My name is Pete Takeda. I’m a writer and climber of rock, ice, big mountains, and the walls of EVO Rock + Fitness. Throughout my climbing career, I’ve come in and out of obsessions with every facet of climbing, from sketchy aid walls to indoor comps to 7000-meter peaks. This month, however, I’m consumed with training.
Climb for long enough, and there comes a time when you must train.
But wait. This is painfully obvious, you say. Let me clarify: I’m not talking about a recreational 90-minute run through a few warm ups followed by a few limp redpoint burns on that letter-grade-harder-than-I’ve-previously-sent project version of “training.” I’m talking about the deliberate, consistent, systematized approach to getting stronger, fitter and more flexible for a harder-than-I’ve-previously-sent project.
At various points in my climbing career, I’ve used training techniques to compensate for lack of natural talent, insufficient mental fortitude, poor crimp strength – the list goes on. I’d sometimes do ridiculous things: a thousand chin-ups and lat pulls in six hours or deadhang crimps with an almost-certain-to-induce-injury full-crimp death-grip and a hundred pounds of iron plates dangling from my harness. It’s amazing that I didn’t blow every tendon in my fingers simultaneously or injure myself beyond that little two-month bout of elbow tendonitis from some epic John Bachar ladder sessions (in Bachar’s backyard no less). However, what all that training did was give me the confidence to try hard routes.
No matter which training plan you choose, successful training, like successful climbing, is 90 percent mental. Be honest with yourself as to why you wish to improve. Sometimes it’s to climb a route you’ve dreamed about since you were 12. Other times you want to burn off your climbing partner or tick the next number grade just to say you did. In the end, focusing on making steps toward achieving your goal will sustain you through the often onerous task of training.
After over three decades of climbing, I sometimes fool myself, with some smug self-satisfaction, that I’ve earned the right to eschew training and climb exclusively outside instead. I did just that last summer. However, once again I’m faced with the fact that no amount of technique or trickery is sufficient for what I want to climb.
So instead of joyfully scaling the perpetually sunny and aesthetic splitters of South Platte or flying to the Rockies or Quebec for the best ice in North America, you’ll find me struggling through the 6a workout on the Beastmaker 1000. For the record, it’s sandbagged. I’ll then try my V4 project on the MoonBoard (another sandbag) and cool down with a yoga class (also sandbagged). In the end, like all things climbing, the effort might eventually be worth it.
Takeda’s Take is a monthly blog by climber and mountaineer Pete Takeda. Pete’s pretty neat.
Photo Credit: Scott Turpin