Actually Following a Training Plan: Review of The Rock Climber’s Training Manual

Putting my training to the test on Ginseng (5.12c) at Shagg crag, Maine.

Putting my training to the test on Ginseng Route (5.12c) at Shagg crag, Maine.

In the 7 years that I’ve been climbing, I’ve followed exactly zero training plans. It’s not that I didn’t want to get better at climbing, or that I doubted the training plan would work. The factors preventing me from training, any longer than a day, stemmed from a combination of motivation, commitment, and time management…that is, until reading the Anderson brothers’ Rock Climber’s Training Manual: A Guide to Continuous Improvement. Their approach to climbing and training worked for me for numerous reasons. I went from being unable to realistically attempt the crux moves on 5.12s, unable to even make a single move between the rungs on the campus board, and being able to do a max of three 10 lb bicep curls to sending or close to sending my three 5.12b/c projects, loving the campus board, pumping 25 lb bicep curls – all within 4 months. Here’s why the Andersons’ approach worked for me:

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One Step at a Time: Climbing and Addiction

system wall

Starting out climbing can be daunting, but it can also be healing.

People often say things like “I’m addicted to climbing” and sure we get that they mean they really really like climbing, like, a lotBut the truth is addiction is a serious issue in our country. In 2013, according to a study by the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated 21.6 million people aged 12 or older (8.2 percent of the population) had a problem with substance dependence or abuse. This is an issue that affects millions of families, and doesn’t discriminate based on gender, race, or socioeconomic status. It is such a widespread issue, that I would go so far as to say that at some point in nearly everyone’s lives they will be affected by it – whether with their own struggles with substances, or that of a loved one. Today we will share with you one person’s story of recovery through climbing. We hope that her story will inspire others who are facing similar struggles.

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Puccio Reinvents the Wheel (of Chaos, V14/8B+)

Puccio on Jade (V14). Photo credit: Joel Zerr.

Puccio on Jade (V14). Photo credit: Joel Zerr.

“Epic.” That’s how Alex Puccio described her recent ascent of Wheel of Chaos (V14/8B+) in Upper Chaos Canyon in RMNP. We agree and continue to be in awe as we realize the significance of this ascent. For starters, this makes Puccio the only woman to have climbed two V14s. Secondly, she sent this problem, originally put up by Woods and Webb, after putting in just two days of work. But the implications of this send go further. The boulder problem consists of 25 moves – implying that Puccio just might be ready to quickly take down a short, powerful 5.15a. And as it turns out, Wheel of Chaos just so happens to have a 8C/V15 variation…very, very interesting indeed. Keep climbing on Puccio – we’ll keep waiting for the next send, on the edge of our seats.

Information thanks to Alex Puccio’s facebook,, and

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Gear Review: Petzl Arial 9.5mm Rope

arial rope

Before the invention of the Gri-Gri or light-weight harnesses, the climbing rope reigned supreme. This multipurpose tool was your harness, your belay device, and of course your rope, keeping you safe and off the ground. Thankfully, these days we can hang in our comfy harnesses and let our ropes just be ropes in their auto-locking belay devices. Over the past few decades the outdoor industry has grown a ton, resulting in better and better ropes and more and more to choose from. In today’s review, we’re featuring the Petzl Arial 9.5mm rope, which we’re totally digging, especially for sport climbing. I’m going to apply our usual review categories (Fit, Form, Function, Finances), which is a little funny for a rope review, but let’s give it a shot…

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How To Train On The Campus Board


When it comes to training one of the most intimidating tools we can think of is the campus board. We know that this big, imposing board covered in vexing little rungs is an effective training tool, but it can be hard to even know how to begin to use it. So to help us get past our fears, we turn to none other than the fiercely dedicated training machine, Galina Parfenov (and if you haven’t seen this lady in action, check out her training videos to see what we mean). In today’s article, she breaks down the different types of campus board exercises and shows you how to do each one, whether you are just starting out, or already have a campus-board routine and want to freshen it up! Here’s Galina:

Over the years I have gone back and forth between various training techniques and devices—everything from fingerboards, rock rings, systems boards, and even plain old pull-up bars—until finally settling on just one: the campus board. Which, like the lever, screw, pulley, and wedge, is a simple machine, at least where climbing is concerned. Ten rungs. That’s all it takes (just ask their inventor, Wolfgang Güllich, who used the campus board to train for the first ascent of Action Directe, the world’s first 9a!)

