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How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing?
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jon789


Jul 10, 2013, 5:34 AM
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How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing?
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I am 18 and I started climbing almost a year ago. When I started climbing at the gym I could only top rope a 5+ (I'll speak in French sport grades as I do not know the conversions).
I remember back when I could only get up a very easy boulder problem like twice in a climbing session.

Now however, my bouldering has improved exponentially and I can climb problems with a font grade around 6B so I have gotten much stronger, however stamina is still an issue and I struggle to lead short 7a routes, I can typically complete them with one cheating rest on a quick draw to regain my strength.
I often find when leading I am afraid to push myself due to the fear of falling, for example I can top rope a long 7a/7b in one go with energy to spare however when leading if I even feel the slightest burn in my muscles I convince myself that I am not strong enough to climb above protection.

I do not want to be better than anyone else for bragging rights, I just want to expand my climbing opportunities by being able to climb harder.
I would also be very interested to know how long it takes someone to go from beginner to being a competitive climber?
I am worried that because I have started climbing too late I won't be as good as I'd like to be.
When I hear about most professionals they talk of starting at a young age of around 8 years old.
could starting age be an issue?


Kartessa


Jul 10, 2013, 5:41 AM
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Re: [jon789] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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jon789 wrote:
I am 18 and I started climbing almost a year ago. When I started climbing at the gym I could only top rope a 5+ (I'll speak in French sport grades as I do not know the conversions).
I remember back when I could only get up a very easy boulder problem like twice in a climbing session.

Now however, my bouldering has improved exponentially and I can climb problems with a font grade around 6B so I have gotten much stronger, however stamina is still an issue and I struggle to lead short 7a routes, I can typically complete them with one cheating rest on a quick draw to regain my strength.
I often find when leading I am afraid to push myself due to the fear of falling, for example I can top rope a long 7a/7b in one go with energy to spare however when leading if I even feel the slightest burn in my muscles I convince myself that I am not strong enough to climb above protection.

I do not want to be better than anyone else for bragging rights, I just want to expand my climbing opportunities by being able to climb harder.
I would also be very interested to know how long it takes someone to go from beginner to being a competitive climber?
I am worried that because I have started climbing too late I won't be as good as I'd like to be.
When I hear about most professionals they talk of starting at a young age of around 8 years old.
could starting age be an issue?

It takes as long as it takes. Everybody and every body is different, for now just enjoy the journey.


potreroed


Jul 10, 2013, 10:32 AM
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Re: [jon789] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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There are far too many variables-from genetics to how much time you can devote to training-to be able to answer this question. I know one guy who climbed a 5.13d sport route his first year climbing and I know others who have never climbed a 5.11 after many years of enjoying the rock.


6pacfershur


Jul 10, 2013, 2:27 PM
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Re: [jon789] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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jon789 wrote:
....I often find when leading I am afraid to push myself due to the fear of falling.... if I even feel the slightest burn in my muscles I convince myself that I am not strong enough to climb above protection.....

if your goal is competative sport climbing, work on those two areas; sounds like your challenges might be more mental than physical.......


kobaz


Jul 10, 2013, 3:26 PM
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Re: [jon789] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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I started climbing at 20. I'm 30 now... so 10 years.

It didn't help that I started climbing at a crappy gym. I didn't know it was a crappy gym, but all I knew was I loved climbing.

The short story:
After climbing 8 months I found my first bouldering comp and won third in beginner. (basically climbing v0-v1)
After climbing about 3 years, I started placing in intermediate either second or third (v2-v3)
After climbing 6 years I started placing second/third in advanced (v4-v5)
After climbing 10 years I've been winning advanced or placing 4th-5th in open (v7-v8).
(All local comps... I would get crushed doing anything regional or national level).

After 10 years I can comfortably onsite sport routes in the 11 range, climb easy 12 sport with some hangs, and onsite trad up till easy 10, and toprope gym 5.12/5.13 on a good day.

But that's just me. I've never done a serious training regiment like I did in college for running cross country, for example. But I generally climb twice a week, hit the lifting gym once a week to work on opposing muscle groups. I do yoga, and acro yoga, I run occasionally and also road bike.

