TRIPLE TRAINING CHALLENGE

by Caroline Ciavaldini

  

10 minute read

 

 

Le Corridor 8A; La Capelle-Masmolène, FR

 

The Corridor is an 8A boulder in La Capelle-Masmolène, 7 minutes from my home. I have been bouldering there for years and always thought I would never reach the level necessary to tick an 8A in this area. There aren’t many 8A problems in the little forest, and they all are quite difficult, not working towards my strengths. 

 

The Corridor has a crux move with a non-existent slopper which, time and time again, I have tried to hang on to but failed. Clearly, if I ever had the ambition to make that boulder, I would need to improve on sloppers, to be able to hold and lock on that terrible hold. Finally, with a couple of months of lockdown, I decided to focus on working specifically for that boulder. 8A was a big number that I had only reached once before, in Spain, and I really liked the idea of doing a boulder I had been so convinced I would never ever do. Finally, I managed the Corridor, and even the Corridor Extension, and on that day, despite all the days of effort, and my tiny little progress, inch after inch, I was still amazed that it was me on top of the boulder. 

 

 

My achievement wouldn’t come through a grade, though; for a long time, I have realized grades are all relative. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it is a 9c or 7c; no one cares! It’s only climbing. It can only be for MY pleasure that I decide to put myself through fear, tiredness, and then, hope, and belief, which all turn into a passion. Of course, over the two days that I worked the route, I had quite a few moments where I despaired in figuring out a method. I also went to bed those nights, asking myself why I was doing this. But then, waking up at 5 am to beat the afternoon sun, I itched to put my hands on the rock, savored the idea that I could only rely on myself to get the rope up; this project reawakened the climber that I am.

 

I came home with precise sequences in my head and the knowledge that if I trained, visualized, and prepared, I had a chance to link it all. I knew training would be challenging, especially motivating for another endurance lap through the summer heat. But I was finding myself again, finding my space to be a climber and a good mum. 

 

I returned to the route with James a month later while the grandparents took care of Arthur. Part of me wondered why we were leaving our baby, and we both felt a bit empty without him jumping around the van. But then in the early morning, I put my game face on, James transformed into Mr. Perfect Belayer, and the fun began. In the (8b), I had no idea if I had the necessary endurance, but in a month’s training, I had noticed that it was all coming back quickly. I climbed precisely without a single mistake. I have no idea how it happened–maybe being a parent and having little time forced me to improve my efficiency. The (7b), the first (8a), the (5c) it all went smoothly. Then, in the last (8a), I made a few mistakes. I forgot a few methods, and there was a moment at the very end, where I realized I had to make the right decision very fast, or I would be off, and maybe not have the energy to try the pitch again.

 

 

It is here that I faced my old friend, the fear of failing; every climber has to find a way of dealing with this. When I was a competition climber, I used to tell myself to focus closer on the pleasure of the movements. This time, with my forearms about to explode, and while I was struggling to slow my breathing on a relatively restful tuffa, I could see in my mind Arthur dancing to his favorite music. With that, I realized that falling would be ok; failing was indeed not that sad. Accepting the possibility of not doing it gave me the energy to finish the pitch and scrape my way to the belay. One more (6b), and I had done it, I was again the climber I wanted to be! I had proven to myself that there was a balance between being a mum and a climber. That even the joy of my little one could give me strength for climbing that I hadn’t had before.

 

I'd love to tell you James and I drove back home playing Une Jolie, but that would be too whimsically poetic. After all, ticking the climb for its name or notoriety is not the experience I was after. Plus, James hates the song, but James's story of understanding French poetry, and as I say, “truly” becoming French, is another story altogether.

 

 

Written by Caroline Ciavaldini

 

 

Stage 6- Buoux

We stayed four days at the "Auberge des Seguins," which is a perfect location to go to the crags on foot. They even let us take our dinners outside by the bedroom while the baby was already in Bed. Buoux doesn't need any publicity. It is a unique, incredible crag, and there is a reason for its Fame. Buoux is a Must visit". No matter what your level is, you will find a gem to climb!

 

Stage 7- Mouries

Mouries is a long way from Buoux, and we had initially planned some extra stops. But the heatwave had begun, and the other planned spots were not as exciting. So, instead of climbing stops, we biked for two days, visited an abandoned troglodyte village (les grottes de cales), and loved it!

 

Mouries again is an old lady, and if you can get away from requiring extremely tough grades and enjoy the technical climbing, you will love it. Mouries is a climbing lesson in itself.

 

Route 1 - Fingerboard

I have always struggled to believe that just by hanging on a hold, you improve on it. Except it does work. I learned this lesson by simply hanging on my fingerboard slopers. This time though, I needed to specifically improve on a very vague sloper, which I could not even hang on at first. As I tried, I began to understand that it would also require core muscles, not that I needed more core, but rather that I needed to understand precisely which core muscles to recruit. 

