Monday, May 21, 2012

Outdoor Courses: Level 1 & 2

I held my first outdoor climbing courses for the season this past weekend (19./20. May).  The program is part of the four-level outdoor course series for the Kletterhalle Salzburg / denkundstein. The level 1 course focused on climbing technique and transitioning from the climbing gym to real rock.  The focus of the level 2 course was learning all the necessary rope technique for single-pitch sport climbing.

Outdoor Level 1, Gaisberg, 19.05.2012

Outdoor Level 2, Rif, 20.05.2012

Thanks to all the motivated course participants who made the two days very enjoyable!  Click on the slide shows to access the photo albums and download pictures.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Kalymnos 2012

I will be in Kalymnos for the eighth(!!!) time this August and September 2012.  I will be giving two-weeks of structured climbing courses and be avalible at other times for personal training.  I am already thinking about it and looking forward to focusing on sport climbing in a carefree, holiday-like atmosphere.

Here's the promo video for The North Face climbing festival scheduled for the end of September 2012.  The transplanted English climber (he's now living in Innsbruck) James Pearson, sums up nicely what makes Kalymnos so attractive.

Monday, May 7, 2012

April Training Record

April was a month of predominately sport climbing.  I had planned to be in Chamonix for the first part of the month, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate with my plans.  The weather was not really good in the Salzburg area either, so I was indoors in the gym and at sport climbing crags.

On the positive side, I sent four new 7a's in a relatively short time and flashed 2 6c's.  This confirms that my improvements in body composition and mental determination are starting to take effect.

April Totals
72 hours of training in month (actual time) / 18 hours of training per week
7,174 meters of elevation gain in month / 1,793.5 m per week
36 training sessions in month
2 rest/recovery days & 2 very long work days of <12 hours
weight = 70.1 kg., body fat at 10.4%, resting heart rate = 42, body mass index = 21.60

Endurance training activities included ski touring, trail running, mountain biking and hiking.  Sport specific training involved indoor & outdoor sport climbing, bouldering, weight training, circuit training, fingerboard, mobility & flexibility, alpine off-piste skiing and some sprinting intervals.

I have been focusing on food and nutrition for the last couple of weeks.  I have set guidelines of trying to eat enough protein at around 140-150 grams per day and keep my carbohydrate intake to between 50 and 100 grams per day.  I also have introduced periods of fasting and training while in a fasted state.  Occasionally I keep my total calorie intake to below 1,750 calories per day.

My goal with this nutritional focus is to rid my body of some of its last belly fat and get down to a set weight of 66 to 68 kgs.  To climb and perform at a higher level, I want my body mass index  between 20 and 21.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

We all just want to be big rock stars

Spring is here and it's time to get out of the climbing gym start pulling on real rock!  I like hanging out with climbers who are fun, positive, want to improve and train hard.  I also am always searching for information that I can use to get better.

Here’s a great post from Sonnie Trotter’s

“About 12 years ago, I recall a day in Utah with my friend Dave Graham, a phenom climber who was making quick work of all the hardest routes in Hell Cave, including Ice Cream, 5.14c (8c-8c+).  When we climbed at the gym in the evenings, a group of us would begin doing fun campus problems,  big moves between medium sized holds.  Although I could not touch the crux of Ice Cream, I could for whatever reason do these problems,  so could all our friends.  Everyone except Dave.  I’m not trying to single him out, he’s one of the best rock climbers to touch stone, I was merely shocked that he could not lock off with one arm long enough to reach the next hold,  yet,  he can climb V12 like it’s no big deal.  So what’s his secret?  Is he weak?  Are we strong?  No AND Not necessarily.  What I realized is that Dave is not only light, which helps a little, but he’s also very, very strong in the right places to climb hard rocks.  Core, fingers and mind.

I love climbing hard as much as anybody, but it’s hard work to climb hard.  I mostly go rock climbing outside these days because it’s my real passion, and I try hard when I get the chance, but if we are going to invest any precious time or energy into specific training to climb harder,  what’s the best use of that time?  Well,  here’s a little secret, don’t train one arm chin ups.

