equipment | Climbing ETIQUETTE – How to show you are NOT a douchebag

I sincerely wonder why I didn’t write about this before! Just this morning on a little training session in the bouldering gym I was reminded how “mainstream” climbing and particularly bouldering has become!

Frankonia | Old Days [1996]

Frankonia | Old Days [1996]

20 years ago, there was a bunch of boys and girls trying to fight their way through deep undergrowth and off the beaten path in some woods to get to the holy grail. The latter mostly in form of a dark, soggy, moss covered rock deep in the forest. True that rarely happens with today’s boulderers or climbers, and true also that we already discovered the “easy” potential out there. Or the alternative scenario when back in the days you arrived at your favorite climbing spot and some 65 year old veteran was jogging up that 60m slopy and technical 5c completely unprotected, without chalk and in his EBs. That was long before Alex Honnold could even say “Mama”. However some of the stuff that used to make the difference in climbing and how climbers interacted somehow seems to have gotten lost along the way from the veteran to modern day industrialized climbing gyms. Thus for those that still care, here the basic points for climbing etiquette:

  1. Always watch out for others, if you are in a route make sure your moves don’t impact someone left, right or below you. In a climbing gym do watch out if you are the belayer that you don’t drop your partner on someones head.
  2. Do not enter a route or a boulder where others are training, without their consent, especially in a bouldering gym, do NOT enter a boulder that crosses into a boulder that others are doing.
  3. Outside watch out where you step or what you grab. If you reach an area which might have dirt or pebbles on it, make sure you do not throw the stuff down or at least warn your partner/others befofe you do. Even a very small pebble can cause severe injuries.
  4. You do not assume that just because you climb harder you are a better person. Anyone who takes on climbing does a good thing, respect that!
  5. Don’t leave anything, and I mean ANYTHING at all, wherever you climb, that applies for indoor and outdoor climbing/bouldering. If you need to follow nature, go far and dig deep! Don’t be an ass, please!

This said, don’t take whatever you do too serious. Climbing should be about fun, nature and people and not purely grades. So enjoy what you are doing and show respect to your environment, nature and people!

equipment | YOUR starter pack

This is about everything you need to start your climbing career. Depending on your area of choice, Bouldering or Climbing, the invest varies massively. While bouldering is less capital intensive, Climbing, particularly outside and in traditional areas (excluding alpine and bigwall climbing) can be very costly and easily far beyond the 2.000€. But let’s start with the easy version:


  • In general bouldering is much more versatile and athletic than climbing. For your shoes that means they should be able to support you along the whole style range: toe and heelhooks, jams, small ledges, sharp edges, slaps, etc. The shoe can be tighter and much more aggressive than your climbing shoe as if necessary you can take them off after each boulder and just need them for 30-60 seconds, max 5min if it’s a really tough and high one. You can identify the aggressive shoes by their banana-like form from the side. Make sure the heel is well covered with rubber as well as the upside of the front foot.
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  • This might seem a little odd, of course you can use your chalkbag from climbing, but I would suggest a different approach. Take one of the special bouldering chalkbags. The difference is the size. While at climbing the chalkbag is attached to a cord around your waist, during bouldering you don’t necessary need to carry the chalkbag with you during the boulder, but you might need much more chalk and have a few accessories (like the brush, tape and other stuff you can store in the chalkbag.
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  • Back in the days when I started with bouldering around 20 years ago, we used normal toothbrushes to clean little holds in the woods, or used large cleaning or steel brushes for the tougher work. This sounds romantic but had a little downside, a) the steel brushes still in use today, destroy not only the moss or dirt on the rock but also the integrity of the rock itself, b) the toothbrushes were actually a bit too small and even the hard ones not good enough to clean the holds from rubber dirt and chalk. So the bouldering industry decided to take action and develop dedicated brushes. Key features compared to toothbrushes are: they are broader, longer and with tighter brush-settings.
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  • The crashpad is only needed outside of course, but there unequally more important. 20 years ago, we didn’t have the comfort of protection no matter how high the highball, climbing cuel de chien in Fontainebleau without crashpads is completely unthinkable for today’s boulderers, but a reality to us, back in the days. Nevertheless I fully support the use of crashpads in bouldering and to be honest I sometimes find myself walking through the High Sierra with 3 Crashpads on my back. When buying a crashpad test it first. If it is too firm it’s not of much use, same applies to a crashpad that’s too soft. In general take a look at the layering inside the pad, it should have a thinner harder layer, a thicker medium hard layer and again another harder layer. In general most of the big brand pads are reliable and high quality enough. No name ones should be compared to one of the pads in the pictures below. I personally favour the Edelrid, but have used several others, including PAD crashpads and BEAL pads. In Bishop I prefer to have 3 with me, In Fontainebleau 2 are enough, same applies in my view to the Grampians, but that’s all subjective. You should have at least one!
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Climbing Yoga | … or being complimentary

