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Learner


Jun 14, 2011, 12:31 PM
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ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy?
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What is your mental strategy for on-sighting a route?

This thread is about the psychology of on-sighting. I am asking you to be as perceptive as you can here, in reading yourself and what goes through your head when you're about to attempt to on-sight a route.

For example, I have seen climbers imagine themselves gripping the handholds only, while physically imitating the movements, as if they were clutching the holds they can spot (left, right, left, right). The eyes scan the route from ground up, looking for potential handholds, and as each is spotted, the climber imagines himself/herself clutching the holds one-by-one. While the climber is on the ground imagining this, each hand physically executes each movement in mid-air, being in the exact position and executing the exact grip that would appear to be necessary to utilize that hold at that point in the route. These individuals would focus on what is going to happen with their hands, for the most part ignoring their feet until they actually attempt the route. Apparently they are gambling on the fact that there will be holds for their feet and that they will spot and be able to use them.

Others seem to account for their entire body, planning out what's going to happen with all points of contact and their relative body positions, but only for the first couple of moves. And I have to assume that there are others that actually attempt to execute the entire route in their heads, including all points of contact and body positions, for at least as much of the route as they can see from the ground.

Still others seem to just wing it, thinking one (hand or foot) move at a time as they go along.

So, what goes through your head immediately before you attempt to on-sight a route? Please share as much detail as possible.

(If applicable, how is your on-sighting strategy different for outdoor vs. indoor climbing?)


(This post was edited by Learner on Jun 14, 2011, 3:05 PM)


healyje


Jun 14, 2011, 12:33 PM
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Re: [Learner] Mental Strategy for On-Sighting? [In reply to]
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Ignore the chalk.


kennoyce


Jun 14, 2011, 12:57 PM
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Re: [Learner] Mental Strategy for On-Sighting? [In reply to]
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Learner wrote:
[So, what goes through your head immediately before you attempt to on-sight a route? Please share as much detail as possible.

This route looks fun, I think I'll give it a go.


olderic


Jun 14, 2011, 1:34 PM
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Re: [Learner] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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Don't let go.


spikeddem


Jun 14, 2011, 1:49 PM
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Re: [olderic] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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Before arriving at crag:

Read Rock Warrior's Way.

At crag:

Look for rests.

Look for clipping holds (or gear if trad).

Determine the most difficult parts of the route. These are the parts through which you will need to climb the quickest.

Locate parts that may be intimidating, and determine the safety of them. It may need to be refined on lead, but once you determine it's safe, you need to focus on the movement, not on perceived danger. If it's not safe, then skip it (or retreat).

Do your best to come up with sequences for as much of the route as you can, recognizing that they may need to be refined on lead.

Go over your list of excuses (or set some up!) that you'll have if you fail. Laugh

That's all I can think of for now.


(This post was edited by spikeddem on Jun 14, 2011, 1:50 PM)


Partner cracklover


Jun 14, 2011, 1:56 PM
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Re: [Learner] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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Is this gym, or real climbing? Because on real rock, you can rarely see the holds well enough to do what you're talking about.

GO


Learner


Jun 14, 2011, 2:53 PM
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Re: [cracklover] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
Is this gym, or real climbing? Because on real rock, you can rarely see the holds well enough to do what you're talking about.

GO
Both. Is your on-sighting strategy different for outdoor vs. indoor climbing? If so, in what way(s)?


healyje


Jun 14, 2011, 3:35 PM
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Re: [Learner] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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What makes you think an onsight attempt is somehow different than any other climb or that it requires a 'strategy' of any sort? Personally, I try not to think that much prior to a climb and as little as possible during one.


kiwiprincess


Jun 14, 2011, 4:47 PM
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I too look for good holds/Positions for rests and clipping.
I like to break it in rest to rest segments and see if I can spot a sequence for any of it so I have a plan and can keep going through the hard bits.
I wear my helmet so I don't panic if the fall will be awkward.
I try to breath through my nose to stay calm.

For maximum success any style. I warm up well, eat small snacks regularly rather than a big meal, and stay hydrated etc


healyje


Jun 14, 2011, 4:54 PM
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Re: [kiwiprincess] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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Is that somehow different than how you approach any climb?


jt512


Jun 14, 2011, 4:59 PM
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Re: [healyje] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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healyje wrote:
I try not to think that much prior to a climb and as little as possible during one.

A lot of folks around here use the same strategy for posting.

Jay


healyje


Jun 14, 2011, 5:24 PM
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Re: [jt512] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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jt512 wrote:
healyje wrote:
I try not to think that much prior to a climb and as little as possible during one.

