Ways to build a climbing base without a rope

  • Creator
  • #8239
    Peter W


    I’m trying to build a base of climbing and approach fitness for some trips late this summer and fall. I’ve always been a strength/bouldering biased climber so I’m focusing on longer Z1 workouts with a pack and getting in a lot of volume climbing. Sadly, of my two most regular partners one is a lawyer whose caseload has increased a lot this spring and the other is in grad school and hard to make reliable day-to-day plans with. This has cut down on the frequency I’ve been able to rope up from 3-4 to 1-2 times a week.

    I’m still focusing on building my base and was wondering what the best ways to keep doing this are if I cant rope up as often. My gym can be used for some traversing early in the morning and also has a great bouldering area and system walls. For reference, i have a consistent onsight level around V5/V6 boulders and 5.11+ routes.

    I’ve been able to think of 4 ways to try to keep building my climbing base:
    1. Doing larger numbers of easy (1-2 grades below onsight and easier) boulder problems?
    2. After an extensive warm-up, doing a smaller number (10-20) of problems at or just below my onsight grade? I know this definitionally more of a ME workout but I feel like its usually built-up fatigue not a pump that limits these sessions.
    3. Tons of easy traversing when the gym is dead quiet in the mornings.
    4. Sadly, the easiest difficulty on the system boards seems to be too high for standard ARC sessions but works for 3-5min long “tempo-intensity” blocks.

    Just a function of holds in the gym it often feels like options 1 and 3 are bigger tests of skin than muscular endurance, at least without adding any additional weight.

    Any other thoughts or advice would be much appreciated. I feel like this is a problem a lot of climbers have at some point but I’ve never heard any real solutions tossed out there.

Posted In: Climbing

  • Participant
    Colin Simon on #8240

    The struggle is real. One of the gyms near me has a bunch of autobelay devices that allow you to run laps. When ARCing started catching on, they had too many people (myself included) starting to do 20-30minute sessions which frequently means 10+ laps. That really ticked off a lot of “normal” gym members, and now that gym has a policy of 2 laps maximum per autobelay.

    Ultimately, it seems like the best do it outside. Between Eldo and Red Rocks, Brad Gobright soloed thousands of pitches of 5.9 and under in just a few years before setting his crazy Nose record.

    One expensive option is to get a treadwall if you can’t find access to one.

    If all of those fail, it seems like your best bet is to double-down on skin care(the Anderson brothers book has quite a bit on that) and really execute the morning easy traversing sessions.

    Peter W on #9093

    I just wanted to say thanks for this Colin.

    The past month and a a half I’ve really been focused in on doing 2-3 2hr ARC sessions a week and have seen a notable improvement in my endurance. It’s rather boring (a good audiobook selection has helped) but the gains have been there. While I’ve lost a little power on the rock, by doing 2 hangboard sessions a week I havent seen the strength decreases that many complain about when ARCing.

    A key additional benefit is that I’m also feeling the least beat up I have felt in a long time even when averaging 12-15hrs of training a week.

    Steve House on #9174

    Colin-That’s tragically funny, I guess people do read these training articles! Bummer about the 2-lap max.

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