Thoughts on training for a big ascent

Stefan and Petter are starting up ”El Corazon” in Yosemite at 4.00 am sunday west coast time! That’s the plan and they’ve spent the last week preparing by working the hard pitches and hauling supplies up the wall. It’s the third time they move up this wall together and before they’ve managed to free climb ”Golden Gate” and ”Freerider” on the same rock face. ”El Corazon” was actually the plan for the last trip two years ago but too hot and humid conditions made it near impossible for them that time. The weather this time looks a lot better and according to reports from Stefan they are feeling strong and psyched to get up there! Resting felt futile.. But of course necessary.

I thought some of you might be interested in how to actually prepare for something like this. I am no big wall climber myself but I take part in Stefans training and watch what he does, learning the process at least. Unless you are Tommy Caldwell or just another super talent there are many aspect of training for climbing that needs attention here. Stefan has been training for this route over a year by pushing on some hard trad routes in Bohuslän and climbing a lot of easy ones to get used to the feeling of hand-jamming, lay-backing, placing gear in awkward positions and whatever skills he might encounter on the bigger walls. There is no way around this, you can’t come prepared to Yosemite with just bouldering or hard sport-climbing in the past. It’s just to specific and requires specific practice. This is also the climbing closest to his heart so I guess a big portion of love is necessary to want it hard enough as well.. Knowing a thing or two about handling a rope and placing perfect gear is also something that needs experience and confidence. (One of the major reasons I’ve never felt compelled to big wall climbing..)

Climbing up a thousand meter wall demands some kick ass stamina and he’s been working on this through running, circuit training and hiking with a heavy backpacks. For raw strength and power endurance the classic indoor limit level bouldering and hangboard training alongside climbing hard sport routes at the crag seems to be the best way. Overloading the system with too much junk-training like bouldering without a plan for hours and hours can unfortunately take more energy than it gives you back so some sort of focus is always effective for progression..

For, well, mental training it’s not something he seems to need working on.. Although I know doing massive run outs on both sport routes and trad routes and taking some scary falls on the lead throughout the year helps him to overcome that feeling of extreme exposure that a big wall puts him in. But the most important aspect here is the relationship with your climbing partner. Stefan and Petter seems to have a really good understanding and they work well as a team. No big fights or disbeliefs in between them. Moving up a big wall with some one you do not trust or feel motivated by could be the best recipe for failure. That being said parameters like the weather conditions, staying away from viruses and fatigue at just the right time for the ascent are things you just have to hope luck helps you with.

The training has been done, the preparations are perfectly executed, now I can only wish them the best of luck and hope everything goes well!

Stefan and Petter circuit training in the garage gym
Stefan and Petter circuit training in the garage gym

 

Stefan climbing "My event horizon" 8a at Bohuslän, a great practice for even mightier routes on El Cap.
Stefan climbing ”My event horizon” 8a at Bohuslän, a great practice for even mightier routes on El Cap.
Raw fingerstrength on the Transgression board
Raw fingerstrength on the Transgression board

 

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