A lot of folks around here use the same strategy for posting.

Jay

I hear you. Also as opposed to posing no doubt which requires strategy.


(This post was edited by healyje on Jun 14, 2011, 5:25 PM)


kiwiprincess


Jun 14, 2011, 6:55 PM
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Re: [healyje] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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Well if it's red point I already know most that from the experience rather than scoping it out. Definatelythe same if I repeat a route I did years ago and can't remember alot.


Learner


Jun 14, 2011, 9:48 PM
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Re: [healyje] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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healyje wrote:
What makes you think an onsight attempt is somehow different than any other climb or that it requires a 'strategy' of any sort? Personally, I try not to think that much prior to a climb and as little as possible during one.

They will be the same, for the most part. Although effective strategy for onsighting will be effective strategy for any climb, strategy for on-sighting poses additional challenges. On-sighting will require a greater expression of problem-solving skills than a climb you've already attempted, or have recieved beta on. So I agree with you, this is really a question of problem-solving before attempting to climb a route. So any effective strategies contributed to this thread could benefit you whenever you attempt to climb any route. However, we can learn the most about problem-solving by asking about strategy for on-sighting in particular...

As kiwiprincess pointed out, if you're attempting to redpoint, you may already have a good idea what you need to do, you just need to execute. Sometimes you know what you need to do but just can't do it at the time. You may come back later and redpoint it after you've rested, thought it through, gotten stronger, thought through and corrected technique, etc.... For example, you may not be able to make it through the crux because you can't do the particular move that is required. However, in this case you'd already know what you need to do, and have decided it is the best approach. When attempting to on-sight, on the other hand, you are more of a blank slate and need to figure out what move you need to do before you attempt to do it.

It's this 'figuring it out' stage I'm interested in with this thread. Since on-sighting places more demand on this stage than any other method of sending (hangdog, redpoint or flash), we can learn the most about this stage by posing a strategy question involving on-sighting. Hence, even though the answers we get will benefit all of your climbing, we ask about mental strategy for on-sighting instead of any other way to send. The result is that we learn the most about problem-solving before you attempt to climb a route than we would have learned had we posed the question any other way. That works out pretty nicely, don't you think? Wink


(This post was edited by Learner on Jun 14, 2011, 10:00 PM)


healyje


Jun 14, 2011, 10:04 PM
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Re: [Learner] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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Hmmm, personally I think when most of one's climbing involves resting on the rope to progressively figure out a stack of moves then onsighting tends to be well within one's limits exactly because you aren't used to thinking on the fly. Another approach would be to not rest on the rope so much and learn to think and problem solve while actually climbing - do that enough and onsighting will likely happen closer to your limit and come much more naturally than trying to come up with pre-climb thinking 'strategies'.


(This post was edited by healyje on Jun 14, 2011, 10:05 PM)


Learner


Jun 14, 2011, 10:15 PM
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Re: [healyje] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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healyje wrote:
Hmmm, personally I think when most of one's climbing involves resting on the rope to progressively figure out a stack of moves then onsighting tends to be well within one's limits exactly because you aren't used to thinking on the fly. Another approach would be to not rest on the rope so much and learn to think and problem solve while actually climbing - do that enough and onsighting will likely happen closer to your limit and come much more naturally than trying to come up with pre-climb thinking 'strategies'.
I don't know what this first sentence in italics is supposed to mean. It seems you may have intended to say onsighting tends to be out of one's limits here instead of well within. And I don't know why you're talking about hanging from a rope. This thread is about on-sighting, which does not involve hanging from a rope.

That aside, I agree with what you wrote here in bold. I think what happens while you climb is more important than anything, worlds above what happens before you begin to climb. However, I am also interested in what goes through your head (if anything) before you attempt a route. I suspect most climbers have something they tend to do, and that's interesting.


(This post was edited by Learner on Jun 14, 2011, 10:21 PM)


healyje


Jun 14, 2011, 11:38 PM
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Re: [Learner] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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Learner wrote:
healyje wrote:
Hmmm, personally I think when most of one's climbing involves resting on the rope to progressively figure out a stack of moves then onsighting tends to be well within one's limits exactly because you aren't used to thinking on the fly. Another approach would be to not rest on the rope so much and learn to think and problem solve while actually climbing - do that enough and onsighting will likely happen closer to your limit and come much more naturally than trying to come up with pre-climb thinking 'strategies'.
I don't know what this first sentence in italics is supposed to mean. It seems you may have intended to say onsighting tends to be out of one's limits here instead of well within. And I don't know why you're talking about hanging from a rope. This thread is about on-sighting, which does not involve hanging from a rope.

