/ Is bouldering enough?

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asteclaru 03 Oct 2019

I've been going to The Castle on a regular basis for 2 years now. But no more.

I've finally had enough of the ridiculous overcrowding, the cold in the winter, the unbearable heat in the summer, filling your lungs with chalk dust due to the poor ventilation and so on...

The straw that broke the camel's back was last night, when there were easily three times more people than the wall can actually support in there, everyone fighting for every single inch of the wall. Seriously, you couldn't even warm up properly as you had to queue up for every single thing. It's always been bad in there, but I don't recall it ever being this bad. Even the new traverse wall in the Pump Room had people queueing for laps.

So I've cancelled my membership. The problem with that though, is that there aren't any viable alternatives for roped climbing in London, as Westway is just as bad and White Spider is way out in the sticks.

Which leaves bouldering walls as the only feasible option. I live quite close to HarroWall and every time I've been in there it's been quite good, with no crowds and decent setting. So I'll probably start mainly going there from now on.

Which, I guess, brings me to my question: is bouldering on its own enough to both improve your overall climbing and 'satisfy the desire to climb'? To give some context, I don't particularly like indoor climbing, and bouldering even less, but I do it to train for the 'real thing'. I'll still go to The Castle occasionally, if I can find a partner for weekend mornings, but I'll switch to bouldering as my main form of climbing training.

Anyone done anything similar? How did it affect your overall climbing and any tips for maximizing your sessions?

Thanks

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Max factor 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

sorry to break it to you but London bouldering walls can be pretty busy too ; )

And to answer your question, yes, trying hard at bouldering is better for progressing your climbing than doing roped climbing alone. 

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Philoosh 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

Most of the time its just as bad in the bouldering venues. I've cancelled my membership at Red Spider recently due to the same issue. Too many people. Not enough staff to support and educate. Too many kids running around under people. Too many mat sitters that like to prop under a section and not move. The shirtless ones etc.

For me I can get a good session if I can stay on the wall long enough. Granted you dont get to train in the art of clipping in but if you are regimented enough then a small home woody can give you most of what you need. Something overhanging to really get the pump. You need to get a plan and stick to it rather than just walking up to a problem and mindlessly climbing it. Endurance and power moves in equal measure.

Laps on a 15 degree is good. Hand hovering above holds for 3-5 seconds in sustained positions is also good.

Good luck!

Post edited at 10:01
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JLS 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

I think most people will tell you that mainly bouldering will be beneficial to your climbing overall.

Personally, I think that needs to be caveated. To really reap the benefits of the increased strength and technique you will develop in a bouldering wall, at some point you will need to spend a chuck of time back on routes to get your endurance levels back up. In theory you can do endurancy stuff in the boulder wall but I generally find most of it impractical in a crowded bouldering wall.

The second thing I'd say is, long term, the repeated falling from height isn't great for your body. At your age you'll get away with it for years but as a climber of age I pretty much have to downclimb everything now which means I can't really work hard boulders and I'm in fact better off working on a rope on routes that are too hard for me to get an equivalent work-out.

Post edited at 10:25
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The Jazz Butcher 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

I don't bother doing routes inside anymore unless I'm going on a trip and then only for 1 month beforehand. However, endurance and power endurance can also be worked on a combination of a wooden training board, fingerboard and on a bouldering wall. So, going to a bouldering only centre with good training facilities and using it for both fun and training for routes is feasible.

I have a 32 degree, 2.4m wide and 2.3m high training board and a beastmaker 1000 mounted above the door in a spare room. Over the summer, when I get out on routes twice a week, I use that set up 2 or 3 times. Over the winter a little bit more, but still get out once week, weather dependent.

However, I do enjoy bouldering and going to a bouldering only centre when the weather is poor satisfy's my desire to climb.

Hope that helps.

TJB.

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Jon Stewart 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

Yes, basically. But it also depends on what you're training for IME.

I think generally you get more 'bang-for-buck' at the bouldering wall, since you're training strength and technique, which tend to be extremely useful in all climbing situations. Throw in some endurance training on a circuit board and you should be getting good all-round training for outdoors.

But...if the outdoor climbing you do is gritstone, then generally the bouldering wall is far far better than doing routes, because they're generally short technical cruxy routes (in fact, they're basically bouldering). On the other hand to get up Pembroke routes, I think stamina training (laps) on steep indoor routes is way better than anything you can do in the bouldering wall. Circuits are just too repetitive, and most of the time you're not going up!

I don't really know about training for sport routes, but my instinct would be that a scientitfic approach to using the bouldering wall would be best - finding weaknesses and targeting them is easier in a bouldering wall/training boards than on routes.

Post edited at 10:31
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UKB Shark 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

> Which, I guess, brings me to my question: is bouldering on its own enough to both improve your overall climbing and 'satisfy the desire to climb'? To give some context, I don't particularly like indoor climbing, and bouldering even less, but I do it to train for the 'real thing'. 

The answer is an unsatisfying ‘maybe’. It could be that the constraint to improvement for you is getting better at harder moves on cruxes in which case concentrating bouldering could see your lead grade massively improve. It could be that your constraint is something else such as fear of falling in which case it won’t. It maybe that you are equally balanced so it will only make a marginal difference. 

I focussed on bouldering as training for the real thing. Now I regard it as the real thing. Took several years mind.

At first it might seem that bouldering is a brute strength thing and for sure you will get physically stronger doing it. It is also immensely frustrating. The more fascinating stuff is the subtleties of movement and body positioning.

