There is one photo from Kentucky which perfectly illustrates my two biggest outdoor climbing weaknesses at the moment–footwork and clipping stances.
Check out my feet. I look like I’m posing for a photo in a minidress, not making a clip. My feet are awkwardly placed, and my left arm is supporting most of my weight in a locked-off position.
I’ve been working on improving my footwork recently, but all of my training has been indoors. I was surprised by how little that indoor awareness transferred to outdoor climbing. Feet are harder to see outdoors, and there are more options than indoors. To correct this weakness, I can bring the same training tactics I used indoors to the outdoors. Downclimbing, drills, and focusing on including feet in visualizing the route ahead of time should all help some.
A second major weakness is clipping. My biggest climbing fear is falling in the process of attempting to make a clip, with a ton of slack in the system. I saw another climber deck trying to make the 3rd clip on a route in California this March. He was okay, but it was really scary for his belayer and everyone who witnessed the fall. Higher up on a route, a hard catch on a long fall could re-injure a previously sprained ankle if I were unlucky.
I think the most important ‘fix’ for these weaknesses is going to be getting more outdoor practice. I don’t get to climb outside very often, but my trip to Kentucky did allow me to get a lot more time on the rock. I led 17 routes in 4 full days of climbing, with 11 of those routes being redpoints or onsights. I also top-roped an 11a, which is the hardest route I’ve ever gotten on outdoors. It wasn’t quite the volume I was hoping for–but there will be another trip!
Now that I’ve spent an entire post complaining about the things I suck at, the good news is that I did manage a flash of To Defy the Laws of Tradition, 5.10a! One of my goals for the trip was to redpoint 5.10a, so I was super psyched by the send. The route is an uber-classic for good reason–perfect rock, aesthetic climb, and fun moves.