 

So I began hanging on the worst sloper on my board, with one hand on a lower jug and a resistance band under my feet. I would do 5-second hangs with 2-second rests repeating 5 times for a set. I would repeat this four times. I never pushed hard, but I would do the same exercise three times a week. Eventually, I removed the resistance band, and in time, I had both hands on the bad sloper. 

 

 
 
 

Route 1 - Resistance Band

I only ever use the resistance band to rebalance my muscles to help avoid injuries. To work on this sloper, I not only needed to be able to hold the hold, but I also needed to be able to lock off on it. The move was a left-hand lock with a right toe hook so, I included a few harder right and left-hand movements in my training to keep my body balanced. 

 

To train for this, I attached a resistance band above my head for pull-downs while toe hooking the side of a wooden ladder that goes to a loft. To explain further, if I were doing pull-downs with my right arm, then my right foot would be flat on the floor, I would crimp a ladder rung at mid-torso height with my left fingers, and toe hook a lower ladder rung with my left foot. I would repeat the pull-down movement ten times, continually focussing on how my core muscles felt, which part of the core I was engaging, and imagining how the movements come from the toes to my core. I would repeat this for 4 sets, three times a week.  

 

Route 1 - Visualization

Every morning I practiced little visualization exercises. In my mind, I would place myself on the left sloper with my right toe pulling and my left foot on a hold. Then I would imagine myself doing the movement, pulling hard on the toe and locking everything on my left side while looking straight at the arrival hold until I grab it. 

 

I did this for minutes a few, entirely focused on the task, and then I would move on to my day.

 

 
 
 

Route 2 - Fingerboard

With long exercises on a fingerboard, you can get a semblance of endurance. I begin with four sets of reps that cycled 5-second hangs on the best holds, 2 seconds rest, 5-second hangs. Then I would immediately move on to a smaller hold with the same sequence, progressing until I used the smallest holds on the board. I would repeat the exercise 5 times, resting 5 minutes in between complete rounds of holds. This simulates the movements in a route, replacing the locks with the brief rest each time you switch holds.

 

Route 2 - Resistance Band

For the resistance band, I created a full routine of many exercises to recruit a variety of different muscles. Some exercises required using both hands simultaneously, which helps simulate climbing without locking off. One example I did is an Iron Crosses, where you move the band from low to high and then open and close your arms (you can do this both in the front and back). Other exercises require just using a single arm as the band is attached to a wall; this is also beneficial as you can focus on engaging muscles singularly as you would on a crux section. An example of this would be doing single-arm rows. 

 

 I would find the right distance for a low-intensity exercise, with 10 reps of each hand. I repeated the routine 3 times, with 15 minutes rest in between. Over time, I increased the resistance band's stretch to make the excesses harder and then changed to a harder resistance band. It's important to remember for both of these exercises that you begin in a stable, balanced position, with your hips rotated forward to protect your back.

 

 
 
 

Route 2 - Visualization 

I visualized the route a lot. I would start by running through the whole sequence of movements. Then I would go very slowly and precisely over the first intense sequence. I visualized every detail– hands, feet, breath, where I would chalk up, and where I would clip. I even visualized being surprised because no matter how much you know a route, every attempt will be slightly different, and every time you climb, you will be surprised by a little detail. For example, a hold may feel better than you remembered, and you begin feeling confident, or even overconfident, and then on the next move, reality hits and surprises you with moves that are hard. If you are not ready to be surprised, you will waste many attempts with silly mistakes that are simply the results of your surprise. By imagining the surprises, you can anticipate your emotions and be ready when they happen.

 

I also imagined arriving very tired at the last hard move but still making an effort to give my everything without allowing space to only think, "that was a good attempt, I am too tired now, but I will still try the move for practice." Instead, I visualize the exact necessities of the move, pulling hard on my toe, locking every little muscle on my right bicep, and looking straight to the last hold. Listening to your body or emotions isn't relevant anymore at this stage of the climb; I find it more efficient to focus on the perfect movement.

 

 
 
 

 

La Théorie des Cordes (8c); ST léger du Ventoux, FR

 

I only recently set my eyes on this route when I searched for a route that would be at my hardest level. I wanted to prove to myself that I was "back to met best" as a climbing mum. It was actually Siebe Vanhee who pushed me to look at it just after he completed it.

 

The route begins as soon as you leave the floor with a very difficult and resistant section. Then you get a reasonably lousy rest before moving into another resistant section that takes you into a very hard move. After all of this, the route closes with a long section where you could still fall if you made a mistake. To complete the climb, I not only needed a relatively high level of pure strength to manage every move, but it also required excellent power-endurance and overall endurance.