Anyway got to be a world better than queuing for routes.

Good luck

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In reply to asteclaru:

> Which, I guess, brings me to my question: is bouldering on its own enough to both improve your overall climbing and 'satisfy the desire to climb'? To give some context, I don't particularly like indoor climbing, and bouldering even less, but I do it to train for the 'real thing'. I'll still go to The Castle occasionally, if I can find a partner for weekend mornings, but I'll switch to bouldering as my main form of climbing training.

focusing on Bouldering will definitely get you stronger and likely improve technique too. as for "satisfaction" well that's a very personal thing, for me i am lucky enough to get out climbing trad regularly so indoors never really scratches the itch for me but for many people indoor bouldering definitely does!

my advice would be to set some goals that will make indoor bouldering more relevant to you, maybe visit Font (easy to get to from london)? this could open your eyes to its potential as well as give you some amazing goals to work towards in the boulder wall. 

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The Jazz Butcher 03 Oct 2019
In reply to UKB Shark:

> Anyway got to be a world better than queuing for routes.

Amen to that! I'd rather be training on my own at home than queuing for routes.

TJB.

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asteclaru 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

Some good stuff already  

To answer a few points: 

1. I always try to downclimb on boulder problems. At just over 16 stones, I don't like to think what repeatedly jumping from 3-4 metres, even on soft matting, would do to my knees. Plus, getting that antagonistic movement as well surely is good for your muscles.

2. Main goal would be to improve my technique and footwork. Second goal would be to improve my power (again, at 16+ stones, it takes a lot of power to do cruxy moves)

3. Harrowall has a decent, pretty long traverse wall - I intend to throw laps on that at the end of each session to work on my endurance. I know it's not the same as 'going upwards', but you do get a decent pump and it's better than nothing.

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The Jazz Butcher 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

That sounds reasonable. The only aspect I don't quite agree with is doing laps at the end of a bouldering session. Information I have read from a number of coaches is that it is not good to combine strength /  power sessions with endurance.

A low level stamina routine is OK, where the goal is 20 minutes of very, very easy climbing, but not to get pumped. However, from a route climbers mentality, that is not an easy thing to achieve. We want to get fu***ng pumped out of our minds! How can that not be a good thing?

TJB.

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asteclaru 03 Oct 2019
In reply to The Jazz Butcher:

Ok, maybe lap and not laps, and maybe every other session and not each one then

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Paul Sagar 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

I used to live in Cambridge, where there was no roped climbing at all, and for a long time only one (quite poor, usually over-crowded) bouldering gym. Yet I managed to progress in sport climbing (my one true outdoor love, in the days before I learnt trad) from red pointing 6b to 7a in about two years. This was purely from training in the bouldering wall.

To do this I had to get a bit creative, in particular by going when it was less busy and doing a lot of laps to build endurance (the dreaded ARC training), which was only possible when the gym was quiet. But for everything else - i.e. power, power-endurance, strength on the purely physical side; footwork, balance, etc on the technique side - the bouldering wall is probably better than just roped climbing.

My regular gym these days is Mile End, where the roped climbing is basically just long bouldering. (And where the grades are LOL because the setters are all boulderers primarily and to be fair the routes are very short and basically set and graded like boulders - great lines as a general rule but leave your ego at the door.) This year I managed to climb 7a onsight, my first 7a+, broke solidly into the E2 leading category and head pointed an E4. So yeah, training in bouldering gyms works.

However, it won't work if you just randomly climb the set problems. You have to train in a tailored way, using the facilities to develop endurance/strength/power/power-endurance specifically. This is fine for me as I don't really enjoy indoor bouldering all that much, so I have no problem using the gym purely as a training facility for outside climbing - sounds like you may be the same.

I do go to the Castle sometimes, but actually the main draw there is the pump room (better ARC facility than the polished nastiness of the Mile End traverse wall) and the campus board with the bigger rungs that allows me to campus safely at my level. The roped climbing is more just for fun with friends, although I do find it important to take falls on a regular basis lead climbing, so that I remain totally comfortable with taking the whip. I find that if I don't lead climb at least every 2 weeks I start to get nervous above the bolt - so often I'll lead climb and just deliberately not clip the belay and take a fall at the end of every route. You can't do that in a bouldering wall...

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Paul Sagar 03 Oct 2019

p.s. talking specifically about the overhanging lead wall at Mile End - the top-rope lines are all very amenable. I find the setting on the overhang quite brutal for the grades though!

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JLS 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

> Some good stuff already  

> To answer a few points: 

> 1. I always try to downclimb on boulder problems. At just over 16 stones, I don't like to think what repeatedly jumping from 3-4 metres, even on soft matting, would do to my knees. Plus, getting that antagonistic movement as well surely is good for your muscles.

> 2. Main goal would be to improve my technique and footwork. Second goal would be to improve my power (again, at 16+ stones, it takes a lot of power to do cruxy moves)

> 3. Harrowall has a decent, pretty long traverse wall - I intend to throw laps on that at the end of each session to work on my endurance. I know it's not the same as 'going upwards', but you do get a decent pump and it's better than nothing.


1. If you manage to not fall off a lot on boulder problems then you likely will not be getting the benefits of a bouldering diet. Like I say I really have stick at a level I can be reasonably confident I finish the problem AND have sufficent reserveves to rainbow back down. This has some training benefits but isn't really effecient use of a bouldering wall. I do it more to simply to enjoy the movement rather than for its training effect.

