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By Chitro
From Bonn, Germany
Apr 20, 2013
On Suficiente at Vistamar, Tenerife going to z-clip but corrected myself!
I climb a lot on plastic and feel quite confident about it, but have limited oportunities to climb real rock.

Of course I love climbing outside but it is different from gym climbs and I perform below my level. At the gym I can onsight most 5.10a/b's and red point 5.11a/bs, but outside even some 5.9's seem hard for the grade.

How can one improve his/her real rock performance through gym climbing and with limited trips outside. (Once in 2 months may be.)

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By Kenan
Apr 20, 2013
Shelf Rd
It's quite the conundrum, eh? Despite the flame-fest that will surely follow, and even though most won't readily admit it, ... there are tons of people who are struggling with this issue.

The bottom line is that there's no real substitute for rock. The reason you climb so much better in the gym is that you do it so much more often. I know people who are very skilled and experienced outdoor climbers who hardly ever climb in the gym... and when they do, they are lost and perform poorly as well. So it goes both ways to some extent. But most people that start in the gym struggle with this issue, not only for technical differences in the medium, but also for the mental chatter that tends to be so loud outside... a.k.a. REAL and justified FEAR!

The best advice I can give is to spend a lot of time on routes that are 'slabby' in the gym or that require a lot of stemming, body tension, etc. Those skills seem to be more relevant on rock than pulling on large, blatantly obvious handholds. As you become more fit and continue to increase your skills indoors, you WILL eventually see incremental improvements in your outdoor skills. But expect there to always be a disparity between your indoor & outdoor performance if the amount of time you spend in one forum vastly outweighs the other.

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By teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Apr 20, 2013
Aiding.
John Marsella wrote:
* you're probably not "performing below your level"; it's just a different game outside (fear of objective hazards, exposure, character of rock, reliance on you/your partner's ability to do stuff right as opposed to the gym's ability to provide a safe environment, etc). * to improve your outdoors skills, get outdoors more (mileage!).


This is the kernel of the issue, I think.

If you can onsight 11d in the gym (and remember, onsight means a lead with no beta), but have limited outside experience, do not expect to climb even close to this level outside on lead. And an 11d toprope is even less of an indicator of your outside ability.

You really need mileage on the rock outside. Heck, even if you get great at the local granite cliff, you may feel completely lost when you first start hitting up sandstone or conglomerate. Sometimes even a different granite cliff will feel baffling: it'll be this way until your hair is gray. :-)

There is no substitute for lots and lots of climbing outside, and gym climbing is great (I do it all the time), it's not the same as climbing outside.

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By j gatchalian
From denver, co
Apr 20, 2013
little twin owls area, lumpy ridge.  with arms wide open...
i think it's also important to know the experience of the routesetters at your gym. if they climb a lot outside, their setting and routes can reflect that a bit more, which obviously makes the indoor to outdoor transition at least a little bit easier.

if they are more gym focused, sometimes the routes have more "party trick" moves and really don't help with actual climbing. the poor man's way to make a route hard in a gym is by putting holds really far apart with poor feet. this doesn't help to improve your technique, so when faced with sequences on real rock, the skill set might not be there.

but like everyone has already stated, more time spent on real rock will eventually yield the results you want.

good luck!

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By Chitro
From Bonn, Germany
Apr 20, 2013
On Suficiente at Vistamar, Tenerife going to z-clip but corrected myself!
Thanks for all the useful comments.

Another relevant question is when I do get to climb outside (mostly at red river gorge), should I try to onsight more routes at my level, 5.9 or 5.10a/b or try to red point some harder 5.10c/d, or even 5.11 routes?

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By Ryan Nevius
From The Range of Light
Apr 20, 2013
Mt. Agassiz
Chitro wrote:
Thanks for all the useful comments. Another relevant question is when I do get to climb outside (mostly at red river gorge), should I try to onsight more routes at my level, 5.9 or 5.10a/b or try to red point some harder 5.10c/d, or even 5.11 routes?


Yes, to both questions.

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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Apr 20, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV
Chitro wrote:
Thanks for all the useful comments. Another relevant question is when I do get to climb outside (mostly at red river gorge), should I try to onsight more routes at my level, 5.9 or 5.10a/b or try to red point some harder 5.10c/d, or even 5.11 routes?


For you, I would say to spend more time and effort on onsighting as many routes at your level as you can for the first few climbs of the day (aim for 3 to 5 good onsights). Gradually increasing the difficulty. Then step it up for the last climbs; try to push into your project grade for a route or two, giving each route at least two solid tries. Hang at the crux and work those moves out a few times for the first climb, instead of trying to onsight (especially if you know it is well out of your onsight range, this will conserve your strength and allow for a better run through on the second go). Optional; climb one last route to end the day, something well within your onsight range but still somewhat challenging. This makes for a good, long day out (which is what you want with the frequency you're able to get outdoors).

Eventually, if you ever have the time, you might want to break up your days to be specifically project days (only work one route just above your limit after one or two warm ups) or specifically onsight days (as many routes onsighted as possible). This will help to really hone in on power and endurance for maximum results instead of melding them into one session, reducing your strength for powerful crux moves.

just my 2 cents

Happy climbing!

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By teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Apr 20, 2013
Aiding.
It depends a bit on the kind of trouble you are having outside.

If you can't figure out the moves and you are falling, then I'd say do something much like Jon just wrote about above me.

However, I know ages ago when I started trying to translate my gym skills to rock, my biggest problem was the head game. If you are having issues of hesitation or you are backing off of routes, it's great to climb places where top ropes are easy to set up. Still try for the to onsight and work routes on lead (so as to avoid becoming dependent on the top rope), but then you have the option to get your gear back if it proves too hard.

And don't be afraid to top rope a route that gives you trouble, figure it out, and then lead it.

I'm coming back from a long absence, and I found that doing a few rehearsals on top rope and then leading routes got my lead head back much quicker than I expected.

And one last thing: some 5.9 routes outside are hard for the grade, aside from any issues of being new (indeed, there are 5.9 routes out there harder than any 5.10 in a gym). So get the local beta on your crag and make sure you're on routes that make sense for newer leaders. This is probably not a problem at newer sport routes, but you never know. One of my favorite local crags has bolted sport routes that feel way harder than any other bolted sport routes I've climbed at the grade.

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By S. Neoh
Apr 20, 2013
As already pointed out, gym and outdoors are different 'games'.
I think the biggest difference is footholds. Gym hard .11 generally have better footholds than a stiff outdoor .10b/c. Also there is no tape outdoors to show you where the footholds are.

Terrain also has something to do with it. Outdoors typically need more finesse and good technique.

I see that the OP climbs at RRG. RRG is just about the only place that I onsight/flash about as hard as at the gym. For me, it is mostly due to the typical RRG route being not hard to read; same goes for the typical gym route.

IMO, the only sure fire way to bring up your outdoor game is to climb more outdoors.

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By AlanJ
From Longmont, CO
Apr 20, 2013
Thats me after a pretty stiff 5.7 or as the locals have come to call it...a lake 5.7
Hey pal, I'm surey alreay know, but devils lake in wisconsin is 3 hrs away from you. All trad and top roping with some of the most beautiful rock that rock climbing has. The routes are pretty stiff there so prepare for that.

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