Watch Stu Smith free-solo Kangaroo Corner 5.11 in Squamish. This short route is a popular line at the Smoke Bluffs and often climbed sans rope by those who know the beta. Smith has established some of the west coast’s most serious trad routes, follow him on Instagram below.
New Brunswick has a number of new hard sport routes at Hampton Marsh that have been bolted and climbed this spring. Seb Pacey-Smith is a top Maritime climber who’s established routes like Cipher, which is likely the hardest rock climb at 5.14c on Canada’s east coast.
Hampton Marsh was had spurts of development over the past decade with Peter Adamson adding routes to Monster and Main Wall back in 2012. Other climbers like François and Emily Côté, Ian Lingley and the late Cory Hall have developed climbs. Pacey-Smith and friends rediscovered the area’s potential and have added a number of new routes. You can find them all online here.
Some of the new lines include: Balrog 5.14b, Frankenstein’s Monter 5.14a, Pumpkin Head 5.13c, Lockdown 5.13c and Speaking Moistly 5.12b. The topo says: “As with any of the areas in Hampton Marsh, the rock quality is not always the best and helmets are recommended.” Check out some of Pacey-Smith’s videos of the new routes below.
Also of note in New Brunswick is the reopening of the Fredericton Bouldering Co-op which you can read more about here.
Research is integral to proper training. Over the last 40 years, climbing has seen a transformation from an outdoor recreational activity to an Olympic Sport. Though free climbing has been around for over a century, the introduction of competition climbing in 1986 accelerated its growth dramatically.
Until the 1980s, climbing was daring and defined by technical prowess instead of athletic power. Athletes such as Jerry Moffatt and Wolfgang Güllich pioneered a new age of hard rock climbing with their modern strategies. Not only did they add fitness to climbing, they changed the literal rules by which people climbed.
Bolted routes became common across all western countries and allowed athletes an infinity of attempts on the most difficult portions of their climbs. Though bolts were revolutionary, it would take the evolution of ethics to allow climbers isolated attempts on these ‘crux’ sections. Routes no longer required the athlete to try from the ground every time they wished to pull onto the wall. Suddenly climbers could solve problems quickly and complete routes faster than before.
In addition to the changing ethical landscape of climbing, Moffett’s introduction of physical training in addition to climbing had real value. Pull-ups revolutionized the sport and blazed the way for Güllich’s Campus Board in 1988.
The introduction of competitive climbing also increased the demand for new training tools. These tools paired well with bouldering, and supported its popularization. Though bouldering had also been around for over a century, the modern discipline allowed for climbers to explore the limits of finger- and grip-strengths. Today, climbers have become so strong that that flashes of V14 and 5.15a have occured.
Though difficulty has increased by virtue of training, the science behind climbing is still relatively new. Companies such as Lattice Climbing and C4HP represent a new age of information-based coaching, each completing their own research in their pursuit of strength. They are not alone. In fact the last three years have seen an increase in the number of publications regarding climbing training.
The Beta Angel Project has curated a collection of these papers, each designed to educate climbers. According to their website, “The Beta Angel Project stems from a vision to inspire more rock climbing research, provide a platform for new ideas, translate research into practical application, and provide a view into the academic world of the climbing community. The project is supported by individuals who are putting their time and energy into growing the rigor behind rock and competition climbing.”
A collection such as this indicates a strong future for climbing.
View this post on Instagram
COACHING THE COACHES!! 🤓🤓🤓 We’ve been asked about this for quite some time, so we’re extremely psyched to finally put it in the diary. Sorry we’ve kept you all waiting! This one’s pretty unique as it’s being run by us, for all you coaches out there – we want to share more of a “professional level” of experience and context to the coaching process. It’s longer than other webinars and will involve both prepared and live Q&A in the session. 👉👉 Detail of webinar date and time – 7:30pm BST 3rd June 2020 In this webinar @tompaulrandall and @ollietorr, will be sharing their professional coaching experiences with a “coach-only” audience. What is unique about this webinar, is that it’s delivered BY coaches FOR coaches, so the content will be more oriented towards the working professional. They’re going to be sharing the wealth of their experience from the front line, covering some of the main topics of contention in the coaching industry. This webinar will be slightly longer (90 mins) than the usual format and will have two of the main topics pre-determined so attendees know specifically what’s on offer. 🔥🔥Hot topic 1: Coaching junior athletes 🔥🔥Hot topic 2: How to work remotely with clients 🔥🔥Open topics: By request, answered live in the webinar Both topics 1 & 2, will be run in the format of a discussion by Tom and Ollie on their main experiences within these two areas, sharing their insights to some of the most important and effective ways to work with climbers. Each topic will include a Q&A section so you are able to delve deeper and understand the nuances of the detail. The final “open” topic will be decided on the basis of topics which are requested from each attendee ahead of the event. After each webinar, you will be sent a link to the recording of the webinar along with a resource sheet detailing the topics covered. Please note that this webinar is for coaches ONLY. We expect and welcome attendance from both junior and adult climbing coaches! #climbingtraining #moonboard #climbing_is_my_passion #tradclimbing #sportclimbing #bouldering #gritstone #ukclimbing #indoorclimbing #latticetraining #latticer #climbing_lovers #climbingcoach
A post shared by Lattice Training (@latticetraining) on May 28, 2020 at 6:14am PDT
If you have worked in a gym or at a pool or anywhere that requires first-aid certifications, you have probably heard of RICE. It’s an acronym that stands for Rest Ice Compression Elevation as defined by Dr. Mirkin, the author of the term in 1978 with in Sportsmedicine Book.