2. Yes, technique and footwork can be improved but to improve power you'll mostly need to be on stuff you fall off.

3. I find the problem with traverse walls / circuits is that in a busy wall it is impossible to "hog" the panel for the duration of your workout. Strangely, people (and their mate) that see an empty circuit (while you rest) don't understand that you "need" to do your next lap in exactly 1min and 20sec and a five minute break, while they have a go, really compromises what you are trying to achieve. I guess the coaches that give us these work-out apps can go along to the wall at 11:30am when it's quiet and not 7:30pm in the evening!

Post edited at 12:20
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Mike Stretford 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru: Yes, if the bouldering wall is big enough.

I've just been going to a bouldering wall for about 4 years and have improved overall. My local wall is big so I can do sessions where I do all the easier stuff, which is a pretty good stamina workout. Saying that most sessions I just boulder.

On trips to Spain I've been better on longer routes than I was before. I think this is partly due to getting through crux sequences quicker, due to the bouldering. You can waste a lot of energy faffing around at a crux section.

Post edited at 12:00
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Lord_ash2000 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

Bouldering only for a long while will make you significantly stronger than if you just stick to routes. However, your endurance will suffer unless you're quite strict with your training by doing circuits and longer problems as well as just your typical problems. 

Also, you have to watch your route climbing technique doesn't fall by the wayside either. As I have found, your heel hooks, toe clamps and other fancy stuff might improve but if you're mainly bouldering on steep ground all winter you can end up having difficulties on vertical, thin and balancly moves you'll more typically encounter when outdoors when you return in the summer months. 

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Dave Garnett 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

> 1. I always try to downclimb on boulder problems. At just over 16 stones, I don't like to think what repeatedly jumping from 3-4 metres, even on soft matting, would do to my knees. Plus, getting that antagonistic movement as well surely is good for your muscles.

I try to do circuits of particular colour, with as little time between routes as possible, downclimbing an easier neighbouring route.  As you say, the downclimbing adds an extra pliometric component as well as more endurance.  I also do it because a big part of leading confidence (for me anyway) is knowing you can reverse a section if you need to.

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Stegosaur 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

> 1. I always try to downclimb on boulder problems. At just over 16 stones, I don't like to think what repeatedly jumping from 3-4 metres, even on soft matting, would do to my knees. Plus, getting that antagonistic movement as well surely is good for your muscles.

Down-climbing isn't antagonistic; it doesn't train the antagonist muscles (climbing antagonists would usually be considered to include the "pushing" muscles e.g. triceps, while the agonists include the "pulling" muscles of the lats and biceps). Down-climbing trains the agonist climbing muscles, but eccentrically (lengthening under load) rather than concentrically (shortening under load).

/pedant

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JLS 03 Oct 2019
In reply to Stegosaur:

>"Down-climbing isn't antagonistic; it doesn't train the antagonist muscles"

You're assuming feet first down-climbing.

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asteclaru 03 Oct 2019
In reply to Dave Garnett:

I employ a similar approach to you. I try bouldering circuits of the same grade and downclimbing on an easier route (or rainbow it if that's not possible), but also try harder problems that look interesting but I might not be able to do 'first go'.

By the way, I'm not switching from only roped climbing to only bouldering: as I've said, I'll still go to the Castle once in a while, but it will probably be twice a month instead of twice a week. Also, I have done bouldering only sessions before, but it's never been my first choice.

Part of my decision to ditch the Castle as my main wall is also the fact that it takes me around 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there. Wasting 2 hours and 30 minutes on the Tube to queue up for routes is madness.

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baron 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

As others have said, there was a time when there were very few lead walls, if any,  and everything was bouldering, some of it highball, and lots and lots and lots of traversing.

It didn’t stop many from making good progress and it was better than standing around waiting - unless it was standing around and heckling your mates.

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JLS 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

>"Part of my decision to ditch the Castle as my main wall is also the fact that it takes me around 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there. Wasting 2 hours and 30 minutes on the Tube to queue up for routes is madness."

You poor sod. I suppose on plus side the streets are paved in gold and you are incredibly rich compared to us in the Northern colonies.

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Jon Greengrass 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

> 2. Main goal would be to improve my technique and footwork. Second goal would be to improve my power (again, at 16+ stones, it takes a lot of power to do cruxy moves)

What kind of techniques and footwork, what is the "real thing" what are you outdoor goals, rocky type, style and angle?

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Shani 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

The simple answer is yes. To train physically for routes then just choose a non-cruxy boulder problem of a sufficient level of difficulty and lap it. Reduce your rest times to zero.  Time under load is the key thing.

You can pause to clip an imaginary 'biner etc... to mimic a route.  As above, this will do nothing for your head game.

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asteclaru 03 Oct 2019
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

> What kind of techniques and footwork, what is the "real thing" what are you outdoor goals, rocky type, style and angle?

1. Here's the thing: I'm a big guy. I'm working on losing some of the extra weight I'm carrying around (lost around 3 stones so far, but I could benefit from losing at least another one). Even so, I'll never be some twig able to pull his way through anything, so I need my footwork to be impecable if I ever want to climb hard. Look at some videos of John Dunne climbing: maybe he's also really strong, but what stands out to me the most is his excellent footwork. That's what I'm striving to achieve: I don't have any very specific goal like 'be able to heel hook slopers or whatever', but rather try and have smooth, fluid, precise footwork.

