Tip1: Climbing with Endurance

By Calvin Landrus

  ec15.JPGCalvin on typical steep terrain at The Red
“Ah-Hah” moments often happen when you least expect it. This one happened in September when I was back in my climbing gym after taking more than two months off due to a tendon/ligament injury in my left ring finger. Due to its severity, I had done no training specifically for climbing.

Not wanting to be re-injured on plastic, I choose to begin on a 90 move, large-hold traverse. I wasn’t expecting much for two reasons. Surely, the layoff will have caused a loss in strength, and even when I was in good shape last spring, this route was only an occasional send for me. I start moving and find myself effortlessly gliding along. When I get to the endurance crux, I cruise right through it and easily made my way to the finish. Being surprised and still not pumped, I lapped the traverse again for 180 move mega-burn. “Wow! Where did that come from?”

Suddenly, I realized that I had traded my climbing training time for general endurance training. I had increased my aerobic training dramatically…biking, running and hiking up some Oregon volcanoes. The connection between great cardiovascular fitness and endurance climbing was never more evident.

I continued towards a fully recovered finger by doing more long, big-hold workouts on steep terrain. This approach was also congruent with my plans to visit the Red River Gorge in October. I did many laps on the “Rock and Roller” and continued my aerobic training. The endurance training really paid dividends at the Red.

This was my first visit and the steep terrain was completely overwhelming. The statement everyone makes, “Its all about hanging-on,” I found to be true. After acclimatizing for a couple of days, I found I had great endurance. So I began to move up the grades and was able to hang onto a climb that matched my hardest redpoint ever, and I did it as a flash ascent. I credit the success of that flash to the aerobic base I had built.

C L I M B I N G - T I P
No matter how strong your grip strength is you will loose it on a climb if your cardiovascular system is overtaxed. Including general endurance training in your work out program will delay the point at which grip-strength failure will occur.

Endurance is needed in living as well. Calvin Coolidge once said, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; un-rewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

Great people are just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of endurance. They simply don't know how to quit. They just keep on "keeping on." A person's greatness is not determined by his or her fame, position, wealth or climbing ability. It’s determined by what it takes to discourage that person. You can tell a lot about someone by watching how he or she responds to criticism or failure. It reveals character.


  • Things don't go your way?
  • Expectations are not met?
  • Someone disapproves of how you did it?

    The Bible says this: "Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing, if we don't get discouraged and give up." (Galatians 6:9)

    L I V I N G - T I P
    When you are tempted to give up on doing the right thing, consider what blessing you will be missing out on. Hang-on with an attitude of endurance!

  • Continue the discussion at the Where Climbers Gather Forums. Date Posted - 12.17.13

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