I climb 4 times a week. Usually in winter time I spend more time in climbing center on plastic and there are always many people. We become good friends, we joke, train and talk a lot about climbing. And in many cases we have different approach to training or climbing. But not only that. A lot of times you see people who think they are climbing as hard as they can but you know their limit is much higher.
Big majority of climbers don’t have a clue how hard they can climb. There is so many different routes and the key is to find the right one for you, that suits your style perfectly – to climb at your hardest.
Let me tell you a short story of my own.
I first tried to climb in 2012 and it was a lot of fun. I think my first route was 4b on top rope. I managed to top it and it was great. I started climbing a bit after that so I climbed my first 6a in three months, but than I had an injury that stopped my climbing for two years. I actually fell for 11m and broke my ankle three times, but more about that some other time.
So two years later I met up with my friends, and we started talking about climbing. I said that I want to climb 7a in a year. The friend who introduced me to climbing two years ago immediately jumped and said that this is not possible since my current grade was 5b. I didn’t agree and the bet was on. We bet, that in one year I will climb 7a on the rock for a pizza. 🙂 That was in May 2015.
Now, more interesting part.
I started training, and in two months I did my project graded 5c. I was really happy about it. Next month I did my first 6a after several tries, and I got myself first coach Luka (very successful alpinist), who wrote me a plan that puted me on the right path. I believe in four months after the bet, in August, I did my first 6b (picture below)! That was huge for me! For example, when I climbed 6b I still had some problems with some 5c and so. Than my progress stopped a bit.
In September I went on a course about strength and endurance in climbing and got myself another coach – Dave. He is an 8b+ climber and he has a lot experiences in training others. He wrote me a custom made training plan based on my strengths and weaknesses. For the next three months I was training four times a week and it was hard. And even though I got ill in the process and was at home for three weeks in between, I managed to climb my first 6c on the last day of 2015.
Next few months were also hard, this time beause I injured myself and was not able to climb for more than two months. But I put my self together and in April, I climbed my first 6c+ route on the rock. That day I was climbing with my friend Urška and she knew that I was looking for suitable 7a to climb. She suggested to me Krokodilčki v očeh in Bitnje. I went there few days later with my other friend Noora (Fin), and by the end of the day I managed to clip my first 7a ever on the rock. That magical grade at that time and also a bet for pizza was achieved. 😀
When I did 7a, it was only 21 of april, but now I started thinking about higher grades, that seemed really unreal for me even a week ago. I went to my coach Dave and we talked about it. He recommended me new project of 7b. It’s called Zlata streha in Kotečnik Slovenia (in video below).
As you can see this is great looking piece of a route. It’s overhang, powerful style with no hands rest in the middle. And that really suits my style. So in August 12. I went there with a friend Tadeja and did the route in 5th try/3rd visit. It was amazing.
And now the point of all this!
If you look carefully, you may say I was much too weak to climb 7b route. But I guess if you find the right route that suits you, if you are motivated enough and if you believe in yourself you are able to climb harder than you think.
This is very good for your mental game as well. The grade 7b doesn’t seems so hard any more. Neither 7a, 6c or 6b+ which was still hard for me at that time.
The point of this article is to think outside the box if you want to improve and you will enjoy in your climbing even more. I realize not everybody will agree with this article, since many say you are not a real 7b climber if you don’t climb several of them. Or some may say you should climb diferent styles or be able to climb it on sight or whatever. There is plenty of such “rules” in climbing community but to me, if you climb one 7b you are 7b climber, if you climb one 8c you are 8c climber and if you climb one 9b+ you are 9b+ climber. 🙂
Go to the crag and experiment with your ability. Not every route suits you but if you are trying to lift your red point climbing, this article may be a good help.