2. The 'real thing' for me is trad climbing on real rock.

3. I don't really have 'outdoor goals' as such: I'm still a fairly new climber (only started leading this year) so I'm still trying to find my feet so to speak. I don't really have a 'favourite' rock type, style and angle. I'm happy to climb anything outdoors (ok, everything apart from grit or southern sandstone). I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I don't have a very specific goal, rather that I just enjoy climbing and I'm trying to have fun.

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Duncan Bourne 03 Oct 2019
In reply to JLS:

Good points and as an add to that. Roped climbing is good for developing head which bouldering alone won't give you.

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The Grist 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

I went through a similar change a few years ago. Had been going to the same lead wall for years and years. Then changed to a boulder only venue. It did adversely affect my climbing in certain ways......I definitely had less stamina. I also had more power though.

That year I did still manage to onsight a couple of e4s which I also did in the years before the change........but I also failed on a few pumpy stamina based e2s that I probably would have got up with more stamina. Having more power is useful on routes with good rests but hard sequences. You can usually work out what kind of routes they are with enough experience and careful reading of the guidebook. |I chose the e4s carefully and may not have been able to do them without the additional power.

Now I still train mostly at a boulder wall but I make sure I supplement it with endurance training......either sessions at a lead wall occasionally or specific '8 min on' rotation on the systems board. '2 min off then another 8 mins on'. This comes with it's own issues.......getting the wall to your self for 20 minutes can be hard. This 16 minutes of climbing has to be very easy but slightly overhanging to achieve the desired effect. It is harder than it sounds.

If it is too busy in the boulder wall (which is often is) I do 4 x 4 boulder problems.......or 1 min on then 1 min off on the systems board. This is mostly power endurance training rather than stamina training though. It is the stamina training that I do find hardest to replicate at a boulder wall. It definitely takes a lot of dedication and it is not very pleasant to train it properly. I am still working out strategies to do this.

I am lucky as the depot Manchester has 2 fantastic system boards to supplement the excellent bouldering.

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asteclaru 03 Oct 2019
In reply to JLS:

> You poor sod. I suppose on plus side the streets are paved in gold and you are incredibly rich compared to us in the Northern colonies.

Yeah, if only...

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asteclaru 03 Oct 2019
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

> Good points and as an add to that. Roped climbing is good for developing head which bouldering alone won't give you.

Several people have mentioned this already, but I don't think it will be much of an issue for me at the moment, quite the opposite in fact: I never used to do any bouldering, but I had noticed that I was really sketched out on routes where the crux is close to the ground. Having a rope on me did nothing, as I was perfectly aware that were I to fall, I would deck anyway. Started bouldering and it has helped a bit, but I've still got a way to go.

I'm quite happy with falling if I'm high off the ground. Besides, I don't think whipping indoors would do much to help with sketching out above a small nut or cam...

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Ed.James 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

This isn't an answer to your question so I'm sorry about that, but I wanted to say that the particular crowds you noticed experienced might have something to do with term time starting for London universities. I know Kings and Imperial are generally at the Westway on a Wednesday (or certainly used to be) and I think UCL used to climb at the Castle. 

So if you did still want your route climbing kick on a week night I would just try to avoid student nights. You mentioned Westway being as bad as the Castle, which may be true on a Wednesday, but there's always been plenty of empty routes to go at on a Thursday. 

And generally as freshers decide climbing isn't for them the crowds die down to some extent by November.

Again, sorry for not addressing the question but hopefully this'll give you some hope of getting routes done!

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Paul Sagar 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

Not sure it's quite that simple. Yeah, falling onto sketchy gear isn't good and thinking you're above sketchy gear is always going to be a bit scary - but if you can at least take out of that any sense that *falling in itself* is a problem, that can help. If you've been regularly climbing and falling off on a lead wall indoors, you may be surprised that if you don't rope climb for e.g. a month, when you come back to it the lizard part of your brain that evolved millions of years ago wants to scream 'get the f*ck down from there' a lot more than it did when you were leading regularly. I find this to be the case, at any rate.

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asteclaru 03 Oct 2019
In reply to Ed.James:

That's definitely a point to consider, however, last night was only the last in a long string of crowded climbing sessions.

I can't remember the last time I've went to the Castle and climbed what I actually wanted to climb and not whatever was available.

It used to be that Tuesdays and Thursdays were the busiest and on Mon/Wed/Fri the wall was fairly empty and you could take your pick at whatever you wanted to climb, but now it's always busy.

I blame Alex Honnold: ever since Free Solo came out everybody and their dog wants to be a climber

Post edited at 14:20
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Jon Greengrass 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

>  excellent footwork. That's what I'm striving to achieve:  but rather try and have smooth, fluid, precise footwork.

Indoors drop a couple of grades and slow down so you have time to look down at your feet and concentrate on placing your foot on the hold, don't scrape your toe down the wall until it stops on the hold. Aim for silent footwork if you hear your feet banging on the wall you're not placing them precisely.  Once you've learned to move silently and precisely at slow speed you can start to get faster and more fluid.

>  (ok, everything apart from grit or southern sandstone).

Go climb grit and sandstone slabs, learn to really trust your feet. Climb easy routes on top-rope or second with only 1 or no hands.

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asteclaru 03 Oct 2019
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

> >  excellent footwork. That's what I'm striving to achieve:  but rather try and have smooth, fluid, precise footwork.

