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A Girl Who Climbs

A blog of bouldering

Climbing For Yourself

A few things have changed this month. I’ve got a new job to pay the climbing bills, and with that comes different time schedules and general re-adjustment. This means I’ve not been able to climb with the people I usually would, but instead of popping down for a solo climb, I’ve waited until the timings aligned so I could go with them. There is nothing wrong with this, but since I really want to up my climbing game, hitting the gym once a week just isn’t going to cut it! Realistically I’ve got the time to fit in a quick session, so after putting it off I finally just went down and climbed on my own.

 
It was pretty cool as the gym was quite, so I happily worked a couple of problems and moved on to things I wouldn’t normally try. Surprisingly I  found climbing solo made me work harder, I took fewer breaks and just tried to get stuff done. There was no-one there to see me succeed or fail, and it really didn’t matter because I was enjoying myself and making some progress. Also, it wasn’t half as scary as I thought it was going to be!

 

Bouldering with others is awesome, I really enjoy the social aspect of the climbing community, plus sometimes having someone there watching can give you that extra little push to finish a move or problem. However, depending on how I’m feeling that day, having a bunch of people watch me can also work the opposite way. I guess it’s all very personal, and getting the right balance can be tricky. Sometimes it’s good having people around who inspire you to try hard, but equally it can be nice to solo climb and face your own battles to achieve your own goals for yourself!

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To balm or not to balm ?

To balm or not to balm, that is the question?

I’ve been getting into a habit of looking after my hands post climbing, and I think it has helped my skin. This in turn helps my climbing, as there’s nothing worse than a nasty flapper, or pinking your fingers and having to wait for them to heal. Giving your hands some extra care can help prevent these.

Moisturising or using a climbing balm is the easiest option, I’m currently using ‘Handy Gurugu’ from Lush, which smells amazing! Climb On and Monkey Fist are also great balms I tend to use. I like to treat my skin before bed by using a thick layer of the product, and put some cotton gloves on to sleep in.I find that the chalk is particularly drying on my hands, so giving them some moisture at night always feels good.

Another option is using a soft nail file to smooth down calluses, as this can stop them from peeling or becoming flappers. To me, having softer and more pliable skin means there is less chance of rips and tears, and pain in general.

Of course this is all my own opinion and experience, and I know plenty of climbers who don’t balm and that works for them. The argument for not moisturising is to harden the skin and get it conditioned to the environment.

I vote to balm, and if you’re feeling crafty here’s a climbing balm DIY recipe.

I would love to read your thoughts and opinions on the subject πŸ™‚

 

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‘6 Ninja Tricks to Becoming a Better Climber’ | Athlete By Choice

I’ve just read ‘6 Ninja Tricks to Becoming a Better Climber’ from Athlete By Choice, and I’m feeling psyched to get a training scheduled sorted. Despite its size, this little guide is packed with great training regimes to help you reach your climbing potential.

I like that each strategy is logical, and yet they are not things I would think to do! It’s a very well informed book, put together in handy size so you can take it with you to the gym. In a nutshell, ‘6 Ninja Tricks to Becoming a Better Climber’ is easy to understand and to the point, providing you with adaptable training programmes for any climbing type and level.

Since I only boulder I’m intrigued to try out the ‘Hangboard Endurance Training’, as I have never climbed a long, forearm killing route. Without giving too much away, it works by doing hand squeezes and using a chair/box to prop your feet up on whilst you hang. Duncan also touches on ways to improve your technique, pull ups, and how to help prevent injuries. Plus there’s even a section in the back for you to write your notes/progress down.

Definitely try and get your hands on this little book of ninja tricks! You can find it over at HoldBreaker free with any order, and go check out Athlete By Choice on Facebook and Instagram too.

Happy training! 

A Girl Who Climbs Blog Birthday | 1 Year

Yesterday was A Girl Who Climbs first blog birthday! A whole year has flown by since I nervously put up my very first post. I’ve learnt and grown so much as both a person and climber in those 365 days, and hopefully that has shown through these weekly ramblings. Now that I think about it, it has been a pretty incredible year with some good achievements.

Thank you for following me along the way, no matter what platform it’s on. It’s just awesome to interact with everyone and to feel like part of the climbing community. Sharing my experiences as I learn is still very much the focus and reason for this blog, along with the hopes that it helps someone out.

So now that the reflective, soppy stuff is out the way, I wanted something to mark the occasion. You may have noticed yesterday that the crimp creature has had a make over to celebrate!

Thanks to Helen Dennett Illustration for this amazingly cute logo. You can check out all of Helen’s illustrations on her website. I’m so psyched with this little guy.

Logo

So here’s to another year of blog posts!

Happy climbing πŸ™‚

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Grade Yourself | Part 2

Let’s face it, being up high with odd-shaped holds to cling onto is a little crazy, even more so when it’s by choice. Countless times I’ve written about how it’s okay to be scared when you’re bouldering, and I still belive that it is. However, the fear shouldn’t stop you from trying hard, it should push you. This is something I’ve known for a long time but only just started acting upon. A couple of months ago I wrote about ‘Grading Yourself’ which you can find here, and after a quick review it now looks something like this:

Confidence : V1 V2

Grip : V4+

Footwork: V3

Movement: V3

Dynamic: V2 V2+

Eight weeks down the line and a bunch of climbing session later, I feel like I’m making some progress and starting to level out the factors. Obviously the main thing here for me is still confidence, which I have found is getting better as I try to be a little braver each time I climb a problem. Also the fact that I can do a pull up now has helped so much on the metal side. Being more dynamic has been easier as my confidence in myself has grown too, it’s good to see how one thing can have a positive impact on another.

