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Stuck at leading 5.10! How do I improve leading past 5.10?
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By Burk S.
From Lebanon, Oregon
Jun 20, 2012
I lead routes 5.9 (trad) to 5.10 (sport) both sport and trad, but I seem to be stuck! My bouldering has improved dramatically from VB to V6. I'm starting to think I have a boulder-type body. I should also note that I don't get to climb outside frequently (1-2 times a month), but I do frequent the gym about twice a week.

Has anyone else been stuck here and improved? Any recommendations on how to move past this range when leading are welcomed!

FLAG
By bearbreeder
Jun 20, 2012
is it fear or technique thats holding you back ... if you can climb hard in the gym, especially routes, its likely not strength ...

can you TR at a higher level outside?

FLAG
By Finn the Human
From The Land of Ooo
Jun 20, 2012
Mathematical!
Man up.

But seriously, if you truly boulder V6 you should posses the physical ability climb 11's and probably 12's. My guess is it's a mental thing. Do you get all sketched out when you try to lead harder routes?

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By ptrgeorge
From Houston, TX
Jun 20, 2012
Skull cave, Rifle, CO <br /> <br />awesome shot nate!
Sounds like its got to be a mental thing. Have you tried leading a 5.11 outside yet? what happened? get scared? couldnt pull through a certain move? got pumped? overgripped?

IMO, start getting on 5.11s climb them, try not to fall, if you do climb it again and fall less. No matter what the problem is the solution is easy

FLAG
By johnthethird
Jun 20, 2012
Burk S. wrote:
I lead routes 5.9 (trad) to 5.10 (sport) both sport and trad, but I seem to be stuck! My bouldering has improved dramatically from VB to V6. I'm starting to think I have a boulder-type body. I should also note that I don't get to climb outside frequently (1-2 times a month), but I do frequent the gym about twice a week. Has anyone else been stuck here and improved? Any recommendations on how to move past this range when leading are welcomed!


How often do you get on something harder?

FLAG
By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Jun 20, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.
I ran into this a while ago. I was stuck at "working" .10a routes- for a long ass time. The short answer to your question is that there is no short answer. Plateaus for people stuck at this level, myself included have a myriad of possible causes. For me it was mainly mental- which of course affected the physical aspects as well.

Without more information, it's hard to take a guess at what is holding you back specifically. I'm with Taylor though, if you're bouldering V6 problems, you have the strength to pull 10+/11- cruxes no problem. So...

Are you uncomfortable above gear/draws?
Do you suffer from acrophobia?
Are you uncomfortable falling?
Do you get pumped low on routes?
Do you fail to recognize/utilize good opportunities for rests?

Bouldering and leading on a rope are two different animals. Without knowing any more, I would say that if you really want to improve on your lead climbing, then maybe cut down a little on your bouldering and spend more time on a rope. Lead EVERYTHING. If a route intimidates you, don't top rope it to try to wire the moves and send it by attrition and repetition. If the answer to any of the questions above are yes, single them out, figure out why they're happening, and then attack your weaknesses again and again.

Also, you may want to bump it up to three times a week. When you're at the gym, have a partner that's serious about improving as well, not just someone that's there to putz around with no real goal- not that there's anything wrong with that, but a motivated partner with the same goals will be conducive to your improvement.

Have a plan for the time you allot to climbing. Use it wisely. A lot of people spend more time talking and bullshitting at the gym than they do climbing. Try to identify what specifically is holding you back and go for it on every attempt. Keep at it, you'll get it, especially if you're bouldering V6. Good luck.

FLAG
By JohnnyG
Jun 20, 2012
I was stuck in the 5.10 range for years. Progressed to .10 pretty fast, then just couldn't get to the 11's. Eventually, I got past the plateau by climbing more, a few times a week outside consistently without long periods off due to work or injury. The main difference is that I just got stronger, probably better technique too.

FLAG
By RandyR
Jun 20, 2012
Burk S. wrote:
I lead routes 5.9 (trad) to 5.10 (sport) both sport and trad, but I seem to be stuck! My bouldering has improved dramatically from VB to V6. I'm starting to think I have a boulder-type body. I should also note that I don't get to climb outside frequently (1-2 times a month), but I do frequent the gym about twice a week. Has anyone else been stuck here and improved? Any recommendations on how to move past this range when leading are welcomed!


