The New Wave

When you're too busy to climb lots, you can still make time for some exercise and training. Two 30-minute sessions a week on this fingerboard from +Eva López and +JM Climbing Surfaces means I'm now strong enough on this board to hang the second from last edge size at the bottom.......consistency is king!
It's been an interesting year or two in the climbing scene worldwide! Ondra went on to pretty much climb everything hard out there, to the point that no-one can really relate to what he's doing anymore. And some people started to get the impression he was almost one of a kind. That was never the case......
There was always the other 'kids' coming through - and by other, I mean a huge number. The Raboutu family, and numerous other young stars making names - and these are only the more visible examples. Climbing high grade 8 routes, grade 7 & 8 boulders. 'Kids' qualifying for senior finals (here in Ireland also, but not exclusive to us - Megan Mascarenas being one name I saw making finals and finishing 4th at the US ABS Nationals).

And then, a few days ago, Alex Magos happened. Of course, he wasn't completely out of the blue - anyone who had seen what he'd pulled off on his American trip wasn't surprised. But 9a onsight and 9a+ in two tries got everyone's attention! It's amazing to think that 10 years ago, this sort of level of difficulty took months of attempts and can now be done in an afternoon......

What's fantastic is we have our own New Wave coming through her in Ireland. The existing 'scene' is undergoing a renaissance with a huge influx of new-comers - just go to any climbing wall and you'll see lots of super-psyched, smiling, motivated, willing-to-try-hard climbers (of all ages and both genders too!). Imagine when the small collection that head outside (and it will only be a reduced number - if anything, the indoor climbing scene will eventually - if not already? - be bigger than the Irish climbers of outside). It's about to happen in the UK (pdf link).......

And that's not to mention our current leading climber. Dom Burns ticked Partage (font 8a+) last week in Fontainebleau. Heady numbers, and I'd suspect that that was one of many other significant climbs and activities from the huge group over in France at present. They may not be the equivalent grade of difficulty, but it's all relative and for your own personal aspirations anyway so either way, I'll be amazed/psyched/inspired to climb alongside these young climbers going forward, indoors or outdoors!

My current work sees lots of amazing beginners entering the sport, with a fresh new perspective, mindset and attitude to all parts of climbing. Smarter training (thankfully some of which is being passed on.......), better awareness of what injures, and new enthusiasm makes for a potent mix :)



8mm edge in the previous month of training, now on the 7's - and by now on the 7's, I mean comfortably able to do multiple hangs on them (whereas while a few months ago, I could have done one, it felt much more on limit). As always, I personally feel it's better to measure by what is your top average level, not what your absolute max is. On 'real' climbs, what is the grade you can always climb when you go to a new area or crag - i.e. not depending on local, always-on-it, experience (which can be a significant booster in climbing).

The above photo is completely arbitrary as it's training, but the knowledge that a hold this size is now comfortable transfers directly to outdoor rock performance....... The nice part is that this sort of training is measurable instead of falling off random routes and problems and unsure if it's pure strength, technique, route reading, etc. (although the others are just as important so essential not to neglect these if they need work too!) - you see the visible gains (i.e. moving down rungs) over months, and you also see other photos of inspiration to show that the smaller rung is possible (Google+ link - thanks to +Michal Batorek for the link)

Neal McQuaidComment