That aside, I agree with what you wrote here in bold. I think what happens while you climb is more important than anything, worlds above what happens before you begin to climb. However, I am also interested in what goes through your head (if anything) before you attempt a route. I suspect most climbers have something they tend to do, and that's interesting.

That sentence in italics means if the majority of your climbing employs sport tactics - i.e. resting on the rope working out the moves one crux after another until you can redpoint - then the likelihood is that your onsights will be well within you limit because you won't have the experience of trying to figure things out on the fly at your limit while climbing versus while hanging on the rope.

I personally don't employ any special 'strategies' of any kind and make no mental distinctions between FAs, onsights, or just climbing existing routes. Climbing a climb is just that and if I happen to get it first go then grand, otherwise I don't consider there to be anything special about the climb beforehand. Ditto for an onsight FA, lovely but not a very common experience if you're climbing at or slightly above your limit.


ghisino


Jun 15, 2011, 12:46 AM
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Re: [healyje] Mental Strategy for On-Sighting? [In reply to]
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healyje wrote:
Ignore the chalk.

and if you don't ignore it, learn to read thumb marks (the white spot left by someone's chalked thumb).

especially on bigger pockets and slots it tells with 99% accuracy if a given hold needs to be taken right or left hand...

less useful on plastic and on tufas.







edit.
as for the "problem solving" thing.
you can stop and think about the next sequence in the details only if the route has many rests/shakes.
(obvious strategy tip: if there's a decent pair of holds, stop and look at the following moves)

For a route (or sequence) without many obvious shakes, trying to *think* about it too much only gets you pumped (and when pumped you often make bad decisions. at least, that's me).
So, the other strategy on onsights is never stop right in the middle of a crux, and if you have no sequence, just take a risk and try the first thing that comes at your head : see a white spot? Maybe it's a chalked jug? DYNO to it, quick!

Of course for this second strategy to work well you need a good "climbing instinct".
How to develop it?
Mileage. climb, climb, climb, climb. Routes that are at the highest grade you can climb confortably (depending on the style, knowledge of the route, etc) work best. Try to have a "flowy" style, to eliminate any pause : you don't need to climb as fast a s you can, but to keep moving up, to build a rhythm.

The idea is to automate 90% of each move, eg when you get a sidepull, you should ideally get your feet and at least your body position right without the need for a conscious analysis.

(eg : if you go running on a trail in the woods, do you need to "think" that much about obstacles suck as rocks, tree roots, etc? When you walk in the street, do you think about every step you take?)

(see adam ondra 8c+ os video.
http://vimeo.com/21939923
No way he has a sequence from the ground on such a long route. But he keeps climbing rather fast. Only possible because a large part of what he's doing is automated.
He's been climbing for years already, mostly at the best age for such "automation" to occur...pre-adolescence...)


(This post was edited by ghisino on Jun 15, 2011, 1:23 AM)


herites


Jun 15, 2011, 4:32 AM
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Fuck, it's tall :)


habitat


Jun 15, 2011, 5:15 AM
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Not so much in the head, but getting it in your head...

The hardest route I've onsighted (an incredibly steep mid-12) I sat at the base for a few minutes with binoculars and planned out all the sequences.

I took this strategy from one of the world's best...8c OS in 2004...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V38fr3V6Yc

It was interesting, because from scoping I thought there would be a heartbreaker crux above the last bolt, but it was total ez mode. You might be very intimidated like I was, but a carefull assesment can often give you a road map...in the middle of the huge overhang I remembered some of the clipping holds I had glassed and didn't waste a lot of energy.

I also used some crappy hand jams to recover...something I often see "pure" sport climbers miss....


Partner j_ung


Jun 15, 2011, 6:03 AM
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healyje wrote:
What makes you think an onsight attempt is somehow different than any other climb or that it requires a 'strategy' of any sort? Personally, I try not to think that much prior to a climb and as little as possible during one.

That's fine and all, but it's you and you're approach to climbing. What climbers do mentally to prepare for a hard climb is as different for each of us as are fingerprints.

Do I do anything differently for an onsight that I might not do for a redpoint? Probably not substantially different. There's a whole range of things I think about before climbing something I expect to be difficult to try to focus my attention where it needs to be. It doesn't always work, but I can say that when I don't make any attempt to get my head right, I have a much lower send rate.

