training for yosemite-style climbing | Uphill Athlete

training for yosemite-style climbing

  • Creator
  • #38743

    I’m starting a rock-focused training cycle along the lines of Josh Wharton’s intermediate rock plan, and with the majority of my objectives centered around granite trad climbing in Yosemite (and, once summer hits, alpine rock in the High Sierra) I was wondering if there are any recommended adjustments I could make to my training to improve at this particular style of climbing (i.e. finger cracks, off-hands cracks, pumpy liebacks, offwidths, etc). I have a decent amount of experience climbing granite already, and would like to up my onsight grade for harder (for me) single pitch to shorter multipitch routes this spring, and aim for harder alpine rock objectives later this year. I understand crack technique makes a big difference, so I’ve been making an effort to continually work on that as well. Thanks!

Posted In: Climbing

  • Participant
    David Thompson on #38750

    Hi there,

    While the workouts and exercises given in Josh’s intermediate plan can be tailored to the physical demands of your goal climbs, it would be difficult to become proficient in the technical demands that crack climbing requires without at least weekly exposure to a variety of cracks during the period between now and then. If you can somehow find a crag or two near home to practice with a curious partner your efforts will go a long way.

    Hope this helps.

    vik.waghray on #38751

    Hi David, thanks for the reply. I climb in the valley or other spots offering similar cragging opportunities nearly every weekend, so I’m able to get a good volume of real practice in quite often. My idea was to combine this time spent outside with a structured training plan for days I can’t get out to a crag (weekdays, essentially). I figured this would be a reasonable path to improvement, but would like to know whether there might be better ways to go about it.

    David Thompson on #38815

    Hi Vik,

    There are many exercises, drills, and other activities you can do in a climbing gym, standard gym, or at home during the week that will augment your weekend practice. If you are already getting a good volume of exposure to the demands of real rock on the weekends, it would be most advantageous and time efficient to work on identifying and targeting your weaknesses during the weekdays. They are the low hanging fruit that, when identified, produce the most durable gains in ability.

    vik.waghray on #39251

    That’s a good point, I will look to focus more on skill development and technique improvements during the week in between harder outdoor climbing on weekends.

    cblank on #39394

    I think some of the non purely physical performance training that could help out a LOT of people in both the Valley and in the Tuolumne/ High Sierras is efficiency. So many climbs/ objectives are much longer than anything else in the lower 48 outside of the PNW alpine, Tetons, Winds, and RMNP. So not only having things like belay changeovers fast, but being able to climb fast through sub 5.9 terrain is one of the best skills to have. So if you aren’t already good at running out sub 5.9 terrain that’s a good thing to train. That way for those harder alpine objectives you can have more time to burn on the hard pitches rather wasting it on the easy stuff before and after.

    To expand on the “get good at crack” message that everyone will tell you is getting good at weird and funky cracks is super helpful. There are tons of that terrain in the Sierras and that’s another thing that will help out. So climbing poorly rated stuff because it’s awkward is good training imo.

    psathyrella on #39449

    As others have pointed out, perhaps the biggest distinguishing feature of granite climbing is that you do more onsighting, so technique is a much bigger limiter than for typical sport or bouldering. Luckily this is more fun — it makes sense to spend more time climbing and less time training.

    A couple other things:
    – Granite is rarely steeper than vertical, so the holds are much smaller than the equivalent grade on other rock types or (most) gym climbs. It really helps to match this to your training, for instance the teensy holds on the rock prodigy forge hangboard (green) are much more appropriate for a granite focus than the RPTC (blue).
    – While granite very rarely involves either pockets or pinches, training these grips on a hangboard can have a huge effect on your granite onsight ability. Hand jamming uses essentially the same muscles as pinching, and tips laybacks and thin cracks/pin scars are very dependent on your ring-pinkie and middle-ring-pinkie pocket strength.

    vik.waghray on #39721

    thank you for the thoughtful responses, everyone!

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