In what climbing area have you climbed V6? If the answer is 'the gym', then maybe 5.10 is right where you should be. How long have you been climbing?

FLAG
 
By Burk S.
From Lebanon, Oregon
Jun 20, 2012
Taylor Ogden wrote:
Man up. But seriously, if you truly boulder V6 you should posses the physical ability climb 11's and probably 12's. My guess is it's a mental thing. Do you get all sketched out when you try to lead harder routes?



Honestly I do get sketched out with certain climbs (i.e. awkward moves, high first bolts and bad falls). I am guessing getting over this takes time trusting my ability and manning up :)

FLAG
By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Jun 20, 2012
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.
climb with a partner who climbs harder and follow the routes and see what they say about it... Then lead them and see what happens.

FLAG
By Burk S.
From Lebanon, Oregon
Jun 20, 2012
RandyR wrote:
In what climbing area have you climbed V6? If the answer is 'the gym', then maybe 5.10 is right where you should be. How long have you been climbing?



Good point. I have found that the bouldering scales change dramtically where I am. The V6s I have climbed were in the gym, but I have climbed V4 and V5 outside in some local places in Oregon. I will say spots like Joshua Tree is a different beast. I first learned to climb (seriously) at Joshua tree and spent a week there. The best I could do was a V1+ (this was three years ago). I went to Bishop for a week a year ago and was consistently doing V2 and V3. This year is when I did the V4s and V5s. But, also, this was after a lot of falling. But I guess I am still confused, because when I first started climbing I could lead 5.9 but I could only boulder VB, but now I boulder much higher, but my sport climbing only improved slightly.

FLAG
By Andy S.
From Los Angelas
Jun 20, 2012
Flail your way up a couple well protected 5.12 sport routes and all the sudden the 5.11's wont seem so hard anymore.

FLAG
By Burk S.
From Lebanon, Oregon
Jun 20, 2012
JLP wrote:
If I climbed as often as you do, I'd be doing 10's too. Less given your experience level. The thing that confuses me about this frequently asked question is - WHY do you want to improve? You hardly climb and have near zero experience compared to most other 11 climbers, you don't seem engaged in the sport enough to be able to answer this rather obvious question for yourself - why is it you really want to improve?



I wouldn't say that I hardly climb. If you have ever lived in the Portland area, it rains every week and as a med student I don't have the time to spend 3 months in a big place like J-tree of Bishop. In the summer I climb outside about three times a week and visit Smith Rocks about 4-5 times for extended times. I hate climbing inside, but that is all the weather permits. I want to improve beyond 5.10 because I have pretty much exhausted the routes at at the places close to where I live. I also want to improve because the climbs just get more fun as the grade increases. I'm just trying to do the best that I can...

FLAG
By Burk S.
From Lebanon, Oregon
Jun 20, 2012
Burk S. wrote:
I lead routes 5.9 (trad) to 5.10 (sport) both sport and trad, but I seem to be stuck! My bouldering has improved dramatically from VB to V6. I'm starting to think I have a boulder-type body. I should also note that I don't get to climb outside frequently (1-2 times a month), but I do frequent the gym about twice a week. Has anyone else been stuck here and improved? Any recommendations on how to move past this range when leading are welcomed!



I should also mention that I can TR upper 10s and low 11s either on the first try or after figuring out the crux. I want to transfer this to lead climbing.

FLAG
By Galen Rahmlow
From Weehawken
Jun 20, 2012
GER
I had a similar situation. I started TR-ing 11s and 12s in the gym (wasn't pretty at first) just to get exposure and work muscles I've never felt before. In addition I would lead 10s and commit to either making the move or fail trying ... no takes, no letting go, just full mental commitment. This got me over some of the mental fears and taught me how to breath/rest during the climb, not to mention exposure to a couple large falls. I also got a hangboard and would do ladders on it or hang a draw and practice one arm clipping doing several in a row before coming down.

After about 2 months I went with some climbers that were working hard routes and red pointed my first 12a. Watching them work a climb gave me a leg up because I found doing most of the hard moves was a matter of planning rather than physical type of limitation. The transition was really dramatic considering a 10d was the hardest I lead at that point.

FLAG
By Vaughne
Jun 20, 2012
If you can climb V6 you should definitely be able to climb 5.11 It's probably a combination of not enough stamina and the mental game. As others have said, just "man up" and get on some 11's. If you fall, then work out the moves where you fell then try again from the start for a pinkpoint.

