Yesterday I decided that I would make a free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley my Long Term Climbing Goal.
It’s an idea that I’ve been kicking around for a little while now. I decided that I wanted to get more serious about climbing in January and after completing a few general fitness workout regimens I figured it was time to get more specific. As soon as I heard about Michael and Mark Anderson’s The Rock Climber’s Training Manual: A Guide to Continuous Improvement I went out and bought the damn thing and started poring over the truly impressive body of research that the Anderson’s have compiled.
While I will be returning to the nitty gritty of training as outlined by the book later (and frequently), I was initially captured by their second chapter, “Goal-Setting.” In it, the Andersons assert that setting a concrete goal is critical to training effectively. Because rock climbing has such an incredible variety of movement and strength requirements depending on the particular route, saying simply, “I want to climb 5.12” or something along those lines is not specific enough. On pg. 26 they write:
“One of the primary purposes of goal-setting is to help define a desired end-state, in order to direct the climber’s training plan. ‘To climb a 5.12’ is too generic to provide much useful information. Will ‘a 5.12’ require good pinch strength, improved endurance, or better gear-placing skills? The goal as written could entail anything from a 20-foot horizontal-roof deep-water solo, to a one-thousand-foot sixty-degree slab on marginal gear. These objectives require very different skillsets, and so would require very different paths to improvement. The goal selected should be specific enough to help define the exact skillset of interest (emphasis mine).”
I’ll admit to being a little butthurt at first reading that. I got into (or rather back into) climbing around the time I had a full time job that required me to work weekends with almost no flexibility and extremely limited time off options. How could I be expected to get out and climb on real rock to find a worthy specific goal when my schedule barely allowed even for gym sessions?