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WG Note–I wrote this a while back, feel it again now, so it’s going up:
The last week has been high-speed. Articles, coaching, home, life, kid, the backlog of travel-delayed work etc, there just wasn’t a lot of time to get outside and huck a lung. The first few days of low activity were voluntary, I was just plain worn out after Helmcken and the Knucklebasher comp, and then life started conspiring against getting out for an aerobic burn. I tried once, but felt like my feet were lead… I’m old enough to know when I’m over-trained and just over-done; I needed to rest so I could focus and give energy to what was important, especially coaching and home life, but without an aerobic burn junk accumulates in my body and mind like creosote in a chimney when the fire isn’t burning hot enough.
Yesterday I spent pretty much all day in Ikea with my kid; she loves it there, but I’m pretty sure that place is some sort of cynical Swedish mind-fuck program with researchers lurking in the ceiling to see what men will do when pushed too far in a frilly environment. Finally drove back to town, it was later than it should have been, and I was getting more ornery by the minute. As darkness loomed I threw my skis in the car, downed a little silver and blue can, and headed for the Canmore nordic centre.
iPod on, not something I normally do, but I wanted full zone-out. Old Sisters of Mercy, Kid Rock, Minor Threat, Rage, and rage I did. For 90 minutes I was unstoppable. When the playlist ended I realized my pulse rate was insanely high, but I’d held it that high for well over an hour without even thinking about. On some of the steep hills at the Nordic Centre my main goal is often to just keep moving; last night I stabbed the snow with the poles hard enough to hear the carbon flex, and as Henry Rollins sung, “Inhale power, exhale force,” I exhaled plastic Ikea junk out of my pores and inhaled clean oxygen. Inhale another ten feet of hill, exhale frustration with people leaving carts in the middle of the goddamn aisle so they can look at Bjornphalluses. Inhale motion, exhale stagnation.
As twilight faded to black I skied with full abandon back down the turns to my car, on the edge of crashing but looking forward to the icy cold of the snow on my face if I did. It would have been prudent to slow down; I poled as hard as I could anytime that looked to be happening. A friend of mine talks about becoming an animal when he’s outside. He’s right.
I share this with you as a reminder that there is not much in life that can’t be made better by going outside and breathing hard. Sometimes we all need a good chimney fire.
On Saturday EJ and I returned from Helmcken Falls. Tim Emmett had to head out a day early due to slideshow obligations in the UK, but we all had at the climbing there for another few days. The stoke level is high!
Tim wrapped in from the lip of the falls to see if the “ice” on the headwall was climbable. This year it isn’t, mostly snow, but I’ve seen photos from years where it is. EJ and I bolted sideways for another 30 feet on the headwall before the spray pattern changed, and we had to bail before turning into a long-term feature on the wall. Tim redpointed pitch 4 and said, “I spent $1000 and four days of my life to change my tickets for this trip. That pitch was totally worth it!,” And, “This is how BASE jumping used to make me feel.” EJ worked the first pitch and said, “This is the best climbing ever. Dude.”
I can talk about how good the climbing is forever, but their comments sum it up for me. The ice climbing in the Helmcken Falls cave is just over the top brilliantly good. On the last day EJ and I opened two short “practice” routes on the spray, “Dora the Explorer” and “Sabre.” One is a rampy 3+ sorta thing, the other a Haffner-sized WI4 fun ride that goes directly up to the same anchor. I only give grades to encourage those who don’t climb M10 or harder to visit the cave; there is opportunity for everyone who can handle the high-risk environment. Both the “easy” routes would make any ice climber smile for the day.