JLP wrote:
If I climbed as often as you do, I'd be doing 10's too. Less given your experience level. The thing that confuses me about this frequently asked question is - WHY do you want to improve? You hardly climb and have near zero experience compared to most other 11 climbers, you don't seem engaged in the sport enough to be able to answer this rather obvious question for yourself - why is it you really want to improve?

Huh? This seems rather silly. Obviously everyone wants to improve.

FLAG
 
By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Jun 20, 2012
Burk S. wrote:
If you have ever lived in the Portland area, it rains every week



Actually, I have lived in PDX. Rain is no excuse AT ALL. It's almost always dry on the east side of the range. You should be at Vantage, Smith, etc all winter. Summers there aren't any rainier than most other places, so no excuse in summer either.

Rain at Vantage:


FLAG
By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Jun 20, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.
JLP wrote:
For leading 9/10-, 11- on TR or bolts, your current schedule is about right. For 5.11 - not the occasional overgraded 11a on bolts, but consistent, real 5.11 - I think 3 solid days per week of working hard is the minimum to just maintain strength for the grade. This would be 2.5-4 hr gym sessions and 8 hrs outside, trying hard, rarely more than a few letters below your onsight. The guys breaking into the grade are usually in the gym 2x per week and outside all wknd. This kind of schedule will get you to mid 11 on gear, 12- on bolts, over a couple to a few years. Plan to pile on even more time and years to get beyond that. Also, you don't learn to lead on TR any more than you learn to climb routes by bouldering. It makes about as much sense as running to learn how to ride a bike.


I have found this to be true as well- except for maybe in people that started climbing really young and those with natural genetics and/or nerves and strength. The vast majority of the time I think this is the case. People- especially people new to climbing underestimate the work and dedication it takes to move into and up through the double digit grades. I made this mistake as well. It's partially because they just don't know and don't have enough experience, and because most people think because they moved from 5.5 to 5.9 in a relatively short amount of time, that the ascent up the scale will be similar. Nothing could be further from the truth.

FLAG
By RandyR
Jun 20, 2012
Jake Jones wrote:
I have found this to be true as well- except for maybe in people that started climbing really young and those with natural genetics and/or nerves and strength. The vast majority of the time I think this is the case. People- especially people new to climbing underestimate the work and dedication it takes to move into and up through the double digit grades. I made this mistake as well. It's partially because they just don't know and don't have enough experience, and because most people think because they moved from 5.5 to 5.9 in a relatively short amount of time, that the ascent up the scale will be similar. Nothing could be further from the truth.


I would say that this is especially true considering the OP said that he leads 5.9 trad. Being a solid 5.9 leader on gear is not bad at all.

FLAG
By Burk S.
From Lebanon, Oregon
Jun 20, 2012
Will S wrote:
Actually, I have lived in PDX. Rain is no excuse AT ALL. It's almost always dry on the east side of the range. You should be at Vantage, Smith, etc all winter. Summers there aren't any rainier than most other places, so no excuse in summer either. Rain at Vantage:


Vantage is a five hour drive from my house (I live in SW of Portland). I don't have that kind of time to kill. I am moving closer to Smith, so that is why I am trying to get some good advice on how to improve (I may actually have the time and place). I also have another excuse: wife and newborn :) But they are great and willing to help me achieve my goals.

FLAG
By Burk S.
From Lebanon, Oregon
Jun 20, 2012
Jake Jones wrote:
I ran into this a while ago. I was stuck at "working" .10a routes- for a long ass time. The short answer to your question is that there is no short answer. Plateaus for people stuck at this level, myself included have a myriad of possible causes. For me it was mainly mental- which of course affected the physical aspects as well. Without more information, it's hard to take a guess at what is holding you back specifically. I'm with Taylor though, if you're bouldering V6 problems, you have the strength to pull 10+/11- cruxes no problem. So... Are you uncomfortable above gear/draws? Do you suffer from acrophobia? Are you uncomfortable falling? Do you get pumped low on routes? Do you fail to recognize/utilize good opportunities for rests? Bouldering and leading on a rope are two different animals. Without knowing any more, I would say that if you really want to improve on your lead climbing, then maybe cut down a little on your bouldering and spend more time on a rope. Lead EVERYTHING. If a route intimidates you, don't top rope it to try to wire the moves and send it by attrition and repetition. If the answer to any of the questions above are yes, single them out, figure out why they're happening, and then attack your weaknesses again and again. Also, you may want to bump it up to three times a week. When you're at the gym, have a partner that's serious about improving as well, not just someone that's there to putz around with no real goal- not that there's anything wrong with that, but a motivated partner with the same goals will be conducive to your improvement. Have a plan for the time you allot to climbing. Use it wisely. A lot of people spend more time talking and bullshitting at the gym than they do climbing. Try to identify what specifically is holding you back and go for it on every attempt. Keep at it, you'll get it, especially if you're bouldering V6. Good luck.



