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Training plan for a crack climber
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By Bill Dugan
From San Bernardino, CA
Feb 1, 2012

I saw the "bouldering only" thread and I guess I was inspired to get some perspective on my scenario. I've been tuned in to the training forum here for a while and have read the MoaRP article (great resource) and the Eric Horst books on training. Although I enjoy pushing the grade at my local sport crag (Riverside Quarry) and want to train for improvement there, I consider my focus to be on climbing harder crack routes. Some routes id like to redpoint are Risk Brothers Roof (Red Rocks), Think Pink (IC), The Big Baby (IC), Way Rambo (IC), Separate Reality (Yose), and Organasm (Zion).

I find that there's a specific, debilitating pump that comes with hard crack climbing that id like to train to endure and I'm wondering if the periodization structure promoted will yield the results I'm looking for. I prefer a structured training program but am wondering if strength training (hangboarding) is going to help.

Maybe I should increase HYP and reduce hangboarding sessions?

As for MaxR, I'be yet to work campus laddering in any way and don't really have plans to.


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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Feb 1, 2012
You stay away from mah pig!

I'm sure that Slim will weigh in here; he's got a whole hangboard setup with different styles, sizes, and flares of jams.

I'm still unconvinced that non-OW crack technique takes specific training (I'm not saying it doesn't take specific techniques or muscles, though). I've climbed my best cracks while in really good sport shape, and I think that, assuming your technique is honed, endurance, strength, and power are the same whether you are on a crack or a sport climb. The anecdotal stories of so many strong sport climbers making the transition easily into hard cracks supports this, too.

Get solid 5.12 endurance, and hand cracks, even through roofs, will be a breeze. Get 5.13 endurance, and ringlocks will be cruiser. Get tweaky v-double digit bouldering power, and you will probably have a shot at Cobra Crack.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Feb 2, 2012

Well, most (or all?) those walls Mike (who wrote the MoaRP) freed had hard crack climbing on them. Alex Huber famously learned to jam on a short trip to JT and freed the Salathe shortly thereafter.

And there are a couple of really good cracks at the Quarry: Taboo and Agony Arch. Bonus is, even on the most crowded day, they will be empty. Run back to back laps on Insomnia, that should help.


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By JCM
From Golden, CO
Feb 2, 2012

+2 For Camhead's response.

Sport climbing endurance translates very well to crack climbing, so long as you have the crack technique to back it up. Note the emphasis on endurance; the routes you mentioned are generally not about being able to crank through a stopper crux, but are instead more about being able to fight the slow burn. Crimp power is pretty much irrelevant on those sorts of routes (this changes if you enter into the land of tips laybacking, but that is a different topic). This means that hangboarding will do very little to help you get up a route like Way Rambo. Instead, focus on power-endurance of the forearms and the large-muscle groups. Your standard steep/sustained pumpy sport climbs should fill this role perfectly.

Also think about the angle of rock you are preparing for. For vertical IC cracks, putting in a lot of milage on sustained, slightly overhanging terrain should be good preparation. I feel like the climbing at IC, although it is vertical, is so physical that it simulates a steeper angle. For a roof crack like Seperate Reality, which will engage your core and back muscles in a different way than vertical terrain, spend some time climbing on roofs to get used to it.

Lastly, there is no substitute for crack climbing milage for building technique and confidence. If you want to get better at climbing in the Creek, build a solid base of sport-climbing endurance beforehand, and then take a trip to to the Creek. You also have lots of options in SoCal for practicing for crack climbing. Putting in laps on a route like Insomnia (at Suicide) will do a lot for your crack technique (and fitness too!). J-Tree has some good offerings as well. Check out "Big Bob's Big Wedge".

So basically, train as you would for endurance sport climbing on decent holds. Also practice technique and get some milage in on the types of cracks you want to climb. Put the two together. Send.


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