> Indoors drop a couple of grades and slow down so you have time to look down at your feet and concentrate on placing your foot on the hold, don't scrape your toe down the wall until it stops on the hold. Aim for silent footwork if you hear your feet banging on the wall you're not placing them precisely.  Once you've learned to move silently and precisely at slow speed you can start to get faster and more fluid.

That's precisely how I go about it. Still work in progress though.

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Blanche DuBois 03 Oct 2019
In reply to Max factor:

> And to answer your question, yes, trying hard at bouldering is better for progressing your climbing than doing roped climbing alone. 

I'd say it's better than roped climbing full-stop.  Especially if the wall has a few circuits set.

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Iamgregp 03 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

Agreed, I was there last night too and the place was busier than I've ever seen it, absolutely shitloads of people, and this is before the "try something new" brigade arrive in January.

You didn't mention The Reach when talking about other roped climbing venues.  It's never busy there and their routes are quality. It's not that hard to get to if you can drive...

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I like climbing 04 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

It was very busy last night but we had a reasonable session. I climb there all the time. You need to keep doing routes if that is your intention outside. Bouldering is not a substitute although there are elements that help.

Best to do routes there when it’s quieter if you have that flexibility time wise.

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MeMeMe 04 Oct 2019
In reply to The Jazz Butcher:

> That sounds reasonable. The only aspect I don't quite agree with is doing laps at the end of a bouldering session. Information I have read from a number of coaches is that it is not good to combine strength /  power sessions with endurance.

> A low level stamina routine is OK, where the goal is 20 minutes of very, very easy climbing, but not to get pumped. However, from a route climbers mentality, that is not an easy thing to achieve. We want to get fu***ng pumped out of our minds! How can that not be a good thing?

Do you know why?

I ask because I often end my session by getting pumped silly on the circuit wall. I generally only get a session in once a week so want to make the most out of it!

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HeMa 04 Oct 2019
In reply to I like climbing:

> You need to keep doing routes if that is your intention outside. Bouldering is not a substitute although there are elements that help.

I disagree with you in that.

Can't remember the last time I tied a rope and climbed indoors (2 or 4 years ago), but that hasn't much changed my route climbing level outside.

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In reply to Jon Greengrass:

> >  excellent footwork. That's what I'm striving to achieve:  but rather try and have smooth, fluid, precise footwork.

> Indoors drop a couple of grades and slow down so you have time to look down at your feet and concentrate on placing your foot on the hold, don't scrape your toe down the wall until it stops on the hold. Aim for silent footwork if you hear your feet banging on the wall you're not placing them precisely.  Once you've learned to move silently and precisely at slow speed you can start to get faster and more fluid.

YMMV but to me, "footwork" is usually used as a loose synonyn for "technique" - encompassing body position and core engagement, as well as foot placement.  Personally, I made the greatest technique gains by experimenting on moves hard enough to demand that I got those issues right - but not so hard that there was no time to think about position. 

I've found "silent feet" and similar drills an occassionally fun way to get flowing at the start of a session but I'm not convinced they are an efficient means of improving.   Climbing a jug ladder like I'm on ether just seems too passive and undemanding to train the full-body engagement that hard moves require (with my feeble physique anyway) - properly pushing and clawing with the toes, consciously engaging the core, and thrusting and twisting with the hips and legs.

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Al Randall 04 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

There is little doubt that bouldering will improve your strength, balance and technique and help you to achieve higher grades but you need to climb trad to improve gear placement skills, increase confidence in exposed positions and most importantly feed your soul

Al

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The Jazz Butcher 04 Oct 2019
In reply to MeMeMe:

I don't know the technical physiological reason(s) why. It was explained to me that working 2 very different energy systems; strength / power and also endurance, close together confuses the body and can negate / reduce the gains made compared to working different energy systems in isolation.

In the last couple of years I have begun to do a lot more specific training to offset age, putting into practice training ideas I have read and been told. I train less over winter, doing shorter strength and power training sessions; fingerboard, campus, max bouldering and core and it does seem to have helped.

Hopefully, someone with a lot more knowledge than myself will come along and give some more details.

TJB.

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HeMa 04 Oct 2019
In reply to Al Randall:

> There is little doubt that bouldering will improve your strength, balance and technique and help you to achieve higher grades

Yup...

> but you need to climb trad to improve gear placement skills, increase confidence in exposed positions and most importantly feed your soul

Yup, but you don't practice that on indoor walls... which is what the OP was all about.

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Al Randall 04 Oct 2019
In reply to HeMa:

You seem determined to be contrary and argumentative today, what with this and the ice climbing thread. I call troll or is it click bait.  I can't keep up with these things

Post edited at 14:34
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Al Randall 04 Oct 2019
In reply to HeMa:

I've just read the OP again.  Unlike you I see nothing in there that is at odds with my original advice.

Al

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HeMa 04 Oct 2019
In reply to Al Randall:

The OP is b!tching that the wall he visits is too darn busy, and asks if bouldering walls are enough for training...


And your advice/comment is about going trad climbing prolly is not all that helpful (nor answers the question he asked).

BTW. the smileys are darn hard to read/see if one is using the darkmode (which I do). So I actually did miss the winky in the ice gear thread.

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Al Randall 04 Oct 2019
In reply to HeMa:

It just goes to show how a paragraph can be interpreted so drastically differently.

