When I was first getting started in rock climbing, I was lucky enough to have a few good mentors. I also took what technique classes I could from different rock gyms in and around Denver. Both were helpful.
But, when learning from fellow climbers, much of it can be considered ‘Bro-learning’, which most of the time is what works well, and is the standard. Later I’ve found that some of the bro-tips and way of doing things were more specific to that particular climber, but sometimes was even an out-dated method, or even downright wrong.
Another thing is that when you go out climbing with someone, they may not be suited to teach – perhaps they have difficulty explaining how to do something, or just saying, “Just go up!” I’ve encountered that more times than I can remember, sometimes said jokingly, sometimes with frustration.
Your partner may also just want to climb. Teaching climbing can be a drag, and I’ve heard more than one person avoid newbies, limited to leading easy pitches, and supervising the newbies safety called ‘babysitting.’
I get it.
After learning how to climb with partners, classes and YouTube, one of the best ways I’ve found is through a good video training course. And the climbing techniques DVD I like the best is:
The reason I like this set is that Neil very lucidly explains the route problem and the technique that solves it, and then demonstrates both the right and wrong way of doing overcoming the problem.
The other thing I like about this series is that explains certain techniques in a way that I’ve never encountered before – even in one-on-one training. You can tell he’s thought through the concepts, as well as the best way to explain the how’s and why’s of doing the technique a certain way.
For example, I really didn’t understand the reason for using a front-flag – seemed more trouble than what it was worth. But the way he discusses balance, moving the leg in opposition to the hand and how it extended the body length – was where the lightbulb went off!
With a live class, you can only ask classes in the moment – as it occurs to you. But you don’t have anything on hand to review the lessons learned. With a DVD you can just pop it in and watch it again – to remind and reinforce the situations where one would use a particular technique.
Masterclass Part 2: Skills and Tactics for Sport and Trad Climbing: Improve Your Climbing with Neil Gresham
Part 2 gets into more advanced concepts such as deadpointing, roofs and trad techniques. Also a very good DVD climbing techniques series to have on hand.
I pop both of these DVDs in to watch, or reinforce a particular technique. I find that I can get sloppy after climbing on my own, overcoming routes with strength rather than technique. But technique can make the impossible possible. More routes can be climbed at strength because climbing with good technique is climbing efficiently.
Style, as Neil says, is important in climbing, as it helps a person climb more easily, and with grace. In Part 2, for example, he shows an example of himself climbing a roof which to untrained eyes may look correct – hey he made it to the top, right?
Compare his sloppy technique with another climber, Gabby, who demonstrates how to climb a roof in an energy efficient manner that harbors your energy by using straight arms, squatting at rest, heel hooks and making the turn of the roof without an unnecessary dyno.
I recommend adding both DVDs to your climbing videos collection. They are both worth the price you pay in explaining and demonstrating rock climbing tips and techniques in an easy to understand manner. Highly recommended!
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