I’m now firmly convinced that grades on ice in general and at the Helmcken cave specifically are irrelevant. If you want to climb WIxx it’s there; but a few pillars might grow that would allow no-hands rests, and it would be WIx… Horizontal ice climbing is about like horizontal drytooling, but with more technical feet, movement, and of course it’s ice so you either have to swing or use hooks in the ice like any other route. Placements rip, it takes all the skills of normal ice climbing and the power of hard drytooling. The biggest thing I learned on the last trip is that at the “difficulty” end of the ice climbing spectrum is a return to the novice days of ice climbing: it’s about the experience, the place, the movement. I know our route is way, way harder than anything I’ve ever climbed on ice, but harder routes are of course possible, and next year Spray On could be littered with pillars that would make it easier, but no less fun. And a harder route that didn’t follow cool features just wouldn’t really be any cooler… Grades are useful for rock, but for ice climbing beyond about grade 4 they are somewhere between annoying and irrelevant. Take a look at the photo, climb it or don’t. Like surfing, kayaking, skiing, or skateboarding, it’s all about the moves, the scene, your friends, life, fun, stuff that grades just don’t measure. So, I’m done rating any ice climb after grade 4 with numbers. Words, sure–thin, hard, steep, bad gear, good gear, you can do it, you should maybe do something less serious, but not numbers. Helmcken just blew the building up that contained all the ice grading ego BS; it’s harder than all of us, ha ha!
On our route (Spray On) you climb the first pitch, pull the rope through, your belayer walks out across the floor of the cave, climb the second pitch’s horizontal roof, your belayer walks out across the floor of the cave again, drop the rope, repeat. Each pitch ends in a place where you can get a solid no-hands rest; the 3d climbing and ice features require relatively short pitches for rope drag and safety. After four pitches the rope is 30+ horizontal meters out from where you started, but you’re only 35 meters off the deck! It’s madness. Some pitches could be linked. With three or four ropes, a whack of slings and some jiggery you could maybe do the whole thing in one massive pitch, but would it be more or less fun? Harder? Better just climb!
There are hundreds of routes to do down there. It was raining and plus 5 when we left so there’s likely not ice much left for this year, but come next year we’ll be there. Other people are going to visit the place too I hope, so I’d like to offer a short set of observations we’ve found useful:
-Don’t leave quickdraws or any gear on the wall, or permanent fixed lines on the route or raps on the way in (leave ‘em in there for your trip, just not when you leave). This stuff is invisible from the viewpoint or anywhere else, but a few people do walk in there in the summer. With added traffic low-visibility should be a focus. Downclimb pitches so there’s nothing on the anchors, etc… This adds work, but is important I think. I would regard leaving gear in there for the summer as a serious failing on the part of any climber. What we’re doing is the same as climbing anywhere in a park so no legal issues, just using the best visual style and lowest impact on other users. Although the main complaint so far has been that we’re near-impossible to see from the rim where we’re climbing, ha ha!
-The whole place is hazardous. You can get complacent about standing under many-ton icicles, but someone is going to get hurt or killed down there, and evacuation will be an adventure. I’m in full “alpine” mode down there; what’s happening with the temperature, where is the spray forming new ice, can the cone break off (generally it breaks off to the OUTSIDE), and if so will the car-sized blocks get to us, etc. It takes a few days to start to understand the place at all. Even the five-minute walk to the back of cave (no lie–that’s how long it takes to get there from the trees!) could be lethal if you slid down the ice and into a crevasse. This isn’t Haffner, it’s more like climbing big alpine faces in terms of environmental hazard.
-If the temperature in there goes much above freezing for even a few hours you need to walk out the long way or risk getting smushed. The ice doesn’t have the same insulation characteristics as fat water ice and will fall off the roof sooner. Beware.
-Spray ice is weaker than full-water ice, and breaks in odd ways. It only takes a whack from a tool to rip a 40-foot dagger, and that dagger can start other daggers ripping. Rope management is critical; never have your rope running under a big ice feature, even one that seems solid. I’ve broken out desk-sized blocks I was sure were solid… Putting up new routes is a battle of epic, epic proportions due to not only the angle but also the ice cleaning etc. Some days in the horizontal roof we would only gain about 20 feet for a day’s effort. It’s worth it, just work.
