Not everyone knows a climbing or bouldering mentor. Therefore we have collected the most important tips from good climbers.
When I started climbing, I didn’t slip into a clique of strong climbers, some of whom had been climbing for years and were very ambitious, but i was more or less alone. So I wasn’t able to enjoy an informal “climbing coaching”. Instead I booked a coach, and got tips on technique, tactics and training for climbing – and got direct feedback when I messed up. Of course, it’s not enough to just follow tips – a lot of climbing, a lot of trying, a lot of willpower and above all fun are also part of improving yourself. You can do the same if you have friends who are strong climbers or climb in a group of good climbers. This guide applies to bouldering as much as to climbing.
What did I learn and how?
There are no “magic secrets” that you only need to know and then it flops. No, it is perhaps rather the mental support and the trust placed in you that you can climb this or that, which helps a lot. Most of the time I looked at one of my strong climbing coaches with disbelief when he told me: “Why don’t you just try it? You can climb this!” That wasn’t always true, of course. But more often than I would have thought it was. And if it didn’t work out, I still learned important things: for example, where my weaknesses were and that I can work on them.
In the meantime I know that not every piece of advice applies equally well to every type of person. That’s why the climbing tips below are not equally important for everyone: it’s about analysing yourself as if you wanted to coach yourself. If you observe yourself critically, you can probably already give yourself good tips: Then it is only a matter of motivating yourself and putting them into practice.
1) Find a good climbing partner
It makes a big difference whether your rope partner (or rope partner, of course) motivates you, has similar time and goals as you do or not. A good partner motivates you, is reliable, is on the same wavelength as you, has complementary strengths and weaknesses (to learn from each other) – and you have a lot of fun together.
2) Warming up and warming down
It’s nothing new, but it really helps: Warming up and warming down does the trick. Firstly, you avoid injuries, secondly, warming up prepares the muscles better for performance – warm muscles work better. It’s similar with warming up: light movements at the end promote regeneration and help to avoid sore muscles.
3) Use sensible equipment and know how to use it
Special equipment does not make a specialist – but without the right equipment climbing does not work either. Above all, you should make sure that the safety-relevant equipment fits and is not already twenty years old. In other words: climbing harness, climbing rope, belay device and express slings should be up-to-date and well maintained. In addition, you should be able to use them all safely.
4) Setting and pursuing realistic goals
Many climbers dream of climbing really hard once. But in order to master the next level, you should set yourself realistic goals, for example to climb more routes, to try more onsight, or to try more difficult routes at all. Because if you want to climb harder, then you have to try harder routes regularly and have a fighting spirit.
5) Be informed
It is worth asking or researching, especially if you are climbing in unknown areas or if you have new climbing partners: Is a helmet advisable? Who brings the rope? Do I need wedges for routes up to 6b? Are there routes up to 6b? How do I get down from the mountain again? It is often helpful to read the Topo Guide thoroughly before setting off.
Especially on days off you might not feel like pulling yourself together and concentrating. But if you have ever messed up a climb because your shoes weren’t closed or your chalk bag wasn’t open – you know what I’m talking about. Often full concentration helps to control the body.
7) Attention to detail
Do I have to clip first or later before the bad side grip? Is the right foot first on the higher step or the left? Do I have to stand frontally or turned in? Did I aim at the target grip or squint at the hook? Details are important when climbing. Well, at least good climbers pay attention to small details and can get a lot out of it with targeted “fine tuning”.
8) Breathing and shaking
You have to run through some routes. But in 90 percent of all cases it is worth shaking at obvious resting points . in such a position you can rest without having to hold on with one or both hands. Breathing should actually be automatic, but during physical activity, breathing can sometimes accelerate automatically. If you intervene and slow down your breathing, you can also soothe the general physical agitation. Breathing and shaking sounds like rather esoteric tips, but if you follow them more often, you will appreciate their benefits.
9) Don’t forget to eat and drink
Whether you absolutely must have had an egg for breakfast is questionable – but it certainly doesn’t hurt! If you don’t eat enough or too much at once, you shouldn’t be surprised if your muscles don’t perform and your concentration drops. Also enough liquid in the body helps when climbing. Recommended: A mixture of dietary fibres (vegetables or fruit), carbohydrates (for example bread) and protein (legumes, dairy products). Regular drinking is important, preferably mineral water or juice spritzers.
10) Have fun!
Having fun is part of it. Alex Lowe said it: “The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun.” If you’re stressed or under pressure, I guarantee you won’t climb any better. Besides: We climb because it’s fun! There you go.
If you liked this article, have a look at some of my other articles. Maybe you’re about to start climbing and need some good and cheap climbing or bouldering shoes, well I tested them, and these are the top climbing shoes for 2020. Or you need some advice on how to prepare for bouldering and climbing, read more here.
Feel free to leave me a comment; I’m always happy to get some feedback!