What I Know About Training

When I started climbing, I was pretty much a regular bumbly.  I went through season after season of little to no improvement, without really understanding why.  Every time I flirted with a breakthrough I wound up injured and right back where I started.  I assumed that all those people climbing 5.12 or harder were simply genetically gifted, born with elite finger strength.  I was a pretty decent athlete.  I wrestled in high school, and made it to the Quarterfinals of the State Tournament my senior year, so I had a decent amount of upper body strength, good body control and balance.  I ran cross country and track in college.  I knew how to work hard, and how to follow a training program.  Yet when it came to climbing, my ceiling appeared to be mid-5.11.

Me as a bumbly, c. 1996

When I graduated from college I moved to Albuquerque, NM, and finally got my first climbing gym membership.  When I first entered the gym I struggled to climb V1 boulder problems, but after a few weeks I was shooting up the grade scale.  I remember how proud I was to climb my first V4, then a V6, then POP!  There went the A2 Pulley in my left ring finger.  Hmm, a minor setback, but I was young and my body healed quickly.  Three months later I was back at it, another V6 in the bag.  One day I went to repeat the problem just for fun.  POP!  There went the A2 Pulley in my right ring finger.  Bummer.  That summer, the same story again.  I worked my butt off to get back to where I was, and then seemingly without warning I re-injured my left ring finger. 

Finger strength is less of an issue now:

Enough was enough.  I had never been so frustrated.  Three consecutive seasons ending in serious injury.  On the advice of my brother Mike, I picked up a copy of Dale Goddard & Udo Neumann’s “Performance Rock Climbing”.  I read it cover to cover in no time flat.  The metaphors in the book spoke perfectly to me.  This is what I was searching for.  Long story short, in the ten years since I first began following the concepts in that book I’ve gone from a limit of 5.12a to 5.14c.  From three pulley tears in a little over one year to zero in over ten years of doing moves much harder than those that previously resulted in injury.

That’s not to say I haven’t had setbacks; I’ve had plenty, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount in the process.  But the point is, I’m not a genetic freak.  I didn’t climb 5.13 when I was nine years old or go from zero to 5.14 in less than a year.  I have a good work ethic, but basically I was a pretty average climber for a long time.  Then I started training.  I didn’t become an expert overnight, but with a lot of trial and error, a lot of research and networking, I’ve learned a tremendous amount, and the results of these efforts have far exceeded my wildest expectations.  Many others have had similar results.  I personally know three other climbers that have elevated their game from Gumby-hood to 5.14 following the same basic program that I follow, and many, many others that have made it to 5.13.  It takes some time, some hard work, and perhaps some sacrifice, but I believe firmly that any climber willing to put forth the effort can see huge improvements with the proper guidance.  I hope to share some of that insight here, and if you’re willing to give it a shot, I think you will be happy with the results.

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Welcome to my Blog!

I avoided the siren’s call to create a blog for many years, but now that blogging is passe, it seems like the appropriate moment for me to jump on the bandwagon.  Hopefully the climbing community will find this page useful. 

About My Blog

My intention is to cover three main topics: 1) Strategies and methods for training to maximize climbing performance, 2) My random thoughts about any and all things climbing related, be it “style”, “ethics”, what’s hot, what’s not, cool new crags, products etc., and 3) Obligatory spray (bragging about my personal climbing accomplishments).  If I’m lucky, I will accomplish these three goals and provide the reader with the occasional laugh at the same time. 

The Lazy H Barn

Why “Lazy H Climbing Club”? I’m fortunate to live in an amazing little spot in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, just west of Denver, Colorado.  We have a 2.5 acre lot that came with a small, delapidated barn.  The barn had the name “Lazy H” scrawled across the top in wooden cut-out letters.  My first order of business when we moved in was to convert the Lazy H into a miniature climbing gym. Hence the name.

Inside the renovated Lazy H

About  Me

For those that don’t know me, I’ve been a climber for about 20 years or so.  I enjoy all forms of climbing, and I’ve been pretty successful at every type of climbing I’ve pursued.  As an alpinist I’ve climbed Denali’s Cassin Ridge, Devil’s Thumb, and the Greenwood-Locke on Mt. Temple’s North Face.  In the realm of Trad climbing I’ve freed Yosemite’s El Capitan, and climbed numerous 5.13s.  As a sport climber I’ve redpointed 5.14c and on-sighted 5.13b. 

My 15 minutes of fame, after completing the First Free Ascent of Zion’s Spaceshot (IV, 5.13a) with my brother Mike.

 Despite these statistics, I’m pretty much a “regular Joe”.  I have a beautiful wife (Kate), a 14-month-old son (Logan), a mortgage and a 40-hour-a-week desk job.  I love climbing, but I also love having the things that most “normal” folks enjoy.  I love the NFL (Go Bears!), I watch network sitcoms, and I destroyed the competition in the College Football pick ’em contest at work.  I’m an avid cyclist, having ridden the entire Oregon Coast and, my proudest cycling feat, pedaled from my house to the summit of Mt Evans (14K+’ of climbing, 90 miles, round trip).  How have I managed to balance my personal life with my climbing career?  Hopefully this blog will help shed some light on that subject.  If you have any specific questions regarding training or tactics, please don’t hesitate to ask.  It always helps to get some feedback on what your audience is looking for.

Happy reading!

Mark Anderson

At Shelf Road with Logan.