A Few Lessons Rope Climbing Taught Me

While climbing in Rodellar (Spain) for a little more than a week, I got reminded of a few essential things:

Mental endurance is even more important than physical endurance
Honestly, I probably forgot what real physical endurance feels like. Yet whenever I feel like my endurance is not as bad as it might be, I realize that I also need the right attitude in my head to get the most out of it. I truly need to persuade myself to give a route another go since I know it’s gonna be a battle and I’ll need the right mindset to fight all the way through. It’s not always easy to push away the doubts, thinking about that same move I fell on before and wondering if I’m going to fail again. If you have the willpower to fight until the very end, no matter how shitty your body might feel, how close you were to falling on the move before or how far above the last quickdraw you are, I believe physical endurance comes second.

Patience is the key to succes
Whether it’s about shaking out a little longer or waiting 10 minutes more before giving it another try; I’m usally too impatient to make the best out of my efforts. I get bored while shaking out or I want to try other things on the same day and not spend the whole day resting under the same route. However, I had to learn that taking that extra rest is what often makes the difference. To give good tries, your body has to be recovered and forcing it into recovery usually doesn’t work very well.

Victory tastes sweeter if you had to fight for it
Of course it feels great to flash or even onsight something hard. However, my first thought is usually something like: „Oh I guess this is an easy one for the grade“ or „It must have just suited me well“. It’s nothing compared to the satisfaction I feel when I complete something I’ve tried over several sessions, weeks or even years. Especially with routes or boulders I think of as my anti style, it feels nice to prove myself I can do them anyway and even improve as a climber during the whole process. The harder I had to work for it, the better it feels afterwards.

With all that in mind, I managed to send my project Rebelión en la granja (8a) on one of our last days. It’s only about 15 meters long with bouldery moves from bottom to top. Most people get a knee bar right before the crux but I just couldn’t fit my leg in there, so it was a real power endurance testpiece for me. After struggling with clipping on the first few tries, I realized I had to skip a quickdraw or I wouldn’t even get close to sending. That scared me a bit at first since the cave isn’t very high but after taking one or two big falls I knew I’d be okay. I could only give it 2-3 good tries per day before feeling completely empty. After a while I got a little frustrated because I also wanted to try other routes (there are so many and all of them look amazing!) but the ambitious part of me couldn’t leave this project unfinished. On Remo’s birthday, we were both successful first try of the day and also he could finish his project El salto del Ángel (8b+).


P.S. To make sure the same doesn’t happen to many other climbers: If you travel by plane, don’t put your rope and quickdraws in your hand luggage, we got held up at the airport in Barcelona and almost missed our flight! Although it was okay on the way there from Zurich, there was not even room for discussion and we had to check it in and pay an extra fee on the way home.

This past weekend I took part in the Swiss Cup in Saxon, my only lead competition of the season. After a week of sport climbing in Spain, my expectations were probably a little higher than usual when it comes to lead comps. Although the second qualification route didn’t go too bad, I totally screwed up the first one, which got me placed 7th and therefore out of finals (the maximum number of finalists is 6 in Switzerland). I’m a little disappointed but on the other hand I realized once more that I find lead competitions quite stressful and simply don’t enjoy them very much. It’s the complete opposite of how I feel about climbing outside right now, where I’m just as psyched to clip some draws than stumbling around with a crashpad. First of all however, I can’t wait to compete at adidasROCKSTARS this weekend. From all I’ve seen and heard, it’s most likely the coolest event of the year and I’m super happy to be part of it! :)

Photo: David Schweizer