That being said, a person who has been climbing for less than two years should not be using a campus board. They shouldn’t really be training, other than maybe a few pull-ups here and there. The first 18-24 months or so should be dedicated solely to climbing and training by climbing, until your tendons can handle the additional pressure of campusing. This also applies to youth.

Here’s a checklist to help you decide if campus rungs are right for you:

  • I have been climbing for at least 18 months.
  • I am at least 16 years old.
  • I have not recently had reoccurring pain in my fingers, elbows, or shoulders.
  • I have plateaued.
  • I want to get STRONG!

Check them all? Then refer to the list of campus board exercises below! I’ve provided modifications for beginner and advanced. If you aren’t sure which you are, start with the beginner exercises and move to advanced if you need more of a challenge.

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Rock Roots: Alice Chiang

Lately, climbing has scared the crap out of me. Within my circle of climbing friends I definitely complain the most about being scared and feel helplessly restrained by my second-guessing and over-thinking. But then I met Alice. She talks about being panicked … almost more than me. The difference is that she talks about being terrified and exploring new climbing areas, trying new climbs, falling on vertical walls in the same breath. She has a constant willingness to put herself in scary situations while being completely aware that she is scared.

Today's Rock Roots tells Alice Chiang's story of climbing through fear

Alice psyched to be in Colorado for the first time! “LET’S GO CRACK CLIMBING!”

LH: You moved to Boston without knowing anyone. How has climbing helped you expand your community in an unfamiliar place?

AC: Actually back in Seattle I was in grad school and found bouldering. It was such a social activity that it was one of the ways I ended up expanding my community. I was one of the few people in my program who regularly worked out and found new friends to boulder with me at our school’s climbing gym. I was also lucky to come to Boston at a time when new communities were being formed in the recently opened gyms. Participating in something that was evolving made it much easier to meet people who were more open to new faces, although climbers in general are pretty social.

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Fall Climbing Essentials

While we’re sad to see the sunny beach days of summer go, we’re pretty psyched for sending temps and lower humidity. Today we’ve got a few of our favorites to keep you looking good and climbing strong this fall!


1. Adidas Swift R Shoes – Fall sending temps mean that flip flops will no longer cut it as approach shoes. Adidas is busting into the climbing scene with a whole line of super cute and functional gear like these approach shoes. I dig how sturdy the entire shoe is, including the stiff tongue designed to not slide around while hiking. You know they had easy on and off between climbing in mind as well – instead of laces that tie, there’s a quick lace release system. On top of that, they come in a great teal color and black if you want something more low-profile. 

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Setting For The Heist: Interview with Flannery Shay-Nemirow


Now that Labor Day is past, and we can smell autumn in the air, we can feel the excitement building not only for “sendage season” here in New England, but also for all of the great comps that happen in our fair city in the coming months. We are really fortunate to see so many amazing climbers from all over the country right here in our backyard. One of the comps we are super psyched about is The Heist, an all female produced climbing comp, with an all female setting team (that’s right, all women set this comp, which makes it unique in the US). This year the head setter is the one-of-a-kind, super strong, Flannery Shay-Nemirow. We were fortunate enough to catch up with Flannery to ask her about her process in setting for The Heist, and also learn about the gal behind one of our fave climbing videos (if you haven’t seen it, you MUST click here, it’s a rule, sorry) where she talks about eschewing the conventional path of going to college, and instead embarking on her own educational journey through climbing. Read on for more about Flannery and The Heist!

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Girl Crush of The Month: Emma Twyford


This month we are crushing on UK climber Emma Twyford, who is not only pushing grades for female climbers across the pond by becoming the second UK woman to climb 5.14b (Unjustified in Yorkshire, England), and the first one to climb that grade within the UK, but also making a name for herself with her ascents of headier trad routes. Last year she became the second woman ever to climb E9 (which is a “bold”, i.e. poorly protected/sketchy route, see here for more info on UK grading if you are not familiar), and also crushes E7’s like it ain’t no thing, recently flashing (yep, flashing) an E7 Bucket Dynasty.

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