According to Mirkin, ice has been a standard treatment for injuries and sore muscles because it helps relieve pain. Anyone that has used ice can probably attest to the truth of that statement.
Not only is pain reduced but ice reduces swelling dramatically. The reason for this is that ice cools and thereby constricts the blood vessels that are filling the damaged area, causing it to swell. In a 2015 article, Dr. Mirkin said, “A summary of 22 scientific articles found almost no evidence that ice and compression hastened healing over the use of compression alone, although ice plus exercise may marginally help to heal ankle sprains (The American Journal of Sports Medicine, January, 2004;32(1):251-261).” You can find his article here.
When you damage tissue via trauma or overuse, you heal by using your immunity, the same mechanism that your body uses to kill germs. This process is called inflammation. Inflammation presents as pain and swelling in the body, but your body requires it to heal. Mirkin said, “When muscles and other tissues are damaged, your immunity sends the same inflammatory cells to the damaged tissue to promote healing. Inflammatory cells rush to injured tissue to start the healing process (Journal of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Vol 7, No 5, 1999).”
By virtue of this fact, it might be easy to see how ice keeps healing cells from entering injured tissue. To that effect, anything that reduces inflammation will also delay healing.
Icing and Climbing
So what do we mean by inflammation reducing substances? Dr. Mirkin says, “Anything that reduces your immune response will also delay muscle healing. Thus, healing is delayed by:
- cortisone-type drugs,
- almost all pain-relieving medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Pharmaceuticals, 2010;3(5)),
- immune suppressants that are often used to treat arthritis, cancer or psoriasis,
- applying cold packs or ice, and
- anything else that blocks the immune response to injury. “
This is important to consider as many of these substances are frequently used in climbing. It is not uncommon to hear someone asking for the “Vitamin I” in relation to ibuprofen or to hear them aggressively icing to get over a finger injury. Cortisone injections have their place in regard to certain injuries/conditions (especially in relation to reduced cartilage and Dupuytren’s Contracture) but even still, they are not solutions, but buffers.
What is most important about all of this is to stop freezing your hands. Finger injuries are massively debilitating for climbers and they take a long time to heal from. Instead of icing, strive to complete mobility exercises and increase blood flow through heating them. That said, ice does have its place. If you are in exceptional pain directly after an injury, ice it. Dr. Mirkin says, “You could apply the ice for up to 10-minutes, remove it for 20-minutes, and repeat the 10-minute application once or twice. There is no reason to apply ice more than six hours after you have injured yourself.”
In that same vein, mobility exercises like pen-rolling, rice bucket, and a general warm-up on your rest days are also good for increasing blood flow. If you are injured and unsure of the severity or cause, consult a medical professional.
A climber got their leg stuck on St. Bernard on The Apron in Squamish and rescue crews used dish soap to free her let. St. Bernard is a new three-pitch 5.9 close to St. Vitus Dance with a few wide crack sections. Within 24 hours, Squamish rescue got four calls, including from hikers and a paddler.
The rescue took around five hours. “We were able to move a rope team in via helicopter and rappel down to her and with some dish soap and a lot of work we were able to free her leg,” said search manager BJ Chute. “It’s a first for us in a long time. It is an unusual thing.”
The rescue was called in at 10:30 a.m. Friday morning. “There’s always a risk of getting things stuck, and she was very, very stuck,” added search manager Tyler Duncan. “It took just brute strength and force and her grinning and bearing it and we were able to get her out.”
#BREAKING: @SquamishSAR has rescued a female climber in a remarkably technical rescue on the Stawamus Chief in #Squamish. Rescuers used dish soap to free her leg—which was wedged in a crack on a climb called The Apron. She’s been hospitalized. Full details to come on @GlobalBC. pic.twitter.com/po6jfyK8ow
— Sarah MacDonald (@smacdonald__) May 29, 2020
“Our team has gone from being not busy to being extremely busy,” said Chute. “It is unusual historically for us to do this many calls mid-week.” Rescue crews are appealing for people heading into the backcountry to ensure they are well prepared, and where possible, not to put themselves in dangerous situations.