The worlds most accomplished sport climber and boulderer Adam Ondra has recently completed his first one arm chin up according to Planet   This fact only reinforces what I (and dozens of other climbers and coaches) have said for years, the key to climbing hard is not in the arms at all.  It’s mostly in the fingers and core.  Adam Ondra has onsighted more 5.14c’s (8c-8c+) than any human being EVER, climbed a handful of 5.15b’s (9a+-9b), and he’s just recently climbed a 5.14d (8c+-9a) on his very first try (though not technically a flash, he’s on his way to being the first person to do so).  In the bouldering field he’s equally as strong, having flashed V14, and climbed V16.  It seems if it can be done by anyone, it can be repeated by Ondra, and there’s no telling what he’s still capable of.  Especially considering he’s only 18.

I think, if you’re going to train specifically for climbing, keep it simple.  Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up over the years.

1) Focus on your strength to weight ratio, which means, stronger, leaner muscles.  Overall fitness is great, just as long as you’re not bulking up unnecessarily, unless you’re into that sort of thing.  More lean vitamin rich foods, and less Krispy Kreme donuts, more veggies, more protein, and more cardio exercise won’t hurt either.  Just add water, electrolites and antioxidants.  It’s all very simple and basic,  no need to do any sort of rigid regime here, just use common sense and a touch of will power.  No sweat.

2) Focus on your core .  If your core is weak it will tire quickly on steeper routes, and your body will sag, if you sag, you’re further away from the wall then you want to be, thus further from the holds you want to be grabbing.  If you’re strong, you’ll be tighter to the wall making moves feel easier and closer.

3) Stress your fingers.  If you don’t stress your fingers regularly, then they’ll forget how to dig into small holds, it’s a neurological connection.  Stress your fingers, crimp with thumb, half crimp, and open hand.  If you start doing funky things like one finger hangs I think it’s not very sustainable and you may end up getting injured,  if you musttrain one fingers for those 5.14d’s (9a) in the Frank, then do them for a period of time then lay off again for a little while to let them recover.  I personally prefer to keep it all very simple,  most if not all the holds I grab (even on really hard routes) are not often tweaky or one digit, they usually involve three or four fingers, but they are just hard to grab, so strengthen my fingers is still pretty crucial.   If you’re getting too strong for your finger board, don’t walk away, add a little bit of weight, but that doesn’t mean over do it.  Be sensible.  Again, this is very basic stuff, but it works if you actually do it, and don’t get carried away.

4) Climb as much as you can, as often as you can.  Sport climbing is not as hard on the body as bouldering, so get out, move the body around, get the blood flowing, get pumped, have fun, be nice to your fellow climbers and be thankful that you have the ability to do this.  If you have a local crag, be thankful for that too, some people live in Kansas you know.

5) Stay psyched.  Remember why you fell in love with climbing in the first place,  Climbing is like the coolest thing ever, it’s physical, beautiful and a wonderful mental exercise.  Achieving a new level is like discovering a different part of yourself.  Climb with people who force you to get outside, to expand your world, to keep you curious, and people that make you feel good about yourself and who laugh and don’t bitch about why the world is out to get them.  Mean people suck and climbing rocks doesn’t.”

If you don’t know the site, you should.  Volker Roth and his partner have collected a wealth of information about alpine, sport and all types of multi-pitch rock climbing in addition to their excellent topo guide books.

The article “Der Weg zum 10. Grad... „ (8a), in their quarterly on-line magazine ( was the inspiration for me to finally confront and do something about the biggest thing holding me back as a sport climber: body composition.

There is a lot of practical information in regards to training in the topoguide-Magazin section of the site, and you can also subscribe to the on-line newsletter.

And lastly, the best book ever written about improving your sport climbing is now avalible in a German translation.  Dave MacLeod’s “9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes” should be required reading for anyone who has ambitions about getting better on rock.  You can buy the German version through the website,

Don’t forget to go to the source at benefit from Dave Macleod’s unparallel insights about sport and traditional climbing, training, injuries, tactics, etc., etc.