 

For this, my training would never entirely rely on a fingerboard and a resistance band, as it is challenging to build up endurance and power-endurance in the forearms with only two tools. Still, I began with these to make sure my body was ready to handle a further training stage. I used the fingerboard to create a base-endurance and finger-power-endurance and the resistance band to build up general muscles.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Une Jolie Fleur dans une Peau de Vache (8b) 300m; Verdon, FR

 

Projecting a multi-pitch as a parent isn't an easy task. You have to find a climbing partner while your husband takes care of your child, or you need a good nanny. Because of this, as I looked for several days for a new multi-pitch project, I wasn't searching for an easy one; I wanted to use my time well, and I knew Une Jolie Fleur dans une Peau de Vache would a serious challenge for me, at 8b max and 3-pitches in the 8th grade, but I went for it. 

 

The first time I went on the route, I had to have words with myself just to be able to finish and reach the top; I was miles away from success. To complete the line, I would need a higher level of overall endurance to swallow all of the hard pitches, along with good lock-off endurance for the crux pitch that was steep, demanding continuous arm locks and a strong core. But I wasn't turned away from this experience–I was amazed at the climbing quality, and every tuffa was perfect. I was far away from finishing the line, but the experience left me ready to work hard for it.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Route 3 - Fingerboard 

I used my fingerboard jugs as my go-to training partner, and we would meet three times per week. I was going for the most painful exercise, but also the most efficient– pull-up endurance.

 

For this, I would do four consecutive pull-ups. The first pull-up, I would go up and lock at 30 degrees for 3 seconds, lower and go up again, locking at 90-degrees, then lower again and go up locking at 120 degrees (chin just above the fingerboard), and then finally finish the set with one last regular pull up. I would then directly start the set again without my feet even touching the floor. If I am fit, I can do the whole thing four times. But it hurts. None-the-less, it works miracles.

 

 
 
 

Route 3 - Resistance Band  

The resistance band was just a background exercise to ready my full body for a big day of climbing. I use this routine or varying degrees often to recruit different muscles. For this route, knowing I had a long day of climbing, I used the same exercise as on  La Théorie des Cordes. Again, I focused some movements on using both hands simultaneously and others on single arm movements. These exercises included Iron Crosses, where you move the band from low to high and then open and close your arms (you can do this both in the front and back) as well as one-arm rows. 

 

For Une Jolie Fluer,  I kept the intensity quite low but aimed for a very high volume to build my muscle endurance. I repeated the exercises 5 times, with 15 minutes rest in between each set. Each week I would do these exercises three times.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Route 3 - Visualization 

I trained mentally by visualizing the three hard pitches, movement after movement, and also imagining myself at the end of the day, with one last 8a to do. I knew I would possibly need several tries to do this final pitch and that I would need to keep my spirits high to have a chance of success. So, I imagined having just fallen off the last section of the 8a and lowering back, settling to rest a bit, drink, eat, and find within myself the strength to have a good go again. I imagined beginning to climb and feeling tired, but giving it all, and being very focused on every movement to be as perfect as possible, and making it to the top.

 

 
 
 

 

Over the past year with our limited access to climbing gyms and training facilities it has become increasingly difficult to prepare for the climbs that fuel our motivation and imagination. Before the pandemic many of us spent countless hours in the gym climbing and training. As well as, getting tips and tricks on training for specific styles of climbs in person from our communities. In search of a simpler way to train at home, we have proposed a challenge to the Wild Country athletes to help all of the Pure Climbing community refocus your training for when sunnier days allows you to get back to your project.

 

Welcome to the Triple Training Challenge. With only a fingerboard, resistance band, and the use of mental training we have challenged our athletes to devise a plan to prepare for three routes they have projected in the past. They will showcase the significant challenge each route presented to them and how they would have applied this information to prepare physically and mentally for their ascent. You can use these tips to breakdown your own routes and apply the specific techniques to your own training.

 

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TRIPLE TRAINING CHALLENGE

by Caroline Ciavaldini

  

10 minute read

 

Over the past year with our limited access to climbing gyms and training facilities it has become increasingly difficult to prepare for the climbs that fuel our motivation and imagination. Before the pandemic many of us spent countless hours in the gym climbing and training. As well as, getting tips and tricks on training for specific styles of climbs in person from our communities. In search of a simpler way to train at home, we have proposed a challenge to the Wild Country athletes to help all of the Pure Climbing community refocus your training for when sunnier days allows you to get back to your project.

 

Welcome to the Triple Training Challenge. With only a fingerboard, resistance band, and the use of mental training we have challenged our athletes to devise a plan to prepare for three routes they have projected in the past. They will showcase the significant challenge each route presented to them and how they would have applied this information to prepare physically and mentally for their ascent. You can use these tips to breakdown your own routes and apply the specific techniques to your own training.