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A Girl Who Climbs

A blog of bouldering

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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! 

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 🙂

 

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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 🙂

 

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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. 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!

Victoria Park Boulder | Widnes

When you have lived in the same town your whole life, I think it’s easy to become immune to what it has to offer. The artificial climbing feature has been in Victoria Park for years, and I always deemed it as something ‘just for kids’. However, since climbing has been in my life
I have started to see things in a whole new light. So after dinner last night, I went over to the park with A Boy Who Climbs to investigate the boulder. Naturally we had a little climb on it too!

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Firstly I was really surprised by how authentic it was, the texture is great and somewhere in between an indoor hold and real rock. As you can see from the pictures, this boulder has some great angles and is packed with pinches, crimps, jugs and a bunch of interesting details. It’s obvious a lot of time, knowledge and money has been put into this rock feature. There are so many climbs you can plot on this one boulder,  I’m planning on going back with my chalk bucket and climbing shoes at some point very soon. I can see this becoming a great venue to have a fun session on over the Summer.

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I was considering taking some more photos at some point to visually show any problems we end up making on it too. There are already some lines set which you can find here on the UK Climbing website if you’re interested.

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I think these boulders are becoming more common across parks now, and if there is one near you, you should definitely go and check it out. You might be pleasantly surprised by how good it is!

 

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Bouldering Outside First Time Tips

I’ve only ventured out onto real rock a handful of times, and it has always been awesome. However, there are a few things I have discovered on these trips which I wish I had known before hand. Here’s a short list of things to keep in mind as you head out on your first outdoor bouldering adventure.

Travel Light
Only take to the boulders what you really need because if you’ve got a long approach up hills and over fields, you’ll be cursing that extra pair of shoes and spare bottle of water in your bag.

Pack Sensible Food
Take the right type of food to keep your energy levels up. Snacks that are individually wrapped or don’t require handling to eat are generally better, as you’re less likely to eat the dirt and chalk covering your hands.

Look After Nature
You should leave the area you’re climbing exactly as you found it, if not in better condition. Don’t litter, be careful with the chalk and try your best to keep the ecosystem happy.

Keep Clean
Try to keep your climbing boots as clean as possible by standing on towels/blankets. A friend uses a spare square of carpet which is ideal to clean off the mud/moss/bugs to help avoid foot slips.

What to Wear
Dressing in light layers is key, especially in the UK where the weather can turn ever so quickly. It’s also good to keep some spare clothes in the car too, just incase.

Get Ready
You still need to warm up when you’re climbing outside. Jogging and using resistance bands is a great way to start, as is climbing very easy problems or traversing to get your fingers acclimated.

Safety First
If you’re not climbing you should be spotting whoever is, stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you.

It’s Hella Scary
I found climbing out on real rock can be very scary at first, especially if you’re use to an indoor gym. Build up your confidence, work on whatever appeals to you and don’t get bogged down by grades and lines.

So there it is! From my very limited outdoor experience I feel like I have learnt so much. A few more real rock adventures and I’ll have it all down hopefully.

Tips and advice are always welcome in the comments 🙂

 

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Peanut Butter Bites | Recipe

Here’s another crag snack recipe and what’s even better about this one is, it doesn’t require an oven. These little bites of energy are quick and easy to make, but also customisable depending on your diet and taste preferences. You can make them as healthy or unhealthy as you like! Swap out chocolate chips for cacao nibs, use maple syrup instead of honey, add in mini marshmallows or include dried fruit.

I converted the ingredients from cups to grams, and then used my judgment to get the mixture how I wanted it! You can find the original recipe here.

Ingredients
Oats – 140g
Ground flaxseed – 20g
Chia seeds – 15g
Milk chocolate chips -40g
Honey – 2 tbsp
Smooth peanut butter – 120g / 1/3 of the jar
PB collage
Super quick and easy to make

 

1. In one large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together
2. Add in the honey and peanut butter
4. Stir and mix together until the oats are completely covered. I found it easy to press down with the spatula, this spreads the peanut butter
5. Cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge
6. Once chilled, spoon out small amounts and press/roll into small balls with you hands
7. Roll each ball in some more oats and you’re done!
PB 2 collage
I love my Happy Jackson snack boxes!

 

If you prefer you can make a ‘tray no-bake’ instead of the balls. Follow the same method up to and including step 4, then squash a thick layer of the mixture down into a cling film lined tray, and sprinkle the top with some more oats before chilling. Once chilled slice into squares and you’re good to go.

 

I’d love you hear how they turn out if you make them 🙂

 

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