Building your pillar - improving your climbing

Building your pillar - improving your climbing

The coolest trick I've seen in ages (the guy has loads of video on his Vimeo page).


It's a good analogy of the different components of your climbing performance. I've been doing a fair bit of coaching, and observing of individuals, in recent weeks - seems to be that time of year, when just as we come into the Irish Summer (you might have missed it when it happened at Easter? ;).

As always, people at different stages are all chasing different targets: beginners looking to just get better; more experienced climbers chasing getting better technically, developing their mindset; even more experienced climbers chasing more fitness, strength, power; people looking to get outdoors and have adventures over the summer.

And most of them are doing it aimlessly (but that's a story for another day!).

The video above is all the different components of climbing: technique, fitness, strength, strategy, pacing, having fun, route-reading, mental, etc. And every single one of them is just as important as the other - without one of the stones above in the correct place, none can stand up on top of each other. So pick your/those weaknesses and get them all in balance.

Only beginning your journey in climbing, or relatively new to increasing your grade a bit in climbing? Focus on spreading your range of experience across climbs (routes and problems) to develop a range of experience and skillsets. Don't get too hung up on weaknesses just yet. But make sure to vary what you're doing and 

Super strong but can't hold on for more than 10 holds - spend some time getting some fitness, you just might be surprised what happens to your strength in time.

Can one-arm a mono but can't go more than a hair above a bolt before freaking out and yet spending all your time getting stronger? you might want to re-consider your priorities.

Can hold on forever so long as the holds are big? Spend some time getting stronger, you'll be surprised what you can do in the future.

Going for routes but finding your shaky, rattled, uncomfortable, agitated? Perhaps you need to do some work on the process and how to find your zone.

Spend all your time talking about people doing hard routes and yourself doing stuff, but can't seem to get off your plateau of several months/years? Re-think your strategy.

Climbing indoors all the time but your entire focus is on outdoor rock? Move to Spain. (O.k. maybe that one I'm being cheeky :).

Spend a lot of time talking about improvement but in same breath won't accept you need to plan what you're doing?


You can apply this to any climber in any context (indoor, outdoor, comp, etc) - it's worth watching The Ring of Fire video here (although I have a new found appreciation of why music can ruin a video) where the new up and coming 14-year olds beat all the senior competitors (which I personally think is fantastic!). If you compare the footage near the end of Kai Lightner and Ashima climbing the men's final route, it's pretty evident that Kai's strength and fitness is phenomenal but his route-reading could do with some work!



So, what rock have got out of line?

"But I fought those feelings and went back to try again"

"But I fought those feelings and went back to try again"

This site -

This site -