Hey Jake this is really helpful advice. I do not have acrophobia, but I do get nervous when I climb above the bolt at the start of the season and when the fall is bad. I can say that at some point I have said yes to all the other questions. I also was taught not to climb anything on lead that you don't know you can finish; perhaps breaking this is key to moving to the next grade.

FLAG
By Burk S.
From Lebanon, Oregon
Jun 20, 2012
Galen Rahmlow wrote:
I had a similar situation. I started TR-ing 11s and 12s in the gym (wasn't pretty at first) just to get exposure and work muscles I've never felt before. In addition I would lead 10s and commit to either making the move or fail trying ... no takes, no letting go, just full mental commitment. This got me over some of the mental fears and taught me how to breath/rest during the climb, not to mention exposure to a couple large falls. I also got a hangboard and would do ladders on it or hang a draw and practice one arm clipping doing several in a row before coming down. After about 2 months I went with some climbers that were working hard routes and red pointed my first 12a. Watching them work a climb gave me a leg up because I found doing most of the hard moves was a matter of planning rather than physical type of limitation. The transition was really dramatic considering a 10d was the hardest I lead at that point.



Thanks for the advice. You sound like what I have been thinking for a while now. I notice when I climb with good climbers I climb much better. I do know that I struggle to hold a position to clip in gear on some lead climbs. I think better planning and improving as you said with finding rests will help a lot. I try to do this, but the mental aspect seems to limit me. Thanks again for the help.

FLAG
By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Jun 20, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.
Psyching yourself out mentally will also manifest itself into physical deficiencies as well. You will grip every hold too hard and that'll pump you out- quick. You will miss hand holds that are wide, or footholds you can use. When you're scared, technique goes right out the window. Sounds like that's your main issue. You can crank on problems that are not correlative with what you can lead because you're close to the ground when you're finishing a V6. You run into a V2ish crux just below a bolt, and you're looking at a nice 15 or 20 footer, even if it's clean, and you shit yourself, no? Get ahold of your mental state and the rest will fall into place. Lead everything. Don't just lead shit you have wired either. Lead routes you've never been on and you're NOT sure you can finish. Try taking some falls on purpose. Increase distance and frequency of your intentional falls in small increments. Don't be rough on yourself. It's counterproductive. All this is just my opinion. Good luck.

FLAG
By Heather V.
Jun 20, 2012
Maybe you also need to find the type of climbing that plays to your strengths. I can onsight 11s at Smith, but get shut down on hard 10s at Ozone. I'm a short girl with no power so the crimpy, balance-y routes at Smith play to my strengths more than the long reachy, power moves at Ozone. I'm working on getting better at routes that need more power than finesse, but I'll always climb a grade or two harder on routes that are my "style."

FLAG
 
By slim
Administrator
Jun 20, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
i think JLP is in the right direction; given how long and how much you have been climbing, along with your other commitments, 5.10 is doing pretty good. particularly if you are doing 10's at beacon, that is fairly respectable.

i also agree with JLP's estimate of the typical amount of effort/maintenance that will be needed to climb consistently at the 11 level. with your other commitments, you are going to need to be creative with your time. any day that you spend climbing less than 10- or maybe 9's is going to be a waste.

also, agree with willS - vantage and smith (not to mention trout creek) are all within the scope of a weekend. this may mean that you will have to work out some sort of plan or agreement with your wife to make this a reality.

FLAG
By s.price
From PS,CO
Jun 20, 2012
 Morning Dew ,self portrait
Burk, whoever taught you to not lead routes that you can't finish must not understand the meaning of having a project. Get on some hard routes, take some whippers. Open up that mental block. Good luck

FLAG


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