It’s hard to say whether a training cycle was a “success” or not because there are so many factors to consider. If all I needed to do was get up, eat well and train for climbing, there would be a lot less grey area. In the real world we have shifting climbing seasons, crags and the subjective grading scale of rock routes. Basing 4 months of hard work on a few weeks of outside climbing performance seems like a slippery slope. The truth is, Robyn and I worked hard. We did all that we could to improve ourselves physically for the challenges of hard sport climbing and thus far have remained injury free. If that’s all we accomplish each season then I would categorize it as a success.
What’s nice about the Rock Climber’s Training Manual system we are following is that we can gauge our strength and training progress in a systematic way. Comparing our hangboard results, weight, training volume and workout schedule to previous seasons has added some insight into how our program will evolve. As we embark on our third training cycle I am already starting my hangboard intensity just below my personal max of the second season.
On rock progress is harder to quantify and may be better measured over a season or two worth of effort. Snapshots into the climbing season thus far though have been promising. In our latest performance cycle we spent the week in Ten Sleep Wyoming. Overall I climbed fewer 5.12 routes than I did in previous years but I came very close on a handful of 5.13 routes. I also felt that I was able to approach a 5.13 work the moves and have honest send-go attempts in a relatively few number of tries. This kind of strength and confidence was new this year, and I take that as a good sign. My two most notable ascents of this cycle were Pussytoes (5.12d) and Neutral Spirit (5.12d/5.13a). Pussytoes was a route I struggled with two years ago, but sent first go this season. A hard boulder problem to start is followed by long pulls between good pockets to the anchor. Neutral Spirit is a route I put some work into last year but felt that it was a bit out of my reach at the time. This year I sailed through the crux hanging the draws and fell in the pumpier section up high. After a bit of rehearsing I was able to send in relatively easy fashion. A lot of folks online give this 5.12d if you stay left at the crux mono. I didn’t understand that beta and favored the more direct line directly through the mono but wouldn’t argue with a 5.12d rating regardless. Cool route and a proud send!
So far the timing of our training seems to be spot on. Hangboarding this spring during the rain and now again in the hot and sticky middle american summer. By the time our bouldering and power phases are in full swing the temperatures should start to drop and fall sending weather will return again to Clear Creek Canyon. Robyn and I are going to swing for the fences this fall and pick real long-term projects to put our most successful training year yet to the test. I am aiming to sample some routes in the 5.13c/d range and see if there is one that is inspiring and also nearby some projects for Robyn. Ultimately when climbing failing and flailing at your limit you have got to keep the stoke. Sharing the projecting process with Robyn on an equally inspiring line will hopefully push us both to achieve our best efforts.