"Which, I guess, brings me to my question: is bouldering on its own enough to both improve your overall climbing and 'satisfy the desire to climb'? To give some context, I don't particularly like indoor climbing, and bouldering even less, but I do it to train for the 'real thing'"

I interpreted that as meaning he did not like indoor climbing and bouldering but longed for the real thing.  I thought my answer was pertinent to that with respect to training specific elements of real climbing and the short comings of those elements. It would be interesting to get a view on how others interpreted this text.

I've read it and re read it and still consider my response is appropriate, by addressing those training elements both positive and negative within the context of "real climbing" so we may have to just agree to disagree.

Post edited at 17:21
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asteclaru 04 Oct 2019
In reply to Al Randall:

> I interpreted that as meaning he did not like indoor climbing and bouldering but longed for the real thing.  I thought my answer was pertinent to that with respect to training specific elements of real climbing and the short comings of those elements. It would be interesting to get a view on how others interpreted this text.

This is correct: that is exactly what I meant by that paragraph.

I understand that indoor climbing (of any kind) doesn't prepare you for placing gear and climbing above gear.

However, I do also believe that if you're a strong/good/however you want to put it, climber (which indoor climbing can help you become) then trad climbing will be easier than being both scared and weak.

To stop everyone saying that there's no substitute to climbing trad, yes, ideally I'd live somewhere with trad climbing in my backyard, but I don't, so I have to settle for what I have.

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Mark Stevenson 04 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

For the last decade most of my indoor climbing has been bouldering rather than routes. I've not made any spectacular improvements but I'm climbing outdoors at least as well as I've ever done.

Unfortunately , just because it works for some of us on here, doesn't necessarily mean it will work for you or anyone else.

A couple of specific questions:

First, when you're going well, what grade(s) can you currently onsight when climbing outside?

Second, how many grades difference is there between the grade you can second (or top-rope) and the grade you can lead on average routes?

If the answers are respectively >>f7a/E3 and zero/one, then just going indoor bouldering can almost certainly be more than sufficient. (Several of the previous replies on this thread are from individuals whom I've climbed with and we all fall into this category.)

However, if you can't already lead proficiently at a pretty good standard, just going bouldering may not be much help when you get back on routes and need to deal with the subtleties of clipping and/or placing gear. 

Equally, if there is any substantial gap between what you can climb with a rope above you versus what you can climb above gear, just going bouldering definitely won't help you address any mental weaknesses.

Personally, I can boulder exclusively indoors over the Winter and then sport climb outdoors in the Spring very successfully. However, I've got 17 years of experience of leading sports 7s to fall back onto. What works for me (and other previous posters with even more experience than me!) won't necessarily translate, but it's probably worth a go. 

Good luck with whatever you do. 

HTH

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Fishmate 04 Oct 2019
In reply to Al Randall:

> you need to climb trad to increase confidence in exposed positions and most importantly feed your soul

An alternative experience says otherwise. In the last year, I've introduced 3 experienced trad climbers to Font. After discussing head game and getting laughed at for being a boulderer, I further introduced them to a f5+ 7/8m highball. They all backed off, saying it was too much.

Maybe a spot of trusting your falling abilities to a pad outdoors might help, bearing in mind, most trad climbers do routes that are tested and proven so the gear must be ok...

Do it within your grade, I.e. if you can climb english 5a or whatever grade you can onsight, well go ahead and do it.

It will definitely feed your soul, ..

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Fishmate 04 Oct 2019
In reply to Mark Stevenson:

> For the last decade most of my indoor climbing has been bouldering rather than routes.

I hear this often, but saying you do indoor bouldering, doesn't mean anything. For some it means deploying an onsight mentality, if it doesn't go in a couple of attempts then move on, therefore never overcoming failure and learning. For others it means being highly specific and trying to progress. There is a world of difference between the two.

As for head game, see my post above on highball bouldering. Most trad climbers don't get injured badly or often, otherwise we would hear about it on UKC! Most trad climbers climb routes they are unlikely to fall on and if they do, the gear is good and they fall on a nice bouncey rope into a pocket of harm free air. Unless you're the small percentage doing hard risky routes.

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Jon Stewart 04 Oct 2019
In reply to I like climbing:

> You need to keep doing routes if that is your intention outside.

This is way too vague.

Doing routes indoors in an unstructured, "go to the wall and do a few routes" way does not translate well to trad climbing. In fact it doesn't translate well to much at all.

If you're thinking about pumpy routes, then trad climbing in general is just so much slower and less sustained than indoors, so it's a completely different form of endurance to indoors. On a short cruxy trad route, trad is far more like like bouldering than indoor routes.

Even with sport, onsighting routes, the skills are quite different: outdoors you have to find the holds and decide where to put your feet, so it's still much slower than climbing indoors and requires a different type of endurance.

The only place where indoor climbing really converges with outdoors is redpointing short sustained routes.

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Misha 05 Oct 2019
In reply to Fishmate:

I can see that highballing is good for developing a ‘don’t fall now’ attitude and getting comfortable with doing moves below your limit in a position where falling off is a bad idea. But is it good for developing the ‘trad head’? If you want to push it on trad, you’ve got to be happy to fall off, provided it’s safe to do so (gear high enough / good enough). I’m not sure that highballing gets you comfortable with falling off - I’d have thought the opposite as falling off from a few metres up is a bad idea, even with a few mats.

To the OP - if the lead walls you can get to are way too busy whilst the bouldering walls are reasonable, it’s a no brainer: go where you can actually get some quality climbing time. I mostly boulder these days, simply because I can get a decent session in an hour and a half after work, whereas I’d need twice as long for a decent routes session and that’s time I don’t usually have.

