 2010

Repoint tactics: pacing

Finding the most efficient pace in repointing is huge area and isn’t as simple as climbers might hope. The basics of pacing are that it’s a good idea to climb fast; as fast as possible without sacrificing accuracy. But even this isn’t so simple as occasionally on steep burly climbs with big positive holds, it can be better to err more on the side of speed even if accuracy is sacrificed a little bit.
Climbing fast comes from being good at climbing. And being good at climbing comes from having a lot of routes under your belt. So if you realise you are climbing too slowly on a redpoint, but can’t seem to go faster without making mistakes, there’s no shortcut unfortunately - if you clock up more routes, you’ll slowly be able to make movement decisions quicker. The only short term fix for the route you are trying right now is to learn the moves better. A lot of the time there is some mileage to be gained out of this. The technique is two-fold: First it’s to have a clear separation between ‘working’ mode and ‘linking’ mode. Often, climbers are too busy trying to make better links and forget to remember all the little movement tweaks they are learning. So progress is much slower than it needs to be. Stop linking for a bit, and just do shorter sections or single moves until you are super slick before moving on.
Apart from overall climbing speed, the amount of resting during the climb is a big variable that could make the difference between success and failure. The main point of this post is that the correct amount of stopping/resting time depends on the character of the climb as much as the length or number of moves. 
Here is a video of yesterday’e efforts of mine on a long project (estimated grade V14). It’s about V12 to just before my failure point and the next few moves are the crux, so I need to have plenty left in the tank to make any more progress.

You can see this is an all out sprint with no rests. But I’m climbing for nearly two minutes straight on very steep ground. 120 seconds for just over 30 hand moves. The climbing is pretty technical and there is a lot of footwork to be done for every hand move. It contrasts with a 9a I did in spain a while back which is 30 moves in 30 seconds. Massive difference. On the 9a, the correct strategy (after much trial and error) was to go as fast as possible. I skipped clips, didn’t chalk up once - just continuous sprinting to get to the end before the anaerobic system started to falter.
On other projects I’ve tried for a long enough time, I’ve experienced through trial and error that many different strategies for resting worked - sometimes stopping only enough to chalk up, sometimes 30 seconds, sometimes longer. In general, the trend has been that resting less has been better.
However, On this cave project, I’ve just realised that my previous strategy of no rest might not be the best. I started with this strategy partly because there’s no obvious place to rest, and partly because its only 35 moves to the crux. But once the climbing time starts to creep above 60-90 seconds, the need to stop and rest, at least briefly becomes more and more important. It’s a moving target though depending on the nature of the climbing. 
Last thing in the session (after this attempt I lay down and slept for half an hour!!) I worked out a rather unreasonable rest from two toe hooks just at the point I fell. My plan is to get the climbing time to here down 25% to 90 seconds, and rest for about 2 chalk-ups each hand. Ill let you know how it goes…
Summary: experiment with different resting times and pacing on your redpoints, the character of the individual climb often confounds expectations.


JF said...

Thought-provoking as always Dave. That cave looks quite rad. The rock and style look almost exactly like some beach rock we have here (Oregon, USA.) Wish ours was that overhanging, though :)


markmcgowan01 said...

"" It’s a moving target though depending on the nature of the climbing"

absolutely agree. that's what makes climbing so great! good read Dave