-The Helmcken Falls Lodge runs a winter special for $120 that includes a room with two beds, two breakfasts, two good dinners, and lots of great hospitality. That’s only $60/person for a warm, nice room only 15 minutes from the falls. The owners are good people too, and have really helped us out over the last two seasons, say hello and treat them well ’cause if you go there once you’re going to be going back a fair amount I bet…
We’re done for the season, but game on for next year. A metal detector will be required to find our old bolts (even some on the upper pitch were getting covered with a light frosting when we left). We’ll put up some topos and tricks for finding the base of Spray On (Dora and Sabre should be easy to find every year, far side of the cave)
Helmcken Rematch: Tim walked the 1.5 hours into the top, wrapped in to see if the white stuff was ice, it wasn’t, back out with a monster pack, good effort Tim! EJ and I re-rigged the first five pitches, which have not gotten any easier but still have good ice to climb. Tomorrow we add to the route, likely another amazing pitch or two before the turns to frost. Do not want to drytool higher, plus there’s the small matter of actually climbing all the pitches! Might start another line or two if we have time, this place is just awesome!
It’s a hell of a lot of effort to just get back to our high point. Normally I’d take a rest day tomorrow, but game on! When the ice is good you gotta go at it.
If you have a Plice that you can tilt the following workout is pretty darn fun. All laps start with the heads of your tools 48 inches off the ground or less, butt, one pullup with a lock at the top. This is roughly the same amount of effort required to climb the five pitches we’ve done so far at Helmcken. And we’re heading back today to try and get higher…
Helmcken Falls Workout
Approach: 50 squats with a 1/4 bodyweight PACK, 50 push press w/ 1/4 bodyweight, deadlift 1/2 bodyweight 50 times. Now yer warm, loose and have a slight pump in your forearms.
Chop wood for five minutes, wheelbarrow and stack. (substitute row 500M if you don’t have wood to chop. No rower, ground to rack clean the deadlift bar 20 times).
-6x 30 degree Plice, full solid lockoffs every reach for first three laps.
-20 Knees to Elbows.
Chop Wood for five minutes.
-2x 45 Plice, two figure 4s per side per up lap.
Chop wood for five minutes
Pitch Three (continuous)
-1 x45 Plice all campus
-1×45 Plice all Figure Fours
-20 Front levers to best of ability, done straight through.
Chop wood Ten minutes
6×30 plice, campus first lap.
Chop wood ten minutes.
4X30 Plice with a 20 Lb Pack.
20 negative Front Levers.
Finish chopping wood for 15 minutes.
That’ll be all.
Ice climbing is far more mental than rock climbing, and I mean that both in the sense of, “It’s mental mate!” and that ice climbing puts more of a load on the brain. This does not mean ice climbers are smarter than rock climbers obviously… Here are a few brief tricks I’ve found useful for leading ice.
Be a better climber on toprope than you’ll ever have to be on lead.
If you can hike any piece of vertical water ice on the planet on a toprope then you’re not going to be losing it too much leading a 70-degree pillar. Put another way, be better in training than you’ll have to be in combat, ’cause I can guarantee you that you will NOT perform better under pressure than you will in training, at least in any sport that requires fine coordination like climbing. Running or other aerobic sports maybe, but if you haven’t trained to an appropriate level then you won’t perform well in competition. And your training had better look like a performance day; lifting in in the gym will not make you a better athlete unless you can use that strength…
In rock climbing the solution to most pumpy, difficult situations is to simply try harder and keep moving. I watch rock climbers on ice do this all the time; most ice climbs just aren’t all that steep, even the “grade 6!” hype. Stop. Put both tools in. Get some good feet. Shake out. Stem a bit. As the pump drains your mind will open up. Put in a screw. If you’re really messed up clip a quickdraw into your belay loop and put the biner on the BOTTOM of the handle, either through the hole or over the pommel. Rest. Once you’re mentally back in control start climbing again. It’s actually the swinging that is the pumpiest thing about fresh steep ice climbing, if you just slow down and focus on finding either a natural rest or one on your tools then life will be far better.
Climb down two feet.
