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Rafe1234

Steep Sport Climbing as Training for Alpine?

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I've spent quite a bit of time climbing at steep, fixed sport crags over the years, but my interest in it has waned significantly in recent times. Even with decreased interest in it as a sport, I feel compelled to keep doing it as a means of fitness, and worry that my fingers will become feeble without it, and also at the same time, wonder how much it actually helps my climbing (and sort of recent infatuation) in the mountains. Has training, and rehearsing on steep fixed routes been an integral part to growth as a becoming strong alpine climber, even though the style, methods, and mentality are extremely different? Or does one progress the most from just engaging in alpine style climbing more? Does that crusher finger strength really matter up there?

 

Any perspective from people having gone through the same thought process, and experience, would be interesting to hear.

 

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Sadly, the only thing about steep sport climbing that helps Alpine is how far above the carpark they are. The problem is 5.6 cruxes are much more akin to alpine difficulties than the moves you've been practicing. When the wife started climbing and I had to put up easy stuff for her it just didn't seem to be as easy as it ought to be. But I think its helped my alpine climbing. Its a whole different angle to get used to. Also you're looking for different terrain clues, at much longer runouts and if you try to pull hard you'll just tear holds off. Totally worth it though, do it all!

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while this does not address your question directly, it has lots of good info in the quest to prepare for alpine climbing.

 

http://willgadd.com/reader-question-manual-labour-or-office-job-for-mountaineering/

 

finger tendons of steel will not help much in your alpine climbing quest.

 

ability to move efficiently in 4th class, knowledge of weather, navigation, route reading, belay changeovers, licky split gear placements, first aid, general glacier skillz, low angle ice climbing, ect are the things one really needs to train to go in the alpine.

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I wouldn't say I've found the answer, but this is not exactly an answer anyway:

 

I think it depends on where you are, where you want to be. If, say, you currently climb 5.12 at the sport crag and 5.6 in the mountains, and want to climb alpine 5.10s, your weakness is not finger strength. However, if you aspire to 5.12 alpine routes then you should probably keep 5.12 sport climbing. I definitely see the people who FA'd the alpine routes on my wishlist "sport" climbing at Index.

 

My personal strategy has been to do as much alpine climbing as time, weather, and partners allow. I am not sure if this is the best way to progress (evidence would probably point to no actually :P) but it seems to be a pretty good way to do a lot of alpine climbing.

 

Either way, when we have 16 hours of daylight and predictable weather, it's as good a time as any to figure things out, see some sunset summits, maybe test out that "emergency blanket"...

 

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Like Laurel said it really depends on what type of alpine routes you want to do, snow slogs with steps of 5.6, long alpine rock with 5.10 and 5.11 or full on snowy mixed climbing. If its just the snowy slogs with mostly easy climbing I don't think its that beneficial at all. But if the goal is to climb 5.11 or M6 in the mountains on steep continues terrain I'd say steep sport climbing is extremely helpful. If you look at some of the best alpine climbers in the world they do or have climbed at least climbed 5.13. Hayden Kennedy, Josh Wharton, Ueli Steck, Rolo Garibotti, Steve House, and Colin Haley just to name a few. You are a lot less likely to get pumped and then scared on a pitch of 5.10 choss in the mountains if you don't get pumped in the first place and the climbing feels easy to you because you can climb 5.13. That being said you still need to learn how to climb intermediate terrain, make efficient belays, read terrain, climb steep snow and be ok with being uncomfortable. Athletic sport climbing is just one more piece of the puzzle to become an all around strong alpine climber.

 

 

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what was considered "hard" when I was coming up is now called "moderate". back in the '80s & '90s I got good results by "sport-climbing" to my limit (about 5.11) in alpine boots. climbing in winter, or mixed conditions, or in the "greater ranges" this is a skill that sets an alpinist apart, and will quickly get you up stuff that just might stop someone wearing approach shoes or rock shoes. with the advent of "modern" mixed climbing, rock climbing with crampons has also been helpful -- and might be critical if you hope to climb to your stated limit in any but the most forgiving conditions. it ought to go without saying that if you're sport-climbing with crampons, you'll do so discretely on less-than-popular venues.

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