Mountain Gear put on another great Rendezvous outside of Las Vegas this past March. An enthusiastic and talented group of athletes converged on the event working in booths and teaching clinics throughout Red Rocks. I taught a really fun technique class on a classic 110′ slab called Ultraman. I had this sector in previous years and absolutely love the choice. There’s no better way to focus on footwork than to tackle slabs. J
But don’t let the slab part scare you away. Next to that classic is a shorter climb with actual hand holds. Although rated slightly harder than Ultraman, many clinic attendees think it feels easier. J
The groups ranged in abilities from never having climbed outside, being pregnant, to bouldering and experienced route climbers. I had a good mix of men and women in the clinics and on the second day, with some inspiration from the first, I had a special drill to run with those brave enough to try. I, of course, would be the first guinea pig.
There is an exercise I’ve done in clinics past to help work on footwork and that is to climb a slab blindfolded. You can use two tennis balls for your hands so they can grip the balls instead of holds, but it’s not necessary. The only rule is that your hands should not grip holds or the tennis balls can not be placed on holds for leverage. This turned out to be an exciting drill to host outdoors and Ultraman was the perfect climb for the experiment. After working my own footwork over the course of those two days and demoing the blind climbing, I can’t emphasize enough how much this focus helps. The next time I climbed, I felt like my feet were more precise, quiet and better weighted.
I’m always saying one can never get enough from footwork and no matter how often I return to the basics, whether in my own training or in clinics such as these, my assertion appears to be reaffirmed. While I love the Rendezvous as a mini-reunion of friends converging on an event for a short time from all across the States and Canada, I love doing the clinics. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and helping others expand their comfort zone and try something new all while having fun in a festive environment.
A special thanks to all of my sponsors for supporting me in this event. I had fun and it seemed like my clinic attendees did as well. See you next year!
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