Sunday, 23 October 2011

Strength or fitness - which is most important

Douggie on the start of Poema de Roca

This time last year i was getting ready to go to Kalymnos. I had spent literally hours of my life going round and round in cir
cles doing circuits on a Bendcrete board at Cockermouth and getting to Kendal wall as much as i could. The result was a 7a+ of a long, steep route in the Grande Grotte that i was really chuffed with.

This year before coming to Spain i bouldered almost exclusively with a few trips to Penrith wall - all of 8 metres high. The result was a 7A+ that i was really chuffed with.

I wasn't expecting to have any fitness at all when i got here and when i first went out that was the case. More than anything i was scared to death above a bolt and still in bouldering mode. I was grabbing every hold as hard as i could, through fear and my body being so used to grabbing everything 100%. Un-surprisingly i was pumping out very quickly and sitting on a lot of bolts.

Fast forward a couple of months and i have just climbed Poema de Roca.

Neil on the rest just before the crux

It's route that relies on economic climbing and recovery en-route, with 3 hands off rests and 2 partial shakes. It's notoriously pumpy and i was saving it for an on-sight attempt at the end of the year. Circumstances ended up with me standing at the bottom of it yesterday and giving it a go 2 months early. I wasn't too shocked to find myself dangling off the rope at the 4th bolt on my first go. I was quite shocked to completely cruise it 2nd go. I got to the top feeling fresh and it went like clockwork.

I was pondering what had improved so much to make it go so well. I've come to the conclusion it was a combination of being stronger and lots of volume. The amount of easy climbing i've done in the last couple of months has been greater in total than the last 2 years. I am reading routes well, spotting cruxes and sequences and, most importantly, i now have the move 'library' and strength to pull the moves off.

I think strength endurance, or fitness, is the icing on the cake. Volume of easy climbing and bouldering strength and know how seem to be the most important factors for me anyway.

I am going to carry on with the volume, with on-sighting as a priority, until Xmas and then i am going to redpoint the next few months with an idea of hitting 7b+ ( maybe 7c ) by April ish.

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