written by Pinnacle Ambassador Ryan Siacci
Well, folks, these are strange days indeed. A mere month ago, we were hitting the crags and project shopping in anticipation of cooler temperatures. Now we’re stuck inside and already itching for our climbing fix.
The stay-at-home directive has created an unprecedented demand for hangboards and climbing holds to outfit newly-minted home woodys. On one hand, this introduced many climbers to the harsh economic realities of supply and demand as such goods become rarer than toilet paper, hand sanitizer and unicorn poop. But those with a rosier disposition might look at it in a more positive light – it means that climbers are psyched and motivated to train, even in these times of pestilence!
That said, this article will not be another training primer. Using the current surplus of free time in the aid of stronger fingers is a bit of a no-brainer, but the trick might be in maintaining the motivation to do so during a time of uncertainty. How can we stay hungry enough for another set of hangboard repeaters? How can we keep frothing on climbing when we’re not actually doing any? How might we best fire the collective stoke of the climbing community for the indefinite and unforeseeable future?
I don’t have all the answers, but here are a few suggestions…
Photo by Phil Beattie
Had you heard of Zoom before last week? Me neither, but it’s kind of like Skype except that you can have all your friends together. This enables you to share training sessions, post-workout beverages and the occasional awkward silence from the comfort of your living room. Here in our cosy COVID bunker, there have been group yoga sessions connecting folks from sometimes hundreds of kilometres distant. It’s also a really cool method for learning and storytelling, and some prominent climbers are getting on board with free sessions to deliver wisdom and good vibes. American alpinist Steve House has been an early adopter of this, offering seldom-told tales of mountaineering madness from his home in Ouray. You can check his upcoming dates on uphillathlete.com or recording of previous sessions on Youtube.
Free climbing films
Yeah, you’ve seen Free Solo, The Dawn Wall, and everybody’s favourite climbing documentary, Vertical Limit. But there are dozens (or perhaps hundreds) more excellent climbing films out there, and following strict lock-down laws in many countries, many have been made free to watch online. Here’s a wee selection:
Red Bull TV – Anything from 20 minutes of Ondra yelling at rocks to a full-length feature of David Lama on Cerro Torre. Download the free app or stream directly at https://www.redbull.com/au-en/best-climbing-movies.
Banff Mountain Film Festival – This annual film festival won’t be touring the globe in 2020, but rather will be touring your living room. https://www.banffcentre.ca/film-fest-at-home
Youtube – If you type “climbing documentary” into the search bar, you will be gifted with literally hundreds of results. Many are shorts or trailers, but there are plenty of full-length documentaries on offer.
Sending Fear – Ok, so this one’s not free, but for $5.17 you can watch an SEQ-produced climbing documentary and support a local artist. https://vimeo.com/ondemand/sendingfear
Rampage – This classic Chris Sharma film is full of history first ascents of some now-famous boulders, filmed in that iconic late-90's style. https://reelrocktour.com/collections/films/products/rampage
Reel Rock – If asked what the biggest name in the world of climbing films is, you'd be hard-pressed to say anything other than "Reel Rock". They've put together an immense package of 35 hours of content on their site at 75% off. At $95 USD, this is still pricey but in terms of pure volume it's hard to beat. https://reelrocktour.com/collections/films/products/the-full-package-20-years-of-climbing-films
Maybe actually rest for once?
So far, we have established that climbers are good at training. You know what else we’re good at? Ignoring our crippling tendonitis, that pesky tennis elbow and our various antagonist muscle imbalances. It may well be that training might not be the right fit for you just now. For some of us, self-care might be preferable and yield greater climbing benefits once this whole thing blows over. If you have a persistent niggle, take this time to give it the attention it deserves.
Buy some shiny new gear
For many, this might not be the best time to be parting with currency. But if you’re still gainfully employed, now could be an excellent time to invest in some new climbing kit. Climbing retailers across the planet are offering significant discounts on gear as well as some pretty decent deals for delivery. Here at Pinnacle Sports, you can get 15% off anything* in store and free delivery Australia-wide on orders over $99. For my money, I’d be looking at something with immediate as well as long-term benefits – chalk and tape for those sweaty indoor training sessions, a Gimme Kraft Book/DVD to help you climb with Teutonic efficiency, or the massive Metolius Magnum crash pad to fully protect that new home woody.
Try some online courses
It’s not just climbing films that are going cheap - many gyms, yoga studios, trainers and educational outlets are currently offering material and courses that are free or discounted. Feed your body, mind and soul with this small sample of offerings:
Mark Smiley – One of the most well-known names in mountain education, Mark Smiley is offering 40% off his online courses if you use the code STILLSTUCKINSIDE40. https://www.mtnsense.com/
Ortovox Safety Academy – This is a digital training resource aimed at alpine climbers, but will prove handy for any rock climber in adventurous terrain with topics such as multipitch technique and rescue methods. https://www.ortovox.com/uk/safety-academy-lab-rock/
Yoga for Climbers – Heidi Wirtz is offering her 22-part course for free for a limited time. https://www.aimadventureu.com/courses/yoga-for-climbers
Urban Climb – For the time being, Urban has moved a bunch of their fitness and flexibility courses online. Check them out here: https://www.urbanclimb.com.au/classes/urbanclimbonline/
Even with all the online media available to you, at some point the well is going to run dry. True, you might not ever run out of climbing media, but the will to devour it will eventually fade. If that’s true, try creating instead of consuming. As Yvon Chouinard said, “I've always known that the cure for depression is action.” Take these words to heart, and look to the example of other artists. It doesn’t matter whether the medium is prose, watercolours, music, podcasts, film, photography or whittling, we’re all going to need some more climbing art before this thing is over.