It's never too late to start doing something you enjoy. I would say 18 is just as good a time as any to start. You're still developing and you have a lot of years available for strength building ahead of you.

As per the usual recommendations... don't focus on the numbers, they will come. Work on technique and core strength and don't overdo finger-specific workouts, because ripping a tendon is *not* fun.

Work on climbing your current grades really well. Climb a route 2-3 grades below you limit, and work on making that route feel like no effort. You should almost feel rested once you're done. At that point you know you're developing good technique.


majid_sabet


Jul 10, 2013, 5:20 PM
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Re: [jon789] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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you know you made it as a good climber when your hairs turn white and your child is belaying you


(This post was edited by majid_sabet on Jul 10, 2013, 5:21 PM)


Syd


Jul 10, 2013, 8:33 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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majid_sabet wrote:
you know you made it as a good climber when your hairs turn white and your child is belaying you

How old does a child need to be to belay safely ?


USnavy


Jul 11, 2013, 4:11 AM
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Re: [majid_sabet] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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majid_sabet wrote:
you know you made it as a good climber when your hairs turn white and your child is belaying you
There is a difference between quantitative experience and qualitative, not that I would expect you to understand the difference. In short, I know guys who have been climbing for "30 years" but still dont know what a soft catch is because all they do is climb 5.7 trad routes one weekend a month. True climbing mastery requires extensive experience in all aspects of climbing and one cannot put a numerical value on how many years is required to achieve it. There are guys out there with five years of experience that have more real experience than other guys with 20.


(This post was edited by USnavy on Jul 11, 2013, 4:13 AM)


majid_sabet


Jul 11, 2013, 7:57 AM
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Re: [USnavy] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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USnavy wrote:
majid_sabet wrote:
you know you made it as a good climber when your hairs turn white and your child is belaying you
There is a difference between quantitative experience and qualitative, not that I would expect you to understand the difference. In short, I know guys who have been climbing for "30 years" but still dont know what a soft catch is because all they do is climb 5.7 trad routes one weekend a month. True climbing mastery requires extensive experience in all aspects of climbing and one cannot put a numerical value on how many years is required to achieve it. There are guys out there with five years of experience that have more real experience than other guys with 20.


I climbed with a white hair guy once named Jim Donini and I'll take take that guy on any climbing route anywhere in the world against the best of the 5 year experienced climbers you referring to.


DemolitionRed


Jul 15, 2013, 5:01 AM
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Re: [majid_sabet] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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The question isn't specific enough. Are you talking about sports climbing in a gym or high altitude trad climbing? Do you want to achieve the highest bouldering route or be able to climb formidably high walls which are bloody hard and dangerous?

Fear of falling is what holds most new climbers back. You have to ask yourself, 'do I trust my belay?'
Nobody wants to fall off, its frustrating and I absolutely agree that when you haven't got a good nut placement and there is a thousand feet of nothing below your feet, it feels freaky.

I often hear myself saying, 'would you mind leading the next pitch' but it tends to happen when I'm feeling gripped and ready to go back down. Leading an intricate puzzle of rock is for most climbers, what its all about.

I suggest you bring yourself down a peg or two and start leading in some easy routes. Learn to clip in quickly and smoothly. Try looking at the route ahead of you and don't get fixated on the clip in itself.

I used to show jump and the one thing you must never do is become fixated on the jump you're jumping but always look ahead for the next jump. I do the same when I'm climbing a sports route.


(This post was edited by DemolitionRed on Jul 15, 2013, 6:01 AM)


billcoe_


Jul 16, 2013, 12:56 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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majid_sabet wrote:
I climbed with a white hair guy once named Jim Donini and I'll take take that guy on any climbing route anywhere in the world against the best of the 5 year experienced climbers you referring to.

Donini has many years experience and can't be included with most people. Many white hair dudes have 1 year of experience repeated 40 times.

I'm going with Kartessa answer upthread.


jorgegonzalez


Dec 24, 2013, 11:44 AM
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Re: [billcoe_] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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I also have forty years of experience. Ask me next year and I promise I'll tell you.


shockabuku


Dec 24, 2013, 12:03 PM
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Re: [Syd] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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Syd wrote:
majid_sabet wrote:
you know you made it as a good climber when your hairs turn white and your child is belaying you

How old does a child need to be to belay safely ?

