• A Tip For Improving Your Climbing

    I’m not a pro climber. Not a coach. Or a trainer. In fact, I’m a pretty mediocre climber by most standards. But, I do love it. And like many climbers, I wanted to get better.

    After my first year of dabbling in rock climbing (I was really into running that year, see also: this post), I started doing it more frequently.  I joined a gym (the awesome Spot bouldering gym), and tried to get outside a little.  I spent the next two years climbing well within my comfort zone. For me, that meant bouldering V0, an occasional V1, perhaps a poorly-graded V2, and sport climbing around 5.9. On a good day, I’d be able to finish a 10a or 10b with some falls or rests.

    I was content, but curious about how to get better.  I tried climbing more often, incorporating hangboard workouts, some more core workouts, cross training, … the list goes on but my dedication to training wasn’t always the greatest.  I’d certainly say that each of these may have contributed a little bit toward my improvement.  But there are apparently about 5,180,000 opinions on how to get better at rock climbing, and only one that I know worked for me.:


    Surround yourself with good friends who are also good climbers.

    That Flakes It Direct (V4)
    Sarah, a lesson in technique, on That Flakes It Direct (V4)



    For me, it appears to really be that simple. Over time, I’ve made really good friends with folks who also happen to be great climbers, both guys and gals.  My guy friends are strong and their ability to make big, powerful moves is inspirational. My gal friends are flexible and centered; their technique is incredible.  Then, there are the lucky few (both genders) who seem to have found a perfect balance between strength and technique. Watching them climb is like watching a dance performance. Precise. Calculated. Definitive.

    More important, though, than just watching and drawing inspiration from my strong friends,  is the fact that they are friends. Friends who encourage and support me, at all levels.  Over the last six or seven months, I’ve simply become more comfortable climbing as a direct result of their support. Struggling on a V0? They’ll cheer you on while they work their V9. Miss the hold on that 5.9? They’ll offer friendly advice after lowering from their 5.13 send.  There’s no judgement. No condescension. No gloating. We’re just friends, helping each other out at whatever level we find ourselves.


    Sword In The Stone (5.9)
    (The other) Josh, small frame and enormous strength, on Sword In The Stone (5.9)

    Spending the last half dozen months with these friends is unquestionably helping me climb harder. Spring has started turning to summer in Boulder and I’ve caught a few glimpses of what I hope is a new level of climbing. I like what I see, and I look forward to sharing my experiences in this new chapter.


    Strange Science (5.11b/c)
    Paul, fastest improvement I’ve seen yet, on Strange Science (5.11b/c)


    A version of this post first appeared on Josh’s personal blog, Adventures In Life.

    Josh Montague

    Keeping busy holding down the bottom end of the climbing-ability spectrum in the mecca of Boulder, CO. Somebody’s gotta make everyone else feel better…

    More PostsWebsiteTwitter

Discussion 5 Responses

  1. June 16, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Spot On Josh!

    The only reason it works for me too…great folks, great friends and great climbers…and above all great human beings…!
    They are the reason I am out there sending it one more than I did the last time…

  2. June 16, 2011 at 6:21 am

    I agree.  Climbing with strong folks will make you stronger.  Gets me psyched every time!

  3. June 20, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Recently, a couple strong friends of mine moved out west.  They were always super motivating and I climbed harder when they were around.  It’s amazing how psyched friends can instantly elevate you.

  4. June 20, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I’m glad you guys can relate! It can be a great incentive to go out and make new friends, too.

  5. December 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Whoa, outstanding blog page page layout! The span of time have you been blogs with regard to? you earn writing a blog seem straightforward. The total search of your website is spectacular, as well as the articles!

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.