I’ve watched leaders turn into mental gerbils while wrestling with a tough bit of climbing when all they had to do was climb down two feet to a rest and look at the situation from a slightly different viewpoint.
Don’t start until you can see it.
Look at the climb. Figure out where you’ll start swinging, where you’ll get a screw, how you’ll pull the bulge, where you’ll belay, what the tough bit is likely to be and how you’ll deal with it, how many screws/slings you’ll need, how you’ll climb, etc. Then close your eyes and run the climb in your head. If you can see yourself doing it all then you will. If you can’t figure it out. Have a couple of plans about how you’re going to deal with the ice; “If that’s bad I’m going right, but if it’s good I’m going right over the top.”
No matter what sport you do the person doing more of that sport will likely be better at it than the person who does less of it… Ice climbing is hard to do a lot of unless you live near the ice, but there’s no other way to get comfortable than to climb a lot of it. A two-week trip will likely make you a far better ice climber than 10 days spread out over two seasons…
And some other stuff, but I gotta go now. Give ‘er!
This is going out from the Tim Hortons in Salmon Arm, BC, sorry for the junk show layout and bad grammar but the word was out, and I wanted to post Pondella’s photos of Tim Emmett and me and some words. Yeah!
I am sure of little in life, but of this I am sure: The Helmcken Falls spray ice cave is absolutely the wildest, best, most insane ice climbing area I’ve ever seen. It is going to be a destination for some, but it’s a journey, sort of like chasing waves off-shore or climbing in the Himalaya. It won’t be for everyone, but it sure is good!
From January 16 to 25th this year, Tim Emmett
and I worked hard on continuing our route from last year, Spray On. The couple who run the Helmcken Falls Lodge
, Andrew and Lynn, were sending me photos of the 400-foot cave behind the waterfall starting in December; as soon as we saw a reasonable amount of white in the photos Tim and I cancelled all plans, blew off the O.R. trade show, work, and anything that was tying us down to head for the falls.
We found a vastly different scene than last year; more ice, a glacier the size of a couple of city blocks complete with crevasses we had to rope up for (and then fix lines across, a first for me), and a whole lotta spray ice! Somehow in my memory I had convinced myself that the first couple of hundred feet of climbing weren’t too overhanging, but I was really wrong about that–the first 60 feet are only overhanging at about 30 to 45 degrees (the floor of the ice cave is about 30 feet higher than last year so the first pitch was shorter), but then the climbing goes horizontal in this weird 3D upside down icicle forest for a 150 plus feet. And it all went free, on ice, with only two drytool moves! It is just so good.
We broke the climbing up into five relatively short pitches due to the crazy upside down nature of the climbing, and also for safety–huge chunks of ice on the roof can rip, and you just don’t want them landing on your rope or you, you’d be a human squeegee, not good. Almost all the protection is bolts; the ice will sort of hold a Spectre but it’s just too soft for screws, and it’s compact lava flow rock so not much if any opportunity for natural gear even if you could find a crack. I brought snow pickets to try them out, but the results were not encouraging.
In the end we made it through about 250 feet of climbing, and called it good when the temperatures warmed up dramatically and the warm temps started a several local icicle carpet bombing campaign. We ran.
We were able to find all of our bolts from last year; the spray ice tends to form in roughly the same places, and we had bolted where there was little ice. But, and I’m still laughing about this, I had bought a metal detector at Canadian Tire (“What are you mainly interested in? Finding old jewelry or something?” asked the sales guy. “Something like that,” I answered, “Under ice.”). The metal detector was an integral part of the rack, and will be for future ascents. The ice will be different every season, but it will share common features and lines; solving the problem of how to find bolts every year was a good step forward. And there are a lot of lines to do. A lot.
A lot of the trip was taken up with cleaning icicles and bolting on lead. This was torturous work; if someone asked me to do that sort of work for money I probably wouldn’t do it. But for this amazing climbing? Yeah, we were up for it.
