On the Wall


to op­pose it? Look also at chalk pat­terns. Of­ten, thumb prints will tell you which hand peo­ple take a hold with.

Prep work done, it’s now time to ex­e­cute. Get on the rock and give it a go! USE YOUR LEGS

Weight your feet and legs. This might mean find­ing a frog po­si­tion, heel hook, heel-toe cam, knee­bar, or stem. Ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent body po­si­tions at rests. Onsighting re­quires en­ergy con­ser­va­tion, so use tech­niques that de­crease the load borne by your arms to cre­ate a cu­mu­la­tive ben­e­fit.


If you feel like you need a high right foot to reach that next hold, look for one where you would want it to be. Of­ten, the rock is grip­pier than you think, and you might be able to use that tiny smear in­stead of that lower, more ob­vi­ous foot.


Camp out on good holds or stances to re- cover. Al­low your mus­cles and grip to re­lax, and let your skele­ton do the work. Sag pro­gres­sively in stages un­til your en­tire weight is on your frame. As you shake out, chalk up, breathe, and fo­cus your gaze on one point; you might even close your eyes to elim­i­nate wasted men­tal en­ergy—it’s tir­ing scan­ning the rock and en­vi­ron­ment. Ma­nip­u­late your breath by slowly in­hal­ing and ex­hal­ing un­til it be­comes in­audi­ble and your heart rate slows.

Take ad­van­tage of this new per­spec­tive to eval­u­ate the next sec­tion. Reach up to touch the holds, and then re­turn to the rest. This pro­vides a bet­ter idea of the holds’ qual­ity and how you’ll grab them. At a cer­tain point, it will be time to launch. As I’ve learned, it’s a fine line be­tween rest­ing just long enough ver­sus too long. For me, “just right” is when my res­pi­ra­tory and heart rates have de­creased sig­nif­i­cantly or even nor­mal­ized, and the fore­arm pump has dis­si­pated.

If stay­ing at a rest re­quires ex­ces­sive ef­fort, I’ll climb through the fa­tigue, hop­ing to re­cover else­where. To rest on the go, climb with mini-shakes be­tween holds. Watch videos of Michaela Kier­sch: She locks off with her hips close to the wall and shakes her free arm, pro­vid­ing a quick re­cov­ery. The one caveat is to be ei­ther fully straight-armed or fully locked off—any­thing in be­tween will be too stren­u­ous. Also, af­ter mak­ing clips, re­lax a lit­tle, ex­hale, and cop a quick shake.

Once you’re ready to leave a rest, in­crease your res­pi­ra­tory rate and al­low your fo­cus to shift with a soft gaze—to quickly scan hand­holds, feet, clips, and rope as needed. By be­ing aware, you’ll de­crease the chances of an un­safe fall and mit­i­gate fear so you can go for it.


Your plan from the ground might not feel right on the go, so know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. That “jug” might ac­tu­ally be a sucker sloper, so try a crimp next to it—to find the best holds, walk your fingers over the rock as if read­ing Braille. Also, when pos­si­ble, be will­ing to change se­quences. I like to plan so that I have down­climb­ing and/or re­se­quenc­ing op­tions. For in­stance, I rarely huck for a jug when there’s a crimp in­ter­me­di­ate that lets me climb stat­i­cally.

Fi­nally, be pre­cise and grab the holds with con­fi­dence. An­tic­i­pate the grip. You’ve held pinches, sidepulls, slop­ers, and crimps be­fore, so imag­ine these com­mon grips su­per­im­posed on the rock’s fea­tures. Try not to read­just your grip too much or gin­gerly grab holds— this wastes en­ergy. Watch videos of Adam On­dra and Lynn Hill onsighting. They grab holds con­fi­dently, as if they’ve touched them hun­dreds of times be­fore.


Par­tic­u­larly in the meat of a crux, never hes­i­tate. Some­times the en­ergy you ex­pend dither­ing or down­climb­ing will sap you so much you can’t re­cover. It’s of­ten best to keep mov­ing for­ward, even though the moves seem un­com­fort­able or too pow­er­ful. Big moves, es­pe­cially dynos to less-than-op­ti­mal holds, can be dif­fi­cult to re­verse. Ditto for moves with low feet or long reaches. Once you’ve com­mit­ted, elim­i­nate that voice in your head that says, “This is too hard,” and go for it. Af­ter all, you only get one chance.

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