Yoga is probably the most logical enhancement to a successful climbing career, particularly if you consider the long-term effect. Short-term simple cardio and peak performance training might bring you more immediate success and improvements. The effects of Yoga (Wiki) on your climbing are more subtle. While classical training techniques (see here: Lizenz zum Klettern (German)), focus on the generation of strenghts and blocking powers and uses the stretching techniques only to counterbalance the effects of those trainings, Yoga in my view takes a different approach, independent of the actual climbing training.
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Climbing Grades | EU – FR – US

Climbing Grades | EU - US - FR

Climbing Grades | EU – US – FR

Just to help you navigate through the grade jungle here a quick overview of the current grading scales, there exist several others (Norwegian, Australian, UK, etc.) but these are by far the most popular ones in the Americas and Europe-Mainland.

Climbing grades are not really objective numbers. The grades listed on the right include several dimensions like route style (slab, wall, overhang, etc.), size of the crimps, quality of the footholds, distance and complexity of the movements, etc.
However what all the grading scales on the right do not include is the mental and security component of the climb, e.g. is the protection sufficient or do you die before reaching the first or second bolt, or how stable are the moves in relation to the protection given. Is the route protected with anchors or bolts or at least protectable with your own gear. The only climbing scales that do include the above mentioned features are the British, the Alpine and in part the Australian system. Both systems are not used outside of their local areas. That is in part due to the peculiar style of climbing in the UK which per default includes precarious routes with limited to no protection possibilities.
You sometimes wish that the scales on the right would also reflect a mental or protection component, as this does not mean in routes with those scales you do not encounter massive mental challenges or issues with the protection. However in cases where the scales on the right are used you need to rely on good guidebooks with comments about the quality of the rock, the protection or potential run-outs. In part that makes the UK system kind of fairer and more predictable, but far from less dangerous. So always scout the routes (e.g. the bolts, their distance and quality) and the area (e.g. for fallen rocks). Particularly in areas exposed to extrem weather conditions watch out for rusty anchors or chains. In all circumstances check the distance to the first bolt and judge the toughness of the route until that point as well as the area below the route, also check the 2nd and 3rd bolt, particularly in areas such as Palatina and the Altmuehltal in Germany the first bolt can be deceitful and even a fall below the 2nd or 3rd bolt can mean certain injury, so make sure you can climb the grade in your sleep and fully control it.

In general climb responsibly and base the risk on your capabilities!

Climbing Videos | Motivation

The Swarm | Amate Films Production, 2012

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Tirol or “how to make sense of Austria”

Climbers Paradise | the cow

Climbers Paradise | the cow

Tirol is a very subjective affair. Normally I hate any climbing area with too many people around, to much industrialized climbing and weekend-climbers with a strong disregard for basic climbing rules. Normally at least… But somehow Tirol is different. Maybe it’s the great food, maybe the stunning landscape, maybe the extremely well protected and stressfree climbing, or maybe I’m just getting old and lazy.

The good thing about Tirol is the location at the heart of Europe. It’s easy to get to, extremely well protected, with great loging, and other spare time activities available.

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equipment | Polar Loop

_Summary | Not quite sure what to make of this… complex stuff…

Polar | loop - package

Polar | loop – packaging

Interesting enough I ordered the POLAR LOOP shortly after buying the NIKE+ FUELBAND SE. And that wasn’t a coincidence. I thought initially the lack of functions and ridiculuous inacuracy of the FUELBAND SE would bother me in the midterm, but after around 1 week with it, I actually started to like the incredible comfort the FUELBAND SE. That’s when the POLAR LOOP arrived. At first ou notice the a bit lackluster packaging of the LOOP (see pic). OK, it’s a lot cheaