The most frequent questions we get asked here at ClimbNorthEast are usually the simple ones.
What’s the best type of chalk to use? Am I using the right shoes for the job? Is there a right way to test a crag? Of course, all of these can be boiled down to one simple query:
How can I get more from my climbs?
The interesting thing about the climbing scene here in the UK, is that it largely relies upon shared knowledge and experience.
Although we might well take some lessons early on in our lives, either in school or at a weekend club, the way us climbers learn is usually by doing. With each session on an indoor climbing wall, we slowly start to accumulate the necessary tricks of the trade that will allow us to reach for the hard to reach handholds and pinion us to the necessary walls. These are skills that are built on hard graft and practice, rather than theoretical learning, meaning that we need to spend hours on walls in order to make progress on the actual rock.
Taking the time to develop and hone the myriad micro-skills involved in climbing requires focus, requiring you to have the humility to identify your own weaknesses and the ingenuity to find a way to eradicate them.
This is just one of the many ways that you can learn to get more from your climbs.
Here are a few more to help you on your way:
Preparation, preparation, preparation
Climbers are often portrayed as fastidious people. Careful and cautious, they understand they usually understand the importance of planning and preparation. Then again, you can’t always believe everything that you read online…
It sounds like teaching your Grandma how to suck eggs, but it’s worth stating just to get the message out there. You can never plan enough for a day’s climb.
Everything from the route that you take to drive there to your packed lunch can be organised well ahead of schedule – the more that you have planned, the smoother your day will go and the more thought you can dedicate to the climbs that you embark on.
Test your gear have no fears
Well – ‘no fears’ is probably a bit of an exaggeration. Still, one of the reasons behind even the most experienced climbers’ sudden lack of confidence is usually a mistrust in their gear.
We spend hundreds of pounds on our climbing gear, but unless we thoroughly test it there will always be a niggling doubt in the back of our minds that it might not be able to hold our weight. Building trust with our gear is as important as building trust with our friends.
Make sure that you take the time to give all your gear a thorough test in the days leading up to your climb. Ropes, harnesses, helmets and carabiners should all be tugged, pulled and stressed so that you have 100% confidence in them when it comes to finally use them.
It’s not a team game but it kind of is
Even on their biggest free solo climbs, the greats like Steve McClure and Alain Robert have a support team with them to make sure that, should anything go wrong, they have assistance if they need it.
Although most climbers are taught this at an early age, it’s worth repeating just in case there’s someone who didn’t get the message: unless you are actually Alex Honnold, you should never climb alone.
Climbing in a group is one of the best ways to balance safety with practicality.