Here we bring you an opinion and view on benefits gained from climbing and being coached by Patxi Usobia written by one of the participants, Miha Popovic. This Advance Sport Climbing Coaching took place in Catalunya, Spain around well know village Oliana, Patxi's home area. Enjoy reading.
We are in the same boat, we both love rock climbing. Maybe you just recently discovered this amazing activity, maybe you started some years ago. Climbing is becoming a bigger part of your life and most people you call friends or you spend the most time with, are climbers.
You can not stop thinking about it. Thinking of that boulder problem in the gym, or that route in the local crag.
You have been trying hard to send that one climb stuck in your mind, but somehow the more you tried the farther it seemed. Let it be gym training after work, bouldering, lead climbing, and maybe even occasionally going up the mountains for the weekend, you find yourself plateauing at a certain grade. It seems it is getting harder and harder to overcome climbs you set your eyes on.
There might be a vast variety of reasons and depending on the style of the climb, they can range from lack of strength, low endurance, poor flexibility, or lack of focus at a tricky technical climb. On top of that, your shoes might not be best for that climb. Shoes that help you feel your body and balance, which your feet and hips should provide. All these factors can bring the emotional feeling of not being good enough. This can worsen the problems and bring out our weaknesses. In the worst case, we lose our motivation and eventually we stop climbing. It happens more than we think.
My own personal experience was the lack of proper strength in my forearms. As cliché it might sound, all indices were pointing there. Of course, we all want to be stronger in our fingers, but not being able to hang on a campus board for more than a second while climbing way into 7th grade, told me something was wrong. My peers could not only hang on their fingertips they could climb up the campus board and they were in mid-6th grade.
With years, some of the strength came along while progressing up the grade, but there was always this type of lead climbs, that were specifically bouldery, with a crux defining the grade. Also, I was really bad at actual bouldering. Something needed to be changed in the way I was trying to get better and stronger.
Sometimes we imagine what we can do to better ourselves but we are not quite sure. What we really need is somebody with some credibility to tell us. Sometimes we learn from our climbing buddies, maybe we are lucky to have stronger, more experienced friends in our circle. We can as well sign up for local climbing courses or clinics, read some tips from popular climbing magazines, or watch YouTubers explaining how to train. But we can agree that the best would be to get personal advice from someone whose success tells us they know what they are talking about. Even better if this person is a Pro and not just any Pro. It can be telling if that person was chosen to be a personal trainer for the best overall sport climber in history, Adam Ondra.
Patxi Usobiaga is a Spanish pro climber who has won the World Championship in Qinghai, 2009. He is also one of few people who has won two overall Lead Climbing World Cup competitions in a row. His way to success has always been very sophisticated, complex, and exceptionally strict (and hard) training. Patxi is the first climber ever to ascend 8c+ on sight. He has redpointed various routes of 9a and 9a+ grades.
I was lucky enough to meet Patxi at one of the Rockbusters Advance Courses in Oliana. I was on a climbing trip and stopped there to meet up with a friend who invited me to join the course for a couple of days.
This course is not there to teach you how to climb as you are expected to have some experience, at least comfortable with the 6c routes. I thought I must be ok with my personal comfort at 7b and getting stuck at 8a max.
We met up with the team at Patxi’s Climbing gym in beautiful Coll de Nargó. The gym is super nice, sharing a place with an excellent climbers bar. We started the day by getting to know each other while having freshly brewed coffee. It was a rainy morning, so it was not bad to be stuck in the gym, where actually all the magic started to happen.
It was necessary for Patxi to get to know and learn each participant’s strengths and do the first analysis, which will be important later for when climbing outdoors. Here we learned some of the exercises of how to properly warm up the body and most importantly our fingers. In one of the tests that followed, we determined our absolute strength for our body weight. I realized I was not that strong and was more at the weakest end of the group.
It was also great to hear some of his experiences in his success and his struggles in climbing. How he was afraid of lead climbing when he was starting to climb and how he was pushed and eventually overcame his fear and became one of the best sport climbers in history from whom even Adam Ondra takes advice.
When we were done with the time in the gym, the rain had stopped and the sun was already shining strong. It was time for a lunch and short “siesta” before we met at the parking of the closest shady crag.
What I loved about this and the next couple of days was how Patxi took time for each individual and putting them on carefully chosen routes. This way he could get more information about their weaknesses and strengths, and challenge them with routes at which they might or could progress more. Let it be your climbing mindset that needs improvement, endurance, or in my case forearms’ power strength. With all this data, Patxi can suggest your personal training plan with the possibility to supervise your progress in the long term.
Even though I was there only for a couple of days, I came out with a set of new tips on how to become better, how to actually train, and more importantly, what to train on more. I am looking forward to more success in my personal progression.