“Anything you can do to avoid risk, at this time, and probably through the summer, we really need the public to take that extra caution.” In the Bugaboos, a number of rescues on the Kain route have taken place after climbers have gotten their leg stuck.
In the video below, top climber Jason Kruk requires assistance after getting his leg stuck on a climb called Boogie Till Ya Puke, which was renamed Boogie Till Ya Poop. Watch the video below to find out why.
View this post on Instagram
🚨SAR volunteers province-wide found “hope and comfort” in a 50% drop in calls during last month.. . But these numbers spiked 35% in the first week of May… . “We’re an active, healthy province. We’re used to being in a fast, higher gear, per say, and it’s time to come from fifth gear down to second gear. As we all go out there, I’d like everyone to think of the volunteers as well. They’re leaving their family to help you, which they will, they then have to come back to their family. So the more we can reduce the number and severity of those calls, the better for everyone.”—Sandra Riches, CEO AdventureSmart BJ Chute of Squamish SAR said while preparation is always key, anyone planning to go out into a situation where they may have to call search and rescue should be more prepared than ever. “Now is a very real time to hear that message and ensure they are taking the essentials with them on every trip.“ says Chute. We’re not here to say don’t go. When you do go, stay local, stay in your community”—Sandra Riches, CEO AdventureSmart . BE KIND – be kind to other communities and recreate in your own community. (this helps SAR as well). . BE CALM – be calm on the trails, create space for other users. . BE SAFE – be safe by being prepared for your activities, recreate locally, wear PPE and choose low risk activities. . BE ADVENTURESMART! . . 📸: @squamishsar . ➡️linkinbio for more on AdventureSmart: COVID19 and as always squamishaccess.ca for our own SAS resource⤴️
A post shared by Squamish Access Society (@squamishaccesssociety) on May 12, 2020 at 7:35am PDT
Boogie Till Ya Poop
Barrier Bluffs above Barrier Lake in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary has been a go-to crag for over 20 years, but the area is far from climbed out. The most popular wall has long been Yellow Wall.
A few Bow Valley climbers have established a new crag with around 10 routes up to 5.12. Mason Tessier, Ysbrand Nusse and others have built a number of nice looking routes at the new Cornerstone crag. Maddy Marchuk, who’s spent the past few summers making first ascents of 5.12 and 5.13 routes in the area, filmed a short video of Cornerstone which you can watch below.
“We’ve got nine new routes up there, mostly 5.11-5.12, and they’re all pretty high quality I think,” said Ysbrand.
View this post on Instagram
When we moved to Canada, I was nervous about was making new friends. Luckily, the first group of guys I met turned out to be the absolutely perfect crew for me. Mason, Maddy, and Marcus are all really talented climbers, but more importantly are super motivated. They get it done, and fast. It’s hard to keep up. Since the parks re-opened, we developed a new little cliff at Barrier called Cornerstone. Mason in particular put in a ton of work cleaning, building the belays and trail, and opening more than half of the routes, which of course are all the harder ones. Here is the man himself on my new route, Name of the Wind, 5.12a. It’s probably the best route I’ve ever bolted. We shot a little video of some of the routes, check out my link if you’re interested in seeing them. We’ve got 9 new routes up there, mostly 5.11-5.12, and they’re all pretty high quality I think.
A post shared by Ysbrand Nusse (@ysbrand_nusse) on May 30, 2020 at 6:17am PDT
In summer 2018, top Japanese climber Ryo Masumoto visited Squamish and got on The Shadow 5.13a, one of the most famous pitches in Canadian climbing. Peter Croft made the onsight first free ascent of The Shadow in 1988. At the time it was one of the most difficult trad pitches in Canada.
The grade of The Shadow has been suggested at 5.12d, and 5.13a, with most climbers agreeing that it’s 5.13a. Since the first free ascent, strong climbers such as Sonnie Trotter, Jasmin Caton, Brad Gobright, Brette Harrington, Jesse Huey, Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell and Will Stanhope have climbed it. In 2018 Em Pellerin onsighted it and in 2019, Nina Caprez onsighted it.
In 2016, Stanhope wrote a short essay titled Shadow Casting and in it said, “Every climber has an ascent that stands out to them. A gold standard climb that you strive emulate. For me, it’s Peter’s onsight of the Shadow. The sort of climb that makes you want to try your absolute best as opposed to weasel out the easy way. I fell short in climbing it first try. But the inspiration, like the perfect grey corner above Highway 99, remains.”
Ryo Masumoto on The Shadow
The Rock Oasis in Toronto is a popular climbing gym that recently took steps to open to the public. Their announcement of their soft reopening divided the online climbing community between “great idea” and “too soon due to the covid pandemic.” Rope climbing and bouldering is open to a limited number of people per session.
