So you have booked your perfect climbing trip and you’re psyched! You have trained relentlessly at the climbing gym in preparation for it, ready to battle it out on a project, hoping to tick that dream line or attain a new grade. Alternatively your goal could be to get quick ticks, sending a number of routes in just a few sessions. Whatever your motivation, here are five useful tips for faster, more efficient red pointing when you have limited time.
1. Do Some Mileage First
When you get to a new climbing area, it’s a good idea to dedicate your first couple of days to getting in lots of mileage, particularly if it’s a rock type you don’t have much experience with. No two crags are the same so get to
know each ones little quirks and nuances. Learn which features have holds and which ones don’t, get a feel for the friction of the rock and how the holds feel. Set about dropping your grade and go on-sighting* or doing routes in 2 or 3 tries. It’s a huge shame when people go to a new place and spend the entire time just trying their chosen project and nothing else. Focus on having fun and explore, enjoy just climbing lots of routes and go after the the lower grade classics. Not only will you learn about the areas climbing style, but you will also be getting an extra boost in fitness.
2. Pick the right route
It may be obvious, but if you want to climb a new grade, its going to be easier to do so on a route that suits your style. For example if you excel on long pitches that require lots of endurance, then perhaps jumping on a route that is short and bouldery may not be the best option. By picking the right route will put you at an advantage before you even begin the red point process. I personally like to have a look through the guidebook and make a list of the routes I’m interested in spending some time on and giving each of them them a go. Sometimes you will find that certain routes feel much more doable than others and you can get an idea of how much work each one is going to take. However it’s important that the line you choose to invest your time into is one that inspires you, this way you’ll be much more motivated to spend time on a route you’re psyched on and enjoy climbing.
3. Do Your Homework
Be clever about working the route as you have limited time to get it done. In the first couple of sessions you should invest a lot of time into sussing out the moves, the clipping positions and the resting points. First of all, you should break the route down into sections as this will make the working process a whole lot less daunting, mentally it seems far more achievable to climb 3 sections of 10 meters, rather than a whole 30m pitch! I like to split a route up into sections between good holds or rests, that way when it comes to trying to send it, I know exactly where I need to get to in order to recover. So even if I’m really pumped all I have to do is grit my teeth and give 100% because I know there is an easier section coming up.
Secondly, spending time figuring out a sequence that works for you is vitally important, particularly if you are working the route with other people, as its easy to get sucked into the same beta. Sometimes spending an extra few minutes using different footholds, looking for intermediate hand holds or even on occasions skipping moves can make a sequence feel easier.
That way you are using less effort and saving your energy for the rest of the climb. Something I see people overlooking a lot but can make a huge difference between success and failure is clipping positions. When your on the route for the first couple of times, really take notice of how it feels to clip the quickdraws. For example, are you having to lock off and stretch to clip, using up precious energy? Perhaps extending the draw will allow you to clip from a more efficient, straight armed position. Alternatively climbing slightly past the draw and clipping it low could allow you to do so from a better hold, or in extreme cases skipping a clip all together because its in such a bad position can make all the difference.
Finally make sure to find all the rest positions, however this doesn’t just have to be huge jugs on which you can fully shake out and recover. Look for places to get ‘micro rests’, perhaps where you can only chalk up and have a quick flick of the arms in between moves. If you find a particular move strenuous, try to find somewhere beforehand where you can have a small shake of the arm that gets most fatigued, there are times where doing so in between a hand movement can give you that little bit more juice for the move. Also keep an eye out for tricks in which you can take some weight off your arms, is there a knee bar, a heel hook or a drop knee that you could use?
4. Link From The Top Down
Once you feel like you have figured out everything on the route, it’s time to start putting some links together. As you begin to get a feel for the route, think about where you are getting pumped, how you feel entering and exiting the crux, as well as how long you need to spend at the rests in order to get the optimal amount of recovery. The best way to do so is to start from the top and work your way down, ending with the big link form the ground to the anchor! This means that you spend the most time climbing the top sections of the route, dialing it in and getting to know it inside out. Doing so is extremely helpful for when you get through the crux and are gunning it towards the anchor. You will automatically know what to do, enabling you to climb as fast and efficiently as possible and not have to think so much as your arms are beginning to get pumped.
If you have to, use chalk to make some tick marks* for difficult to see holds or for helping you remember complicated sequences but always make sure to brush them off when you’re finished. The Psychi Rock Powder and Boar Hair Brush are perfect for this. The last thing you want to do is blow it right below the chains because you were unsure of what to do.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Change It Up
A lot of us are guilty of getting sucked into the first beta that works for us, however doing a sequence after resting on the rope can be a whole different story when attempting it from the ground. If you find yourself repeatedly falling at a particular section of the climb, rather than trying over and over again in the hope that eventually you will stick it, stop and spend a little bit more time making sure there isn’t another way of climbing it. Fairly often you will find a sneaky foothold that doesn’t get used, putting you in a better body position or a small intermediate hold that allows you to get the next one more easily. This could be the difference between trying the route a bunch more times or sending it next go!