Friday, 30 March 2012

The Importance of Weakness in Climbing

I am inherently weak- I'm tall and lanky, with a roughly +6 inch ape index. My toes are so far away from my eyes I can barely see them and my arms often feel like they are satellites of my revoltingly skinny body. The shorter and chubbier chums of mine often give me abuse about my genetic advantages and tend to gloss over the issue that haunts many a tall person- being chronically weak. Massive leavers and an absence of muscle lead to naturally under-powered limbs, which is often thought to be a disadvantage. It is, but for learning technique it's a god send.

I've been climbing for nearly five years now and in that time I've never been able to lock off, campus more than two moves or generally do owt that requires the vaguest smidgen of strength. As a result I became a bit of a slab fiend and more recently one of those ungainly people on overhangs, who will try anything but actually pulling on the holds. Eventually though you have to pull and at properly steep places I got utterly trounced. Anyone who climbs E8 before V8 is seen as a bit odd these days I reckon.

Anyway, the technique learnt was almost worth being weak. More recently I have become (for me) properly strong. I can even burn off my German chum now, who is 5 foot 6' and outrageously 'kraeftig'.

In the grand scheme of things I am still weak though. This torments me. I haven't tied on for 6 months (appart from once to second a new HVS over winter) and have been bouldering three times a week since early feb. Not knowing anyone here, and more importantly no one here knowing me, has allowed me to totally immerse myself in my own training. I spent endless sessions falling off moves on 30 deg. overhangs that were likely in the font 6s. Being able to totally abandon your ego is very useful and perhaps the best part of emigrating.

The next step is to understand exactly how weak you are- conscious incompetence. After this is conscious competence and then after that hopefully unconscious competence. But I know I am crap now, which is really important. Contrary to the popular British belief, that there are a load of beasts here (boshing out font 8bs all over the place) the majority of people are even weaker than I am. What's different though is people's focussing on the moves; The difficulty of the moves, but not the grade. No boulder walls here have colours and grades; and people just make up their own thing (which is what I like the most).

I don't really know what this post is about, but generally just thinking about how incredibly weak I am in the grand scheme of things. The Mono wall still waits at Danby and I need to get a fair bit stronger to stand a chance. I'm pretty motivated and determined though. Weakness has served me well so far, now it is time for some Stength!


Sarah Clough said...

But it's not strength that matters in climbing though, but strength to weight ratio, no? No matter how strong someone is it's not much use if they have twice as much body weight to life. And inherently weak though you may be, you weigh about as much as a flea do your strength to weight ratio is in your favour...

Dave Warburton said...

Nah, he's been on the Cheese, Ham and bread of Europe. He'll be a right lardy bastard now.

Franco Cookson said...

When I refer to strength, I mean strength to weight ratio. The perfect test of strength to weight ratio is upper body and core feats of strength on the bouldering walls. At the moment I am completely weak. Hopefully this will change.