As others have said, don’t neglect the leading, especially if you’re relatively new to climbing. Good for stamina (although you can train that at the bouldering wall as well) and invaluable for leading and falling practice. If you can still go a couple of times a month, that’s great.

I wouldn’t worry too much about it all at this stage of your climbing career. Any climbing you can do, particularly outdoors, will be beneficial. 

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In reply to Jon Stewart:

> The only place where indoor climbing really converges with outdoors is redpointing short sustained routes.

Aye, my dislike of indoor route climbing corresponds to my pitifulness at power-endurance sport routes.  I find that most indoors routes are cruxless, sustained plugging away - 50% capacity for metres on end.  Thankfully, most of the outdoor sport routes in the UK are more intermittant - 80% max power crux(es) separated from easier climbing with a rest on a jug.  Indoor routes are perhaps good preperation for Spanish enduro / "resistance" testpieces but not particularly applicable to UK limestone (I reckon I've done only two proper power-endurance routes in the UK).

Post edited at 07:48
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Fishmate 05 Oct 2019
In reply to Misha:

I'm happy to accept that is the case for many. I mentioned it because the guys in question all found it beneficial from the climbing perspective in so much as it taught them to let go of the fear and focus on what they knew they could do.

In my experience, mats today really are good enough, even from 6+ metres. However I suggested to the OP to do so within his limit given his dislike of falling at the wall. If your pure climbing focus is on point, you are in better shape mentally and physically to deal with the non climbing aspects of trad. Dave Mc touched on this in one of his recent YT videos.

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wbo2 05 Oct 2019
In reply to Mark Stevenson:

> For the last decade most of my indoor climbing has been bouldering rather than routes. I've not made any spectacular improvements but I'm climbing outdoors at least as well as I've ever done.

You know the other way of looking at this is that you've trained a lot the last years and haven't improved at all!   

If you're relatively inexperienced you have to do some routes , or simulate it somehow unless you can get on outdoors routes every week 

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Mick Ward 05 Oct 2019
In reply to wbo2:

> If you're relatively inexperienced you have to do some routes , or simulate it somehow unless you can get on outdoors routes every week...

Perhaps when Mark did every route in Hard Rock, with Rich Mayfield, one after the other, in the pissing rain... he was secretly training for indoors.

Mick

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Misha 05 Oct 2019
In reply to Fishmate:

You’re right that fear and particularly fear of falling holds a lot of people back. The way to address it is through falling practice indoors and on sport routes. Dave Mc writes about this in his book. I get what you’re saying about high balling being beneficial for some people from a psychological perspective but I wouldn’t recommend it to a relatively new climber. Too much potential for things to go wrong. I’ve seen people get injured from small bouldering falls, indoors and out. The potential for properly clattering yourself when highballing is significant. May be less so with lots of good pads and spotters but not everyone will have those resources. And even then it could go pretty wrong.

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Misha 05 Oct 2019
In reply to wbo2:

Good point but I can tell you that he managed a personal best sport route last year so he’s just being modest.

Agree that the less experienced should do some indoor routes. It’s good for the more experienced as well but less important.

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Jon Stewart 05 Oct 2019
In reply to Misha:

> You’re right that fear and particularly fear of falling holds a lot of people back. The way to address it is through falling practice indoors and on sport routes...The potential for properly clattering yourself when highballing is significant. 

You're absolutely right of course, but you shouldn't ignore the point that falling practice and sport climbing are really boring, whereas highballing where you might get hurt is really really fun (tongue in cheek, I know many people think that sport climbing isn't really boring). I'd say, go out on grit in good conditions with a few mates and a pad or 2 each, and enjoy some climbing that actually is real climbing - routes that you'll remember forever as some of the best things you've ever done.

I advocate highballing, and for its own sake. Risk-wise, it feels quite similar to trad: you've got gear (pads) but the falls can be potentially prangy so you gotta take care, or for some moves, they could be unjustifable, so you bottle it and scuttle back down, tail between legs. Which is the essence of trad climbing, surely?

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I like climbing 06 Oct 2019
In reply to Jon Stewart:

You know I always enjoy reading your well reasoned posts but I’m going to stick with my opinion here but appreciate yours and HeMa’s comments. Sure my comments are vague but it’s not as if I’m planning on putting a training plan together for the op - I don’t have enough info to do so. 

I’m sure we’ve all had times where we’ve got no gear and are wondering how long it’s going to be before we either find something or take a really unpleasant fall with uncertain consequences. Building up enough endurance especially on indoor routes especially set like the outside are helpful. Sure climbing outside all the time is great but if you are based in London you train indoors. Also, just bouldering is probably not going to satisfy his ‘desire to climb’.

Post edited at 14:23
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Robert Durran 06 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

Your question basically asks whether you can replicate the training benefits of a lead wall on a bouldering wall. The answer is probably yes if you can put up with the boredom of going round in circles or just meandering around without the motivation of climbing a well set route. The only thing missing is the head training of trying your hardest above the last clip, which might be relevant if this is one of your weaknesses.

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Fishmate 06 Oct 2019
In reply to I like climbing:

Only anecdotal, however all the guys n girls I know doing hard sport or trad claim that working a pump board at low levels, circuits and limit Bouldering are essential tools for developing endurance. Unfortunately real training involves doing things you don't necessarily like but need to learn to embrace if you want your perceived rewards.

