We all start out as climbers. Then, we start to coin ourselves as boulderers, leaders, speeders/speedsters; static climbers, dynamic climbers; slab-gods, dyno-gods, crimp-gods, pinch-gods, sloper-gods; etc.
I, for one, am a jug-god.
Haha, kidding. Well, for me, I started out doing all three aspects– speed, lead and boulder — as expected of every Xinmin Climber. Along the way, however, I’ve chosen to specialise in Boulder and Speed, in order of favouritism of course.
I’m more of a dynamic climber. Why? I was 149cm tall (or rather, short), when I first started climbing. Everything was out of reach. What’s worse? I was such a whiny little kid. My poor coaches and seniors had to tolerate my complaints, but yet they pushed me on. Jump after jump. Flapper after flapper. Tape after tape. Failure after failure. Today, I am thankful, for it has done my dynamic skills good.
Slab-god, dyno-god, crimp-god, pinch-god, sloper-god, etc. I am none of these. I do not dare say I am a “Jack of all trades but master of none” as well. My climbing movement, I would say, is the best skill I’ve got.
One could argue that we should all strive to be climbers. Not boulderers, not leaders, not speeders, but climbers. Climbers that strive for excellence in all three aspects.
Others argue that it is better to focus all your efforts on one aspect.
Some even argue that Speed Climbing is not climbing. It’s just a form of climbing created to entertain.
I argue — that we should have fun with a constant drive for excellence.
And constantly driving for excellence– training in order words, however, is not always fun.
I believe one should try to do all three forms of climbing, for each has something to teach us. I do not mean that we need to spend equal time on or be equally good at each. I am suggesting to use each form of climbing as a training tool. Therefore, even though I prefer boulder and speed, I lead as well.
Leading improves your mental strength, physical endurance and static movement, which may translate to help bouldering and speeding.
Bouldering develops power and movement for leading and speeding.
Speeding develops power, coordination and precise movement for bouldering and leading.
This list is not exhaustive.
Similarly, one should train to be good at all types of grip and style of climbing. Let’s not forget flexibility here.
I believe possessing an identity is a good thing. However, your identity is most likely just what you are best at. Therefore, one should always try to step out of the comfort zone and targetweaknesses in order to strive for excellence.
In another note, I feel that while it is definitely possible to be a master of all three, it is difficult to do so. One main reason being Body Types. A speeder and boulderer would require more power, and hence tends to be bulkier with more muscle fibres as compared to a leader who would be leaner and lighter.
Progress — Mental Progress
I started out climbing, just climbing — following my gut and doing whatever my body told me to do. If I couldn’t do a move, I would say, “I’m just not strong enough”.
Then, I moved on to climbing, using my brains. Simple technique — tripod, alternate hands and legs, dropknee, etc. Then, complex technique — also known as micro beta — feet positioning on a single tile, close-crimp vs. open-crimp, squaring your hips against the wall, etc. At this point, I would say, “maybe I just have the wrong beta”.
After which, I realise that climbing is much more a mental game. Sure, you need to be physically strong, but it does not end there. The mind is much stronger than the body. If you believe you can, you are halfway there. It is also the ability of overcoming your fears. Keeping your composure. Picking yourself up from failures. Recomposing yourself. Fighting your best on the wall. Always.
This progress is accumulative.
Climbing is a game of strength, technique and mental grit.
Milestones play a big part in spurring one’s passion on.
Every individual defines their own milestones.
For me, it’s divided into mental progress, recognition, grade achievements, competition achievements and exposure.
- Mental progress — as written above.
- One for me, is to have overcome the mental barrier of lead falling. To focus on the route instead of focusing on not falling. You may laugh, but I’m sure you have had the same issue as well.
- Recognition — friends, families and climbing scene.
- Having Onsight Climbing Gym approach to sponsor me in 2015 was a delightful surprise, and has played a huge part in fueling my passion ever since.Photo by Allison Menon.
- Grade Achievements — climbing grades and speed personal-bests.
- To me, climbing V7 for bouldering indoor and outdoor is an achievement. (One, that I am hoping to break soon at The Grampians!)
- Speed PB — 11.7s (I am quite the slow-twitch climber and find it hard to improve. I have put in a lot of hard work into training for speed, thus this is an achievement I am proud of despite it being nowhere near the fastest in the world)
- Competition Achievements — medals and representation.
- Not going to lie, constantly winning in my age category was a major boost in my confidence and definitely did keep me going. Now that I am in the senior/open category (since this year), it is a whole new ball game
- Seeing my rank improve competition by competition in the Open Category has also kept me going. Sustaining an injury took my many steps back, but I am now ready to climb that ladder again!
- Winning Nationals and having the privilege and honour to represent Singapore(since 2012) has widened my horizons. It has shown me time and time again how GINORMOUS the room for improvement is.World Youth Climbing Championships 2012, my first time representing Singapore! Photo by Garick Bay.
- Exposure — trying out all kinds of climbing.
- I tried TRAD-CLIMBING. Then did my first ever MULTI-PITCH ON TRAD. All in one day. My heart was pounding but I am stoked to have experienced it!Photo by Melissa Edwards.
There is so much more to these 3 topics and I feel like I am barely scraping the surface. But these are my thoughts for now.
To end this off, can I just say that I AM ABSOLUTELY PSYCHED after watching Pumpfest, Boulderactive and Transend?! I miss competing in Singapore terribly (I am currently studying in Australia) and will be sure to fly back next year to compete!!
(Featured photo by Mr. Yam Choon Hian)