Welcome to the 2017/2018 Training Issue.
I LEARNED TO CLIMB in the era before rock gyms. Back then, if you wanted to get better, you climbed. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I grew up, you got stronger either by toproping or by bouldering on the basalt bluffs of the West Mesa and the sharp granite boulders of the Sandia foothills. When the weather was bad, you lifted weights.
Then, in 1988, the Albuquerque Rock Gym opened; around this time, hangboards were first mass-produced. I mounted the original Metolius Simulator in my garage, attached the bungee cords, and started cranking. On cold winter nights, I’d make my father hold the stopwatch for me until he’d had enough and went back inside. I got stronger.
Back then, we lived in the dark ages of training. Free climbing in America had arisen from countercultural roots, and training often felt too formal, too rigid, too like the organized sports many of us had fled. And so climbers avoided it, or did it haphazardly or in secret. Mostly, we just climbed. Then came the rise of pro climbing, comps, and the first real training book: Dale Goddard and Udo Neumann’s
Performance Rock Climbing (1993). Suddenly it was OK to train, and climbers began to improve. While I still climb more than I train, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of specialized training— for example, the daily core exercises that have helped with body tension, the yoga that’s helped with flexibility, and the hangboarding that’s tuned up my fingers. Our collective understanding of training has evolved light years since the days in my dad’s garage. Today’s super-climbers like Adam Ondra, Alex Megos, Kai Lightner, Ashima Shiraishi, and others are living proof that putting in your time on plastic and with weights and boards, etc. works. Hell, even a natural-born climber like Chris Sharma is doing drills in the gym with the Basque coach Patxi Usobiaga.
In recognition of this evolution, we’re excited to present the 2017/2018 Training Issue. In its pages, you’ll find much to sink your fingers into: a Clinic from professional climber Jonathan Siegrist on knowing when in your career to train (page 41) and one from our instructor for the AIM Adventure U course Intro to Sport Climbing, Heather Weidner, on pro-level redpoint tips (page 42); a customizable gym workout from Climbing’s upcoming book Climb to Fitness (page 44); and mini-profiles of today’s top young climbers, many of them gym-bred, poised to take us to 5.16 (page 50).
I just mounted a new wooden hangboard in my garage. Maybe, in a turn of play, I’ll have my boys hold the stopwatch and time me. Or maybe I’ll be out there in a few years, holding the stopwatch for them, thinking about how far we’ve all come.
THE LATE KYLE DEMPSTER AND ANNIE TRUJILLO AT THE FRONT, SLC, UTAH.