What does one need to climb hard? There are a multitude of factors: talent, ape index, experience, skill, strength, optimal weather conditions, optimal mental conditions, luck… the list could go on. We boil it all down to the three key factors that climbers need for success.
Wanna know how to climb hard? Here are three things you need to climb hard:
Much of climbing success is dependent upon technique and skill, which is relatively the easiest key to climbing well because all it takes is a good coach and practice. Knowing how to balance your weight, execute proper footwork, the subtleties of hip-turning and flagging like it’s the Fourth of July can transform what seems like an insanely difficult climb to a much more attainable ascent.
As you progress in the grading scale, pure physical strength becomes much more important – especially on steeper walls. Upper body strength is obviously beneficial (see Alex Puccio), but having a solid core and good body awareness is just as integral. With dedication, strength can be slowly increase from diligent training for those who aren’t natural athletes.
The most elusive key (and perhaps the most important) to climbing hard is mental fortitude: to have the courage to push your boundaries and the presence of mind to stay calm when you’re fifteen feet off the ground, precariously balanced on one foot, sweating profusely and the next hold seemingly miles away. The barrier you’re facing here is all in your mind, which makes it both completely non-existent and at the same time completely terrifying. The upside is that you can break your fears with the same mind that placed them there in the first place.
Yeah, yeah – you might say – this is all fairly obvious. You must be strong, skilled and not chicken out to get to the top of a wall. But there is an elusive, intangible element that is so key to climbing hard. It’s more than passion, it’s about who you are as a person. Apart from dedication and obsession, it’s about having a fire in your belly to succeed, to progress, and that spark to push yourself beyond your limits.
It’s about your spirit, who you are as a person, and the ineffable drive to break boundaries. The way a person climbs can be fairly indicative of who they are as a person – are you timid and analytical? Are you aggressive and brutish? How does your climbing style define you? How can climbing push you as a person?