Of course, continuing to lead indoors is important but unless you can hog a line to do laps the process is too slow to reap those desired benefits. This is relative to the individual, not the grade you climb.

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Fishmate 06 Oct 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> The answer is probably yes if you can put up with the boredom of going round in circles...

Unfortunately, as I suspect you know, many people say they want to train but stop short at the things they don't like. You either want to or you don't. Don't equals not training. It's very important to be honest with yourself in any walk of life in terms of how far you are willing to go and how much you really want it. It makes defining your choices much easier and also avoidance of disappointment. I think it's ok to not want to but pretending just doing lead routes indoors is training (as mentioned above) is kidding yourself. It's proven not to for the majority...

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I like climbing 06 Oct 2019
In reply to Fishmate:

I agree. Sets are important and the unpleasant parts of training matter too. I try and do the things I hate but I can always think of an excuse to avoid them..... 

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Robert Durran 06 Oct 2019
In reply to Fishmate:

>  I think it's ok to not want to but pretending just doing lead routes indoors is training (as mentioned above) is kidding yourself. It's proven not to for the majority...

I'm not suggesting that just "doing routes" is effective training, but that training on well set routes (laps etc) is going to be much less boring and therefore more motivating than simulation on a bouldering wall.

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Misha 06 Oct 2019
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I see where you’re coming from and I’m sure it’s good fun but there are a couple of points to consider. Firstly, highballing is not for the inexperienced, so I wouldn’t advocate it to people I don’t know. Secondly, there are plenty of fairly safe trad routes where falling off is going to be less risky than falling off a highball. Of course that requires suitable trad experience - gear placement, route choice and judging what a potential fall would be like. I’m not advocating falling on trad for the inexperienced. Rather, my point is that trad doesn’t have to be scary or dangerous - it is what you want it to be, as long as you choose the right routes/crags! So I don’t really agree that the danger aspect of highballing represents the essence of trad. It represents only one aspect of certain trad routes.

I don’t think falling practice is boring. It’s something which is easy to build into an indoor or outdoor sport session. I should probably do it more often myself - the reason I don’t is I never seem to think of doing it at the time.

Have to say I’m not a boulderer when it comes to the outdoors. Indoors it’s time efficient training. Outdoors it’s nice enough but there are plenty of things which personally I find more interesting like trad, sport and eating cake in a cafe ;-)

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HeMa 06 Oct 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I'm not suggesting that just "doing routes" is effective training, but that training on well set routes (laps etc) is going to be much less boring and therefore more motivating than simulation on a bouldering wall.

Only if you can actually climb... the OP did mention that it's so crowded that you need to que a lot even to get on one route... I do find standing in line and waiting really boring, when I could just be climbing (even a boulder).

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Robert Durran 06 Oct 2019
In reply to HeMa:

> Only if you can actually climb... the OP did mention that it's so crowded that you need to que a lot even to get on one route... I do find standing in line and waiting really boring, when I could just be climbing (even a boulder).

But isn't the same true of bouldering walls if you want to do circuits or 4x4's? Anyway, I'm lucky enough to have Ratho as my local wall where you can often have the comp wall on which Ondra won the European championship today more or less to yourself all evening😁

Edit: But I was a bit annoyed that it was raining today and I had my training schedule messed up🙁

Post edited at 21:59
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Fishmate 06 Oct 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I'm not suggesting that just "doing routes" is effective training.

Hence my comment, "as I suspect you know". I was referring to comments from others above, not anything you said. Sorry that wasn't clear.

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HeMa 07 Oct 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> But isn't the same true of bouldering walls if you want to do circuits or 4x4's?

Depends, but Yes Most likely a bouldering gym would be also busy. But the good thing with boulders is that people don’t hog the line for eons. So a 4x4 can be achieved even at reasonably busy gyms. You’ll prolly have to flex a bit on the rest/switch times but still. 
 

The other thing (boulder vs rope) is the need for a belayer. So you have two schedules to worry about. If you’re just bouldering, then perhaps you can pick a different time and thus go in when less busy. 
 

that said, perhaps I’m also spoiled as there are now 6 bouldering gyms plus 2 proper climbing centers (rope+boulder) and a few non public bouldering walls. And of the 6 bouldering walls, at least 4 are open 24/7 for members (and even non members can stay later than closing time). So for me, going at a less busy time is easily achieved (even If I’n not a member anymore), go in a few minutes before closing and once your warmed up, there’s not too many people present anymore. 
 

that being said, I just go climbing indoors when it’s not possible to go outdoors. So I don’t really train per se. 

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gobbledigook 08 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

In answer to your question, no.

In answer to your conundrum about climbing in London, mile end wall has a very small roped section, but it always seems to be acceptably busy rather than rammed like the bouldering next door.

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RockSteady 09 Oct 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

I think you can train 80% of what you need for routes on a bouldering wall.

I think it's hard to train low level aerobic endurance/aerocap except on an autobelay or with a very willing lead partner. 

If like me you suffer from a bad lead 'head', you have to train routes fairly regularly to be able to commit to trying hard above a fall. 

If I was you I wouldn't write off Westway as just as bad as the Castle in terms of crowds. There are many more lead routes at the Westway and many more steep lines. I moved from regular attendance at the Castle to Westway 10 years ago for that reason - it was already too busy then! The Castle is a fantastic 'jack of all trades' wall and the building is cool. But Westway is hands down the best wall for route climbing in London. 

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