Aside from the usual stances, holds, gear, blah, I think about the things I can't control, for example the exact length of every potential fall. I actually list them out and say them quietly to myself. Then I think about the things I can control, such as breathing, pace, body position, and try to convince myself to only pay attention to those things.


Partner j_ung


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ghisino wrote:
healyje wrote:
Ignore the chalk.

and if you don't ignore it, learn to read thumb marks (the white spot left by someone's chalked thumb).

especially on bigger pockets and slots it tells with 99% accuracy if a given hold needs to be taken right or left hand...

less useful on plastic and on tufas.

You might have missed his point there. Laugh


jacques


Jun 15, 2011, 6:53 AM
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Learner wrote:
What is your mental strategy for on-sighting a route?

This thread is about the psychology of on-sighting. I am asking you to be as perceptive as you can here, in reading yourself and what goes through your head when you're about to attempt to on-sight a route.
sorry to be late to answer
As a trad climber, my onsight strategy is a little bit different. Often, we can not see the hole, and some time we can not figure out the move.
My first concern is about safety. I have to plan where I am going to fall. If i fall on a ledge, if I have to push myself way off the rock to avoid a ledge, if the pro is good, the higher i can climb before placing an other pro, the higher I can climb before coming back at the belay. For me onsighting a route is done clean. In a free style, if I aid the route, I am not onsighting and I fail to onsight the route.

Once is done, I can climb without contraint. I train to climb as good on pro as in top rope. More relax, stronger I am. As I know where I am going to fall, the sress is not so hight. This is a clear distinction between trad and sport here in the way we train. One try the hardiest move, they know a number of movements and the other try to master a move they have less movement, but they are more in balance.

This preparation is very good when an hole broke in your hand. as you are more in balance, you can load a hole gradually an avoid the fall. This is very good for the mental and, as you climb, you see the possibility of the cliff.

With the fatigue, you begin to be less efficient and your head know it. You take to much time to make the move and finding a rest place become more important. To be able to rest is very important and your training is going to be in that sense. You don't want to go at the top, you want to know how long you can stay in a kind of rest place or how long you can rest before exhaustion.

Psychologically, you always evaluate your situation to be able to take the best decision. some time you will run it out. Some other time you will give the point to the cliff. the chalenge become more psychological than a sequence of hole that you have to grab. You take decision that can change your life if you fall in a ledge in a fifteen foot fall

So, my mental strategy is to always know where is my limit and to stay in a safe zone where I can climb for many years and chalenge myself at my limits


jape


Jun 15, 2011, 7:18 AM
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healyje wrote:
What makes you think an onsight attempt is somehow different than any other climb or that it requires a 'strategy' of any sort? Personally, I try not to think that much prior to a climb and as little as possible during one.


To me an onsight (or flash for that matter) is way different, and I mentally tell myself "one SHOT". This often gets me up the hardest section and to the anchor.

Hard redpoints are a different beast entirely...

Kind of like Sharma and FRFM, some of the 5.13s I've done have been real mental-slugfests. Especially the ones with heartbreaker cruxes above the last bolt or hard cracks with cruxes right at the top. I have had to almost get in the mindset of "I'll just go up and try to refine some moves" and then surprise myself with a send. The last 13 I did I was technically "warming up" when my partner called up "dood, looking strong, just keep GOING!!" Thanks, Junior!

Your problem with the route is more mental?
Sharma: Yes, itís a mental problem. After 30 falls on the same and last move, itís a real head fuckÖ Itís not like falling in the middle. When you fall, you have made all the effort of doing the other moves of the entire route.


I understand trying to be "present" and "flow" and "not thinking" but a lot of times, if you are really pushing your limits, it's inevitable at least for me...


(This post was edited by jape on Jun 15, 2011, 7:20 AM)


Partner cracklover


Jun 15, 2011, 8:47 AM
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Re: [Learner] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy? [In reply to]
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Learner wrote:
cracklover wrote:
Is this gym, or real climbing? Because on real rock, you can rarely see the holds well enough to do what you're talking about.

GO
Both. Is your on-sighting strategy different for outdoor vs. indoor climbing? If so, in what way(s)?

Never mind, I really don't have anything insightful to add beyond what's been said already.

But since I'm posting anyway, I'll give you the best thing I can think of. For big climbs, really make sure you have all your logistics dialed if you can. Otherwise, expect half the adventure to be just in getting there and getting off the climb, and expect your chances of actual success on your first attempt to drop. Of course this is probably a no-brainer for most, so maybe I was right to say I really have nothing to add.

GO

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