Depends on the child, the training, and the environment.

My kids started belaying me in the gym around 13 yrs of age. Relatively low consequence environment with straight forward routes. I climbed a lot of things that didn't challenge me for a while. They were also training in a team environment which helped to develop their belay skills as well as their appreciation for good belaying. Given the size difference between me and them, at that age, anchoring was a must.


lofstromc


Dec 29, 2013, 12:26 PM
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Re: [jon789] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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Nevermind those previous answers. The true answer is two.


flesh


Jan 1, 2014, 10:58 PM
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I know of many cases, including myself, where people started at your age or older and climb at the highest grades, nearly.

Anyways, just go after it man! At 34 I climb v12 and started at 17 but didn't try bouldering until I was 20 and took around 7 years off in the middle! It's about focus, dedication, being psyched.

If you want to climb much harder than myself, I think you can. If you can want it for years. There are no rules.

On the other hand if you want to be top five in the world, you're probably too late.


blueeyedclimber


Mar 12, 2014, 5:49 AM
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Re: [jon789] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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jon789 wrote:
I am 18 and I started climbing almost a year ago. When I started climbing at the gym I could only top rope a 5+ (I'll speak in French sport grades as I do not know the conversions).
I remember back when I could only get up a very easy boulder problem like twice in a climbing session.

Now however, my bouldering has improved exponentially and I can climb problems with a font grade around 6B so I have gotten much stronger, however stamina is still an issue and I struggle to lead short 7a routes, I can typically complete them with one cheating rest on a quick draw to regain my strength.
I often find when leading I am afraid to push myself due to the fear of falling, for example I can top rope a long 7a/7b in one go with energy to spare however when leading if I even feel the slightest burn in my muscles I convince myself that I am not strong enough to climb above protection.

I do not want to be better than anyone else for bragging rights, I just want to expand my climbing opportunities by being able to climb harder.
I would also be very interested to know how long it takes someone to go from beginner to being a competitive climber?
I am worried that because I have started climbing too late I won't be as good as I'd like to be.
When I hear about most professionals they talk of starting at a young age of around 8 years old.
could starting age be an issue?

If you want to be elite, you need good genes and a strong work ethic.

If you want to just settle for really good, you need dedication, fitness, positivity, craving for knowledge, and humility.

That last one is very important. Can you handle being told that what you are doing is wrong, stupid, or even deadly? Is your ego going to get in the way or are you going to learn from your mistakes? This (and fear) probably holds more people back than skill.

Lastly, climbing is fun. That should be the only reason you want to get better.

Josh


veilneb


Mar 13, 2014, 7:21 PM
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Re: [jon789] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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10,000 hours.


dynosore


Mar 15, 2014, 9:36 PM
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Re: [jon789] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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Enjoy the journey. Set realistic goals. Don't measure your success by numbers alone. I made sure I was a safe, competent climber and belayer first.

I've known more than one climber that could pull 5.12+ sport but didn't know the somethinig as basic as safely escaping a belay or setting up a haul for an injured partner.


(This post was edited by dynosore on Mar 15, 2014, 9:37 PM)


taylortreadgold


Mar 19, 2014, 8:31 AM
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Re: [jon789] How many years does it take to get really good at rock climbing? [In reply to]
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It all depends on how hard you want to work. You can get very good very fast but you have to put in real work.

What helped me the most was switching to bouldering to get power quickly. Bouldering is more intense training and can generally speaking get your stronger quicker.

The key however is to not focus so hard on trying powerful boulder problems but to focus most on using the best technique possible. You will get the needed power simply from bouldering, so focus on climbing each problem in the most efficient manor possible and try to use the best beta.

You want to learn proper technique as soon as possible as being strong will only help if your technique is solid.

I started at 18 and it hasnt held me back much. the benefit of starting later is you can view your progress from a much better perspective. You can use this info to optimize your training and get stronger quicker as a result. As i said above however you will have to put in a lot of work.

Above all climb alot and enjoy it. The best climber is often the one having the most fun.


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