On Saturday I went to The Climbing Unit in Derby for a BMC Regional Academy training session. You get invited to these extra sessions if you come in a podium position in your regions YCS qualifying rounds. The theme for this day was “Climbing Smart” and was run by Tom Greenall, Lucinda Whittaker and Dave Mason.
Firstly our group was split into two teams of about 4 kids in each group to create a warm up. My group created a pulse raiser whereas the other group created a warm up where they merged dynamic stretching with climbing. Once we’d finished them we showed them to the other group and tried them out. We learnt why warm ups are important activities to do before each climbing session.
Then we played a game of “minesweeper” on a taped out grid on the mats. There are hidden mines in the grid and each player tries to get the safe exit avoiding them. Once we had all played a few games to get the gist of it, we were split up again to make our own, harder, minesweeper grid. The other team tried out our grid and we tried out theres. Once we finished this the coaches explained how minesweeper can be like route reading because you have to choose which option to take in each move on a route or boulder problem.
Then we did an obstacle course where we pretended the the floor was made of lava and we had to try and get to the marked exit without touching the lava. Though it wasn’t clear there were two different paths you could take, one was longer but easier whereas the other was harder but shorter. Both teams chose a different course to each other and we both managed to finish it. Then the coaches explained how you can sometimes choose an easier, but longer, route in climbing or a shorter harder one and which way would work better. This was really fun!
We then each chose an easy climb, drew it and labelled the holds, the sequence and which hand or foot goes on each hold. We then showed this to the other members of our group and they tried out our climb using the sequence on the sheet.
The coaches then got an A3 piece of paper and asked us all what we think of when we first route read a climb. We thought of such things as the type of wall, the holds, the sequence and the crux. We then ordered the list into from first to last.
They then put us in pairs where we had two different aspects each from the list we had thought of, and had to list as many different things you should take into account when route reading. I had to write down different wall types to consider and I thought of roof, overhang, slab, vertical. I then had to think of what you would do with your feet when doing a climb, I wrote down a long list of techniques including smears, toe-hooks and heel hooks. I then linked them with the wall type. The whole group then found links between everyones different aspects of route reading. For example, what clipping positions would have to do with the sequence of the climb.
We were then shown eight different boulder problems and then for each climb we had the choice of wether we could on-sight them (try them without watching anyone else climb it) or flash them (watching a video of someone doing it or watching someone else try it).
I chose to on-sight most of them because I don’t know anyone else who climbs exactly like me! I on-sighted five of them and didn’t manage to finish three of them because they were supposed to be hard for the category A boys that were part of the session.
The coaches then put seven post-it notes on the wall, one for each day of the week before a competition. We were then given an aspect that you had to do think about that week, for example your bedtime and then had to stick it under which day(s) it applies to . I was given stretching and I put it under all the days (for some climbers such as me who has tight hamstrings) or just the day of the comp to loosen yourself up before the climb (for most other climbers).
Overall I thought it was a really fantastic day and I would recommend going to BMC Regional Academies if you get invited, or any other BMC activity sessions you may hear about.