At the start of the mixed explosion 15 years ago Jeff Lowe and I did a route in Glenwood Canyon, Deep Throat, that was like a throat filled with icicle teeth…. At the time we dreamed of a massive cave filled with the teeth that went on for hundreds of feet. The dream is real. Tim and I made it out of the cave and onto the much easier headwall, and to the top of the best-looking ice. If it gets cold again and the ice reforms we’re going back next week to push on with our route, but it’s also fine as it is, and ends at a logical place. It might be possible to combine some of the pitches and that would be cool. We team-freed the route, with both of us doing pitches 1 and 2, Tim pitch 3, and I enjoying 4 and 5. Better style is possible; both of us going bottom to top would be better for starters, but it was a team effort and we’re happy with that for now.
The grade? We keep getting emails asking that, and here’s the only answer we’re going to give: Take a look at the pictures. Read this and Tim’s story. What do you think? Ice climbing is like waves to me, an aesthetic and beautiful experience more than a grade. The holds on a rock climb stay the same more or less, but an ice climb is always different. Take a look at the pictures, listen to the stories, enjoy the show, go climbing there, do both, do neither, but there’s something for everyone in that cave, even if it’s just looking at it from the viewpoint. Helmcken Falls is awesome.
The Reel Rock crew
came along and took some video (nice work on dodging the icicles boys!), and my friend Christian Pondella
shot these stills, thanks to them and Tim, yeah!!
WG, on the drive back to Canmore after a great week, and now amped on a Honey Cruller and a double double.
January 27th note: And here’s a photo from Tim of the metal detector tech we used, it worked!
The last two weeks have been higher speed than usual. Travel, prep, closed roads, full chaos, but Tim Emmett and I have now been at the Helmcken Falls Lodge for five days, and climbing every day. So far the climbing has consisted of super technical radically overhanging ice action to just get a line of gear out the cave. Yeah, CAVE!
We’re bolting ground-up ’cause it’s too steep to rap, and there would just be no way to find the line from above. It’s just nuts, insert expletives here. And we haven’t even climbed anything new, just worked and worked. Each time one of us comes down after a bolting session we’re just done mentally and physically, battered and bruised and stomped upon by falling icicles
The icicles in Christian Pondella’s
photo above are anywhere from ten to 50 feet in length. The snow cone is at least 100 feet high. We had to rope up to cross the crevasses, that’s how big it all is in there, the scale is just mind-bending. If it gets too warm we’re done without climbing anything, but the temperatures are holding, we found last year’s bolts under the ice, and it’s all ON! We start really climbing tomorrow, but realistically have another two days of prep to get to the top of the ice. Yesterday we sent down tons and tons of icicles, and yet you can’t even see where we’ve climbed unless you’re looking at just the right angle.
Seldom have I ever been involved with a route that feels so far out there. Icicles, rock, angles, crevasses? But one thing is for sure: We’re exactly where we want to be, have received far more than we dreamed of, and are totally stoked to be doing our best. You don’t get too many times like that in life really, yeah! Upward.
-Carry more “short” ice screws. The standard rack here in the Rockies used to be a batch of 21cm or longer screws. Now the vast majority of my screws are 13cm, with a few stubbies if needed and one 21cm screw for V or A threads (I don’t think it matters much which one you use really). Clear the surface ice to get to good ice and a 13cm BD is as strong as a longer screw or close enough it doesn’t matter
. Longer screws tend to hit rock and are then ever the same again; it’s far better to use a “too short” screw than one that’s too long. If I could only have one screw size it would be the 13cm.
-Dig hard to get to good ice for screws. A few days ago I set up a belay in a spot where a lot of other people had done the same; in my opinion almost every screw at that belay station was junk, I broke an “onion” skin off that was 15 cm thick and riddled with holes. In my view many if not most ice climbers don’t do enough clearing to get good screws, especially at belays. This is likely what led to a recent situation where three of the four ice screws in the system blew.
Clear yer ice, get something undeniably solid or don’t bother with the screw.
