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.


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