So now it’s all about keeping the ball rolling and staying onboard with the progress, plus listening to people when they tell you that you can do it! I’m starting to make a conscious effort to climb on holds and angles I would normal avoid, because ignoring them won’t help me improve in the long run πŸ™‚

 

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How To Tape Your Finger For Climbing

You’ve probably seen climbers in the gym with their fingers battered and covered in tape. Taping your fingers can help you to still climb even when they’re a bit achy, or prevent a tweak from becoming an injury. Taping holds the tendon against the bone, and stops the already sore pulley from being over stressed. Learning how to tape is a useful skill, so I figured it would be good to write a post on it. I’ve only taped my finger a few times when I had a small pulley injury, which you can read about here. I used the technique shown below, which is variation of the figure of 8 method. I found this the easiest and most supportive taping method, as it’s fairly easy to do yourself.

 

 

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A Boy Who Climbs kindly demonstrating the taping method.

 

 

1. Relax the finger that needs taping and make a fist to tuck the other digits out of the way.
Starting at the bottom pad of finger/proximal phalanx, wrap the tape around 3 times towards yourself, keeping the finger relaxed.
2. After 3 turns, cross the tape diagonally along the side of the knuckle ensuring knuckle is not covered.
3. Wrap the tape 3 times around the middle pad of finger/middle phalanx, and diagonally along the other side of the knuckle, ending back where the tape started.

 

 

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I really like the Psychi finger tape as it’s really hard-wearing and sticky, which stops it from peeling off.

 

 

Hopefully that makes sense, and the pictures are helpful! Ultimately if your tendons or pulleys are hurting you probably shouldn’t climb, as sad as that seems, but I hope this helps you prevent an injury.
Please feel free to leave any thoughts or tips in the comments on taping fingers πŸ™‚

 

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How To Do A Pull Up | A Newbie’s Journey: Part 3

After working on negative pull ups for around eight weeks, the time finally came when I did a pull up! In fact I did a pull up on a campus rung, on a bar, and just to make sure I did one last one on the nice holds of a Beastmaker. It was all with close grip but it was awesome, and there will be video footage to follow! It’s still a difficult motion to do as I can still feel the sticking point, but now I can just about push past it.Β I think a mixture of climbing twice a week, plus working on negative pull ups has helped strengthen and hone the muscles required to pull myself up.
It feels good to reach a goal after working at it for so long, I’m still psyched about it a week later! Knowing I can haul my body weight up has defiantly boosted my confidence on the wall.
So what’s next in the pull up adventure?
– Completing 5 pull ups with good form
– Work on wider grip
If you’re working on pull ups, keep going and it will happen.
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P.S You can find Part 1 here, and click here for Part 2

Holding Holds | Climbing Hold Types

One of the most important factors of climbing is staying on the wall by holding on, which is made easier by finger and grip strength. However, knowing how to hold a hold can also make a huge difference to how you climb. This is why I love visiting other climbing centres, as they all set with different brands of holds so you get to climb on something new.

 Even though they are all pretty self-explanatory I though it would be worth doing a breakdown of hold types:

 

Jug 
A generous hold that has a very positive grip for the whole hand, much like a door handle. 
Sloper 
  Usually rounded and edgeless which means it requires plenty of friction to hold, and just the right amount of chalk.
Crimp 
Easy to spot (or not as the case may be) as they have a very small edge which can be held with the first pads of your fingers/fingertips.

 

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Pinch
Much like it sounds, this is normally a longer chunk of a hold which depends on grip strength between fingers and thumb to hold.

Pocket 
This hold is only suitable for 1-3 fingers, and requires great finger strength to use and move from safely.

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 Being at the lower end of the grade spectrum means most of the time I end up having very positive hand holds in the problems I climb. This is cool, but there are so many hold varieties out there that it’s kind of shame I don’t get try them out in climbs. To remedy this, I make an effort to move to and from the different styles of hand holds whilst traversing, which I’ve found quite helpful and challenging! 

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Heel Hookin’ | The Active Way

I’ve been avoiding these like the plague since I started climbing, which is now two and a half years. Resting heels I’m fine with but the active heel hooks, used to propel yourself up the wall, I find unnatural and  scary. I never quite trust myself, and as soon as my heel hits the hold I’m convinced my ankle will snap. However, at the weekend I managed to conquer the heel hooking fear and I’m still alive to tell the tale, all limbs in tacked!
Being scared of using my heel resulted in me overusing my arms, to the point were I would end up locking off. The pure fear of ‘death by heel hook’ somehow gave me super strength to pull up and lock off. As impressive as this is at the time, all it really does is make it harder to use the heel, and ultimately puts myself at a higher injury risk. Having my heel on the hold but not engaging it makes it unstable and therefore more likely to come off. So in the process of trying to not come off the wall, I would make it even more likely to happen! I also found it difficult to wrap my head around how you move upwards via a heel. It’s been explained and demonstrated to me so many times, but I could never connect the movements. For some reason when Marcus (A Boy Who Climbs) explained it yet again for the 3012584 time:  “Put your weight on your heel and move your other leg out to open your hips” the penny dropped.

This explanation finally made some sense to me, as it generated the mental image of flattening yourself against the wall, by weighting your heel and moving your other leg out. As you can see in the video, I didn’t go far but it worked and I felt myself move upwards which honestly caught me off guard!

I’ve come to the conclusion that the main reason for all of the unease was down to not understanding the mechanics of the movement, so that’s something I can look for next time I get stuck with something in climbing, skating or life in general.

It’s a big personal achievement to use an active heel hook, and if you’re struggling with it then just know that not everyone finds it an easy or a natural movement. Confidence, trust and time will get you there, along with some solid practice. Hope this helps!

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