We made it! The next three weeks are officially the first performance peak phase of our cyclic training program for climbing! Hard to believe we have been at it for 3 months already but here we are – trained, psyched and ready to send! Training for climbing is tricky business. It seems that technique, power and endurance are the key traits to climbing well, but it’s impossible to focus on just one for too long or the others will suffer. This is the idea behind the program we are following at the moment. Wanna climb harder? Gotta get stronger. If all we wanted was to be better at bouldering (small unroped climbs) then we could strike endurance from the list and things would get much more straight forward. Since our preferred style of climbing is sport climbing (generally 80-100′ tall roped climbs) we need to incorporate endurance as well. And it turns out if all you do is strength train in the gym your technique on real rock declines quickly along with your endurance. So the trick to the cyclic training is to gain strength inside, transition to hard bouldering outside, then to short hard routes and eventually longer endurance routes. The idea is to take your added strength, add some endurance and voilà a performance peak is born. As with any peak, there is a downhill on the other side – your strength training wears off and your endurance takes its place. Once back down in the valley, you rest your climbing muscles for a couple weeks go fishing, hiking or easy cragging and then start over again.. climbing toward another peak. In our case, we timed our next performance peak for our annual week long climbing trip to Ten Sleep Canyon in Wyoming.
So, does it work? Well, so far so good. The first time through this program we knew we would learn a lot about how our bodies would respond. We have a long list of improvements to make for our summer season but for an “out of the box” training program I am certainly pleased. My ability to hold on to small holds has certainly increased, and as we enter the performance phase I am noticing a better ability to rest and fight the pump of longer routes. My endurance isn’t quite back to where I want it yet, but close! Over the weekend Robyn and I worked some hard technical routes. On Saturday I was able to put down Ten Digit Dialing (5.12c) and Y2K (5.12c). Ten Digit Dialing was a goal route for me this year because of its beauty and significance to our home crag in Clear Creek Canyon. After a couple tries two weeks ago I sent it first go on Saturday and it felt great! With less expectations heading into Sunday, we checkout out a small crag near Primo Wall. Robyn made some awesome progress and long links on a route called Mildage (5.11d). This route will come down to some key foot placements for her and she made quick work of the technical sequences before and after the crux. I got on a route called Inner Gorilla (5.12d) on the same wall, and ended up snagging the send on my second attempt. What a crazy route! This arete is overhanging and technical with a couple big moves. It sure didn’t feel locked up until I clipped the chains. Although short, it was a battle for sure and marked my hardest send of the season.
We are back to Shelf Road this weekend for more of our favorite Colorado desert limestone. Robyn has her eyes set on The Raw and the Roasted (5.11c) and I am hoping to clean up My Generation (5.12d) and then pick another project before things heat up down there this summer.