Gym to Crag Suggestions

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Jeffrey Brown
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Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by Jeffrey Brown » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:40 pm

Hey all. Just wanted to ask about good resource material for reading on making the transition from gym climbing to crag climbing. I have seen a book Climbing: From Gym to Crag (published in 2000) on the subject and wondered if it was a good place to start.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks
Jeff

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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by DrRockso » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:47 am

A great deal of information is out there relating to this subject, a very broad and respected source would be Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, certainly a good read although it's scope is much wider than just "gym to crag" it is a great base of knowledge for climbing and the outdoors. My next suggestion, which is a bit more specific would be John Long's: "Climbing Anchors."

A common choice for many climbers wishing to make the transition from gym to crag would be to hire one of the well respected guiding companies in the Red. I can make a biased suggestion for Kentucky Rock and Adventure Guides and Red River Outdoors. Nothing will expedite your transition faster than going out with an experienced guide, that you can ask questions and have troubleshoot your weaknesses. It can be quite affordable if you can convince a friend or two to split the costs of the guide with you, be sure to specifically tell the company that you want to do gym to crag so they don't assume you just want to go out on a trip.

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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by milspecmark » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:36 am

So smaller groups, no music, quick draws and or gear if you are trad climbing, cleaning anchors, longer distance between bolts, weather, bugs, reptiles, approaches, route finding, are just a few of the things you should be ready to encounter.

Jeffrey Brown
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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by Jeffrey Brown » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:50 am

Thanks for the feedback. I have climbed outdoors three times all of which was bouldering (Muscatauck and RRG). I took my first intro to lead climbing class last night. I really plan on starting out on the shorter intro routs this year and working on develping good technique before I move to anything out of the 5.7 range.

Jeff

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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by milspecmark » Tue Feb 02, 2016 10:26 am

Did you learn how to clean anchors?

Jeffrey Brown
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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by Jeffrey Brown » Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:26 pm

Not yet. It was the first class of three. Spent most the time clippping and unclipping. Mock lead one route and cleaned gear from the route. Have not worked on setting or cleaning anchors yet.

Jeff

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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by milspecmark » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:53 pm

I would recommend you going outside with an experienced leader and top roping his routes first. Most accidents occur on cleaning anchors and you want to make sure you have a very clear understanding of how it works before you go test it out.

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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by AndyB » Tue Feb 02, 2016 5:57 pm

The Access Fund is another source of information for climbers transitioning from the gym to outside.
https://www.accessfund.org/educate-your ... ers/forest

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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by whatahutch » Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:52 pm

Like milspecmark suggested, make friends with an experienced outdoor climber (which is not the same as a strong climber) and go with them a bunch before you ever go out leading on your own. Before the days of gyms, most new climbers got into the sport by "apprenticing" with other experienced climbers. Most people didn't just go buy gear and start plugging pieces and clipping bolts. (My college roommate is an arson investigator, and he once asked me, "How do you know when a person failed bomb making 101?" The answer is when they blew themselves up. I know, left field, but the analogy applies to climbing. Don't fail climbing 101. You may die if you do).

As far as books go, the information will be valuable, but it is only valuable as information. It is not experience. A person that works out on a punching bag is not a boxer. Karate practitioners can't call themselves a fighter unless they have actually been in a fight or two. (There’s nothing worse than the fat karate instructor who tells you theoretically what to do but has never done it. - Mark DellaGrotte).

The same goes for climbing. An ability to work and send hard problems or routes in a gym is not the same as safely leading and cleaning a route outside. Do not mistake ability or theoretical knowledge you gather from books as actual climbing know-how. Experience gained through the act of climbing is your best option. Go with safe, experienced climbers for a long time (maybe a year or two even) before you start going out on your own.

For the sake of full-disclosure, I didn't do this. The first time I led outdoors, I went with two other newbie leaders. I look back on it, and I am thankful we all lived. We played it all super safe, and we had a lot of prior practice in a gym, but It was not wise to do. Today, I do not lead hard trad, meaning anything 5.6 or above for me, because I do not feel like I have the experience to go above that grade. I do feel my ability is above that, but not my experience. I have a wife and kids I wish to make it back home to see, so I don't push it.

Guides are awesome. Pay for their experience to learn and feel safe while outside. Friends are fun to climb with, though. Make a friend or two who are experienced, safe climbers and start having fun climbing outside.
"Come to send, not condescend" - Eddie Vedder

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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by Jeffrey Brown » Wed Feb 03, 2016 3:27 pm

Thanks for all of the feedback. Rest assured I will not be going out alone. When I took up snowboarding I took lessons and spent the first full season on the bunny slope. I did not even venture out on green run until my second year. With that said I love reading and researching the things that I do and that interests me.

I have a climbing partner (also a newie) who is also taking the lead climbing class. I anticipate we will get a guide the first time we go and then hopefully rely on the kindness of some friends. I have a small handful of people who have offered to take me out and help me to learn. I just don't want to walk out blind. I have only been climbing indoor for about 14 months or so.

I really want to start on smaller,shorter sport routes with a higher liklihood for success. Creating good opportunities to learn, acquire skills and reinforce my desire to continue down this path. I don't want to get on a route beyond my skill set and be miserable.

Jeff

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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by nik » Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:13 pm

i mostly agree with the advice whatahutch has given, except where he (? - assuming) says to go with experienced climbers for a year or two -- jesus christ. i think you'd be fine sport climbing on your own after a handful of times with more experienced people. just be sure you can clean routes. like, 100% sure. maybe you won't be climbing overhung routes yet, but i'd learn how to clean those as well. also, don't get your leg behind the rope while leading and don't pull out slack unless you're sure you can clip.

we shouldn't take away all of the potential for adventure for our gumby friends!

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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by Josephine » Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:01 pm

A couple suggestions:

- cleaning anchors is VERY important. have an experience climber teach you how. most gyms have places to practice on the ground. every time you go to the gym, practice cleaning anchors a few times. Then get experienced climbers to watch you do it to make sure you've really got it.

- a great way to meet experienced climbers is through climbing events. the RRGCC has trail days regularly as does Muir Valley. In addition to helping improve the land you climb on, you'll get a chance to network with people that climb outside.

Josephine
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Re: Gym to Crag Suggestions

Post by whatahutch » Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:51 pm

Yeah, maybe two years is too long. A season or two is probably more reasonable for sport climbing.
"Come to send, not condescend" - Eddie Vedder

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