When you arrive, they get you to enter in through the back where you’ll meet an employee at a table. You’ll have to put your mask on and wear it from that point on. If you don’t have one, you can buy one for $5 before using the hand sanitizer and entering. Because you have to pre-register, your name will be on a list at the door.
Once inside, you scan your membership card at the front desk, which is wrapped in plastic. There are only a limited number of people allowed in with half of the routes set. Hand sanitizer areas are placed near the ropes and boulders. A few washrooms are open, but the locker room and kids’ area are closed. A few dozen climbers have visited over the past few days. Some members reported the holds were the cleanest they’d ever seen.
This week Nolwen Berthier from Aix en Provence, France climbed her first 5.14c with La Ligne Claire in St-Léger du Ventoux. Just yesterday, she made the first ascent of Stay Kratom, Stay Safe 5.14b at the same area.
La Ligne Claire was bolted by Franck Vilpini and is located in the aesthetic Praniania area. Berthier tried the route last winter, but injured a finger during an attempt. She trained during the covid lockdown and made quick work of it after restrictions were eased. The route has four cruxes with good rests between them. “It took me 10 sessions,” said Berthier.
Berthier, 26, competed in a number of IFSC World Cups between 2012 and 2018 with her best finish being 14th at Briancon in 2018.
Berthier on La Ligne Claire 5.14c
As climbing gyms and access to crags begin to reopen, many climbers are getting psyched, dusting off the chalk pot and awaiting that “We’re open!” post on social media. With all of the excitement, it can be easy to forget that many of us gotten weaker during isolation. That means that there is a potential for injury.
For those of us that entered isolation injured, the forced-rest gave our bodies time to recover. That said, many of us have likely lost some strength and there are consequences to an aggressive return to climbing. Here are a few things to consider as you build back into the sport.
Perhaps the most endangered and important part of the climber’s body are the fingers. Though tendons retain much of their tensile strength during rest, the muscles surrounding them will have atrophied. These muscles, the flexors and extensors of the forearm, become weaker after not climbing. Hangboarding does not absolve the athlete of this issue. Climbing allows these muscles an aerobic element that hangboarding does not provide. Your flexors are those muscles that allow your hand to contract while your extensors are those muscles that allow your hands to open as you move between holds.
Though tendon strength is essential to holding grips, the muscles supporting the tendons take on a lot of that stress. Add to the strain that additional stress that comes from weaker shoulders, biceps, and core. The fingers are now hanging with the most pressure they have felt since your body was this weak. The only difference is that the fingers are likely stronger than the rest of your body. It can feel like pulling hard is just as easy as it always was. In some cases, a climber might feel even stronger due to the muscle weight lost during a relatively sedentary isolation. As such, it is important to return to climbing slowly. Four-by-fours or limit bouldering might feel like the best way to return to climbing, but taking the time to avoid injury is more beneficial. Injury is the quickest way to lose strength.
Knee problems are more of an issue for boulderers and lead climbers than top rope climbers, but the information applies to all disciplines. Even for climbers that have spent all of quarantine training, nothing changes the fact that isolation forces a more sedentary lifestyle. That means less walking, less standing, and muscular atrophy. In the same way that our finger-tendons are supported by flexors and extensors, our knees are supported by our quadriceps and biceps femoris.
If a climber returns to heal-toe cams, heel-hooks, toe-hooks, and drop knees without rehabbing their leg strength, they may find their joints weakened and unstable. Additionally, falling is risky at the best of times. It is made more risky as a result of weak joints. You may have been able to take thick diggers before isolation, but perhaps a bit of rehab is required before returning to 30-foot whippers or slamming into crash pads.
Elbows and Wrists
We should appreciate that we may have attained a muscular imbalance. For climbers’ arms, that can mean large biceps compared to smaller triceps or large flexors compared to small extensors. When our biceps are unsupported by our triceps, we put additional load onto our elbows. Without maintenance, this leads to tendonitis in the elbow. Similarly, if we allow our flexor muscles to grow to an imbalanced degree, it puts unwanted stress on our wrists. In both cases, the stress results from constant strain, unbalanced by the weaker opposing muscle which should be working to keep the elbows and wrists pulled back into a neutral position.
Exercises to prevent injury:
Ease into climbing slowly. Work your way back into routes or boulders of lower grades before even attempting those of greater difficulty.
Complete sets of squats until pistol squats, a one-legged variation of the squat, become manageable.
Complete elbows-back push-ups.
Climb on pinches, but gently. Strive to pump-out your upper forearm. Do not complete limit bouldering when your forearms are pumped. A rice bucket provides similar benefits and is one of the safest ways to strengthen the wrists.