We, too, have a coach named Don! Here at SquamishCLIMBER.com, we are proud to introduce Don McGrath, our very own, in-house climbing coach, a published author (e.g. Vertical Mind and many more) and internationally-known coach. In Don’s words…
“Since..1995, I have been experimenting with and studying physical and mental training for rock climbing. I created this blog to share what I have learned with you, and to help you find that same in-the-zone state that I found that day on the Rostrum.”
DON’s BLOG: Rock Climbing Technique & Training for Rock Climbers
This story is what inspired me to start on my journey from climber to climbing coach. It was on The Rostum’s North face in Yosemite. I was climbing with my good friend and climbing partner Walt Heenan. This route loomed large on both of our tick lists and there we were on the 8th pitch, having freed all but the 5.11c crux pitch, three pitches below. On that pitch, I happened to take a fall at the very top of the finger crack, but did it again quickly on my second try. The 5.11b pitch above looked long and a bit intimidating. We were climbing well though, having spent about a week in the Valley. (I always found that nothing could substitute for time in Yosemite Valley when it comes to building crack climbing technique and endurance.)
It was my lead, and after swapping gear and getting situated, I started climbing. Initially, the route took me up towards a roof, which I skirted on its left. I traversed left, out to a fairly thin crack that climbed more like a face climb than a crack. A few tricky moves got me up to the hand crack, which was situated in a shallow corner and was oh, so steep. I consciously placed gear and plied my crack climbing skills for a distance, feeling really in a groove. I then came to a spot where the crack widened to where I could not jam anymore, but I could see that 5 feet overhead, the crack constricted again.
Ah, this must be the “Pod” my friend Fred had mentioned to me a few weeks ago when I told him that Walt and I were planning to do The Rostrum. There have been many times when I have hit a spot like the Pod and been stumped, only to hang on the rope after getting gassed. Not on this day.
I placed a good piece of gear at the base of the pod, then looked around to see how I could climb past it. Without a whole lot of pondering, I back stepped a hold behind me, levered high off a right hand jam, and reached up to the crack at the top of the Pod. Done. The elation shot through my body like electricity, as I knew I had unlocked the demanding crux, high up on this route that held a deep meaning for me.
The remainder of the route was great, but what strikes me most is, how on that day, I climbed effortlessly. There are many times that I have crashed and burned when trying a route that’s hard for me. What is the difference? Is it strictly that I was in good physical shape? I don’t think I was in exceptional shape. Was it my state of mind? Maybe, but probably not that alone. In my mind, the difference is that I had the right combination of physical and mental state, and I was on a route that inspired me to be at my best.
Since that day in 1995, I have been experimenting with and studying physical and mental training for rock climbing. I created this blog to share what I have learned with you, and to help you find that same in-the-zone state that I found that day on the Rostrum as often as you possibly can.
I’m sure that you have your “Rostrum Story”. A time when you experience that flow state. There is nothing like it, is there? I will be bringing you a wealth of training advice, tips, and tools to help you rapidly and vastly improve your rock climbing ability. I hope you like what I have to offer.