It’s occurred to me lately that I may not possess any original ideas on fitness and training for climbing. Most of the training we do at Garage Gym is a blend of ideas I ripped off from either Gym Jones or Mountain Athlete. Their fitness foundation plans helped me train for and meet my goals. So after completing my long-standing project of doing 100 High Sierra routes, I needed a new challenge. I have never been particularly good at sport climbing (I maxed out with a few Cave Rock 5.12b’s in the early 90’s) so I decided to focus some energy on hangdoggin’ and clipping bolts. Sport climbing requires an entirely different type of training than what I’ve been doing the last 15 or so years. Alpine rock climbing requires the ability to hike long distances, scramble along miles of loose ridges and fire off multiple pitches of (usually) sub 5.10 climbing. It’s like an ultra marathon. Real sport climbing starts at 5.11. You need finger strength, power endurance and the ability to recover on overhanging terrain to succeed. It’s a sprint. Over the years I’ve allowed my free climbing ability to drop to an embarrassingly low standard. It was time for a change.
|5 year old Oona Davis at Bachar Boulders|
I’ve been aware of Steve Bechtel’s web page Climbstrong.com for a few years. Steve has training for sport climbing down. I ordered his excellent book “Power Endurance” and got busy. The Gym Jones and Mountain Athlete foundation programs I’d been following were heavy on squats, lunges, box jumps and step-ups, so one of the first things I needed to do was drop some of the leg mass I’d built up. I remember reading that when Tony Yaniro wanted to get back into climbing he had a doctor cast his legs to atrophy the massive quads he developed mountain bike and nordic ski racing. Since I’m an operating room nurse I figured I could get one of the orthopedic surgeons I know to cast my legs, but I then realized that might be going too far. My wife is freaked out enough by some the whacky training shit I’ve done over the years. I can just hear her on the phone with her mother “…..Mike? well, he has his unbroken legs in cast to lose weight…he’s laying down “recovering” watching climbing videos.” With that option ruled out I got serious about my diet.
About a month ago my friend James Coborn called and asked if I’d be interested in climbing a route called Electric Lundy Land III (5.10a). I’d heard mixed reviews. Was it an alpine sport route? Or was it a bolted backcountry route? The one thing everyone agreed on was that it had a lot of bolts. As we approached the climb it became obvious that the route was on the same formation I’d climbed with Tim Maas in 2001. In fact, our route shared the first pitch with Electric Lundy Land and parallels just right all the way to the top. We descended down a gulley to the south where Tim spotted some big horn tracks, hence the name Big Horn Buttress III (5.8). We carried a small rack and no bolts. We didn’t “report” our first ascent but I drew a topo and gave it in jest to Dave Nettle. Dave and I have a running joke about every route that we’ve ever done could be recommended to somebody i.e. each other. But I don’t really have an issue with the number of bolts on Electric Lundy Land. I’m sure there are a lot of climbers these days that could climb it without any bolts. But to complain about some bolts in the rock an hour and a half up an old road that’s littered with mining debris (which is somehow historical and cool?) seems lame. And to think that the sky is falling and soon there will be over bolted sport routes right next to Sierra classics seems really lame and paranoid. Don’t like it? Don’t ask me for a topo.