Before you shoe up for your onsight, lay some groundwork. WARM UP
Because you only have one chance, it’s easy to want to bone-crush every hold, either out of fear of falling or simply the unknown. But this extra energy expenditure can lead to an accumulation of lactic acid in the forearms: the dreaded flash pump. To combat this, warm up well, climbing a few known routes or routes well below your limit to relax your muscles and encourage unrestricted blood flow.
Consider your best style: If you’re a steeprock beast, then it may be easier to onsight that overhanging 5.12 face than the slabby 5.11 next to it. Typically, our upper onsight level is one number grade lower than our hardest redpoint, but any onsight up to this threshold can be challenging.
Consider that chalk, shoe rubber, and perma-draws often stack the odds in your favor, though on highly traveled routes, chalk covers every piece of rock, including sucker holds. On less popular routes, a layer of lichen or dust and a lack of foot traffic require a stronger ability to hang on and read the rock.
Now scope the route—stand away from the wall and get an overall sense of it. Take a gander from as many viewpoints as you can; you might even use binoculars. Figure out where the route goes and if you’ll need to traverse or downclimb. A short route will likely demand a fierce, athletic style, whereas a longer route will require patience and precision.
Next, identify big holds and slabby terrain, as these will be good for resting. Where the holds shrink and the terrain steepens will likely be the crux. Consider sequences and how the holds might affect your balance. If you see a left sidepull, is there a right-hand sidepull or heel hook
HEATHER WEIDNER GOING FOR THE ONSIGHT ON LOTTER’S DESIRE (5.12C), WATERFALL BOVEN, SOUTH AFRICA.