Though time constraints have keep me out of the climbing gym for the last two years, I still follow the sport of climbing closely (in fact, one of the most popular articles on this website is about climber Alex Honnold). With my son now just a hair over two years old, and very interested in climbing all over the apartment, it might be time to return to the gym. Albeit as a spotter more than a climber.
Check out my page of climbing resources here.
I’ll admit it, I’ve got some hometown pride associated with the success of Ashima Shiraishi. She’s a New York kid, she climbs regularly at my gym, and she rules. In fact, just this week I saw Ashima crushing it at Brooklyn Boulders. She’s gotten so much taller in the last year, and her climbing continues to impress. I wonder, how much more can so do? How much better will she get? Its going to be very interesting to see how this generation of kid climbing phenoms develops.
Ran a little, biked a little, climbed a little. Enjoyed myself for the first time in months. Sore as hell from my return to climbing and body weight training — which is nice. Looking forward to doing a little more of each in the coming week. I’m a sucker for the feeling of a sore muscle. Its the feeling of getting somewhere.
||8.5 in 1:20:10
||18 in 1:32:49
|Strength and Flexibility:
|Total Exercise Time:
Speaking of skinny dudes, check out this amazing video of Adam Ondra* climbing two different V16 routes:
For those keeping track at home, Ondra is 5′ 11″, weighs a whooping 128 pounds and is all of twenty years old. As is obvious from this video, he is among the best climbers in the world. What he is does shares about as much similarity with what I do as playoff baseball shares with a summer softball league.* These routes are all but impossible for mere mortals. Look at the holds on the second problem, Gioia, they’re like razor blades.
Insane, but inspiring.
To see someone as good as Ondra struggle and fight to send a problem shows us that no matter how good you get, it never gets easy. I’ll keep that, and Ondra’s tenacity, in mind when I’m working the v3s this weekend.
Yesterday, I ran. But only three miles. No real pain and no need to rush things. After that, I spent about forty five minutes on push-ups, pull-ups, handstands, stretches and balance drills. it was low key, and it was fun.
Last night was exactly the kind of thing I’m interested in right now. Long term, I’m not sure where my exercise is going, but all the things I’m interested in (i.e. running, cycling, rock climbing, mountaineering, etc.) reward the thin. I’m never going to be Dave Graham, or Ryan Hall, but I could always stand to lose a couple of pounds.
Dave Graham, 5′ 9″; 137ish; crushing some problem
Ryan Hall; 5’10”; 130ish, killing it at the USA marathon trials
Me; 6′; 175ish pushing a kid in a giant plastic tube
Currently, I’m weighing in at 175, which is about where I’ve been for the past year. I’d like to see what it feels like to be about ten pounds lighter. So while I am on this find myself reexamination of my working out life, I’m going to actually watch what I eat for the first time, half-heartedly track calories, and see if I can slim down a little. I’m not going to go on a diet, but I am going to try and be smarter about what I put in my mouth — cut down on the carbs and beer, and re-up on the greens and water. I’ll update my weight in the weekly training totals going forward because I know there is absolutely nothing you care more about than how much I weigh. Lets see what kind of results I can produce.
I’ve resigned myself to never being very good at rock climbing. I’m too old, too fat, and have too little time to devote to the sport to ever climb at a high level. But that’s ok, I still love it.
With my schedule, I’m lucky if I can get to the climbing gym once a week (and I almost never climb outside). When I do get to the gym, I can climb the v2s with ease, and occasionally struggle up a V3 if its power route. Technique and finger strength are still my weaknesses. I’m relatively strong and can power my way through an overhang problem, but if it is a crimpy thing with no feet? I’m fucked. Finger strength and technique come from time on the wall, and that is something I just cannot commit to. Too many interests; not enough time.
Still, I do what I can. My general routine at the gym is to stretch out my sore shoulder,s warm up on some V0s and V1s, work on V2s and V3s until my grip strength starts going, then blow out what little strength I have left on the training wall doing dead hangs, ring pushups and the like. Away from the climbing gym, I do what I can. I’m trying to drop weight. I work the pull up bar in my building’s gym three times a week, and I am desperately attempting to become more flexible.
Its an uphill battle, and one I am bound to lose. Still, I enjoy the fight. And I enjoy my time at the gym, hanging with old friends, talking about life, watching kids flash V10s while I struggle on the V3s. I’m never going to be Chris Sharma, but that’s alright. I’m fine being a not very good middle age climber. As long as I’m better at it than I was last year, that’s good enough for me.
Last weekend I went climbing with my young niece. She took to it immediately. With little fear, a lot determination, and weighing next to nothing, she did wonderfully. There were times at the beginning when she got nervous – when five feet off the ground she asked me to lower her down. But as the morning wore on, she got higher and higher, and more and more confident. She kept at it, she got better and I think I had more fun watching her scamper up the holds than I do when I am climbing myself.
My niece and I at the climbing gym.
Being in the gym with a child brought home that climbing is, at base, pure play. Like all play, it can teach us things about ourselves without our even knowing it. Sure we adults focus on ratings, hand strength, and how long we can hold a dead hang on the finger board. But all of that is just an extension of the play. We work the finger board, or watch what we eat, to make the act of climbing more fun. To solve harder problems, to increase stamina, all so we can play more.
By working at the play, we learn things about ourselves. My niece may not have realized it, but she was learning that to get good, you need to put in the time. That because you failed on the previous attempt does not mean you will fail again. That while the wall is high, you make it to the top one hold at a time.
Her first send!
These are the lessons that play and sport teach us. Are they corny? Perhaps. But I often need to be reminded of them and the lessons go down easy when they are learned messing around in a climbing gym.
Speaking of working at play, here’s a video of some kids killing it at a bouldering competition.
Last weekend was my first time at the climbing gym in well over a month. I was a little rusty, but happy to discover that I hadn’t lost all my fitness. I’ll be back there on Sunday, slowly working my way back up to the level I was at this fall. I’m involved in a lot of different physical pursuits, but climbing is perhaps the one that is the most pure fun for me.
Running can feel like work, push ups can feel like work, but climbing always feels like play.
This week, I found two interesting videos, one of Daniel Woods failing to complete a boulder problem at the unified bouldering championships in 2010, and one of Chris Sharma completing the same problem. Fascinating to watch these two incredible climbers tackle the same problem. Pay special attention to Woods incredible save. That he can hold onto that sloper blows my mind. I’ll never be that good – but that doesn’t mean I can’t be better than I currently am.
Between work, the High Holidays, and other sundry tasks, I haven’t made it to Brooklyn Boulders in almost two weeks. Not good. I’m going to fix that this weekend with a session on Sunday. I can’t wait. Here’s a video of a bunch of great climbers working inside, including two New Yorkers – Ashima Shirashi (who is a member of my gym and at eleven years old is better than I will ever be) and Sasha DiGiulian (who recently started at Columbia University).