-Push on the ice with both your hand on your lower tool and by taking your hand off the tool and pushing on the ice to balance, just like rock. I do this a lot, it’s intuitive now, but as I teach and coach I remember it’s not obvious until it’s learned. The long head of my triceps always gets sore from pushing when climbing ice, along with the lats… If you think about rock climbing you’ll probably remember all the pushing you do to move up, not just the pulling. Ice is the same, if one hand is pulling the other is pushing on the lower tool or ice…
-Good rock climbers can learn to climb ice a lot faster than good ice climbers can learn to climb rock. I attribute this to the fact that rock climbers already have the fitness, and just require motion training, while most ice climbers are relatively weak. But, while a rock climber can learn to get up about any ice climb in a season or two, just getting up a climb does not mean doing it well. I have seen reasonably competent rock climbers move with glacial speed on what for a good ice climber is 5.5 terrain. I think the real artistry and style of ice climbing is not in just getting up a pitch, but doing so quickly and securely. It’s like running–anyone can run a mile, but it’s another thing to do it in under five minutes… I would rather see someone climbing well below their max but in total control than someone pushing it on ice, not worth it.
-I’m seeing more and more people top-roping and working on their skills in Haffner and other places. This is great!
-If you don’t have a good placement don’t pull up on it. The situation will not improve. Make good placements, which are pretty much always possible. I see so many climbers get shallow placement and then pull up on it anyhow, which leads them to place the second tool at the same level as the poor placement.
-Don’t yell “ICE!” unless things are getting really western and someone is clearly in danger. This isn’t sport climbing, ice is going to fall off all the time, and the shout of “ice” loses its effectiveness rapidly if everyone is yelling ice for every little bit of falling water.
I’ve been out whacking icicles, dirt and rocks a lot the last few weeks, finally seeing some decent performance gains. My real fitness level likely hasn’t changed more than a few percent in the last couple of weeks after the training base I laid down (I managed to train on the broken finger, but that delayed its healing some) over the last few months, but I’m climbing a ton better. Why?
Because most of the initial rapid gains that occur in the gym or in the real world aren’t due to strength development but to better movement patterns, better muscle recruitment and more confidence. If you’re an athlete who has taken a break for whatever reason and come back to the sport, even years later, you can get back to your top ability relatively quickly if you haven’t gained 50 pounds and/or turned into a complete slob. This is more true for technique sports (climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing, anything fun) than more pure endurance sports (road biking and road running, anything involving Lycra and toxic levels of repetitive suffering), but for all these sports the road back to performing well is a lot faster than pure physiological improvement would indicate.
Even on a “pure strength” movement like the bench press the athlete who has bench pressed at least his or her own bodyweight will get back to that level a lot quicker from the same relative fitness level than the novice who has never benched. Old-time coaches used to call this “muscle memory,” and while muscles don’t remember anything it’s still a decent term compared to the fancy sounding “neurological recruitment.” So my gains are less due to an improving fitness level than to having done a lot of work in the past, and now reactivating that mothballed programming.
This relates to New Year’s in the following manner: If you were once any good at something and make a resolution to get better at it again then you can, and faster than you thought possible. Those years of training and conditioning are still in there; gains will be speedy! Of course you’ll plateau eventually, but the barrier to getting truly good again at something you once loved is lower than many think. The pain level, on the other hand, is just as high as ever.
And Happy New Year!
Photo to left is of a cool “Plice” (is it a plice if it has ice?) from my bud Tom Comet. And someone needs to tell me how to put photos where I want ‘em…
The Christmas tree is already showing signs of pine needle exfoliation, the sun doesn’t come up until 8:30, there are beer bottles in the streets every morning and my liquor cabinet is stripped almost bare. It must be the week between Christmas and New Year, which is often a great week for ice here in the Canadian Rockies
if it isn’t -30. Temps are actually great, lots of friends rattling around, Happy Ice Season to everyone!
Some things to think about relating to training:
Range of Motion: You get what you train.
A few weeks ago I was in Bozeman, Montana and hit a local gym because I had no ice tools, no clothes beyond what I was wearing (thanks United!), and it was too late to scrounge. I note why I was in a gym because going to the gym in Bozeman is silly in the middle of ice season, go climbing already! But in the gym was a guy doing “pullups” by jumping up onto the bar and flexing his shoulders back and forth for ten “reps” at a go. I counted. I couldn’t help myself, I asked him if he wanted to do some pullups, next thing he knew I had his feet and he was busting out legit pullups with a bit of a push from his feet. I’m a complete freak for grabbing his feet, but damn, a pullup starts with the arms straight and finishes with your clavicle nearly hitting the bar, elbows behind your front ribs. And full range of motion is not just getting your chin above the bar or bouncing your chest off the bar like a spastic, it’s getting your Adam’s apple (or equivalent) above the horizontal plane of the bar and at least breaking the vertical plane of the bar with your entire chin, not the dimple on the front of it. If you’re a climber I think it’s important to lock that top position for a brief moment, especially if you’re an ice climber.
One of the best things I’ve learned through Crossfit is how to scale pretty much any exercise to get full or as close to full range of motion as possible. Doing one full “ROM” rep of any exercise is far, far superior to ten “fakie” reps. A good strong set of full ROM reps done with assistance are 1,000 times more useful than one “fakie” rep done without help. Use bands, use a friend, use the fancy anti-gravity machine, but for God’s sake do a real full ROM pullup! Being mentally lazy in the gym will lead to mental laziness in life. STFU and do the full ROM or you’ll get no respect from me or yourself, and you know it.
A quick note on “kipping” pullups
: Crossfit popularized these, and they kick ass in general. I’ve seen many people who couldn’t do one pullup learn how to do tons of ‘em using this technique. But many kipping pullupers fall far short of full ROM, and the full kipping motion may be less useful to climbers if there isn’t a brief pause or at least control over the bar. I did a lot of kipping pullups last year and found my lockoff strength collapsed compared to doing “normal” pullups. I now use momentum as I fully buy that theory, but try to get and maintain control over the bar, and keep active, engaged shoulders at the bottom of the pullup. Edit–the main site WODs have had a fair amount of weighted and “chest to bar” pullups in the last while, I think that would address the weak lock off issue that can come with kipping pullups. I just noted that today’s workout has L-sit pullups, you can’t kip those, that’s a nasty workout!
We tilted the plice back to between 30 and 45 degrees overhanging. This is stellar training for both mixed climbing, and radically overhanging ice climbing, which is the current obsession that I’m training for. I can handle day on, day off on the plice, it’s more than enough! Here are a few “fun” workouts we’ve been playing with, useful for working in groups or just keeping the motivation high:
Do a plice lap every minute for as many minutes as you can keep it up. Mentally as well as physically painful. If your plice is vertical either tilt it back a bit or add a pack with 1/4 your bodyweight in it, that’ll make it hard enough that a lap every minute will be an adventure.
If you’re working out with more people add more exercises. We’ve been doing a plice lap, then ring dips, then air squats, then back into the plice. Or thrusters, or deadlifts, whatever. Resting is useful for pure power training, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that resting is a waste of time in general when training for sport… Lots in that idea, but rest for power, go the rest of the time. Except when doing the long slow distance sessions. One of the reasons I think specificity counts in training is that “training” is a massively broad idea. Like writing, or engineering, you need to know what you’re trying to do, but somehow people think one form of “training” is going to do it for them. “I do TRX.” “I do Crossfit.” “I do XXXX” Cool, but the definition of what you do is not in the training but in the action, not in the gym but in the real world.
Tabata Training on ice tools:
Get one of those Tabata apps for your phone (one with sound so you don’t have to look at it), hang your ice tool over a tree branch, whatever, hang one-handed for 20 seconds, rest ten, repeat on the same hand eight times. This is so much fun… If you can’t hang on one hand use two. I ripped this idea off Crossfit too, tons of fun protocols on there for your own training. I don’t follow the mainsite WODs at all this time of year, but my training is heavily influenced by the ideas there, plus info from many other sources. Use what works, leave the dogma in the sweat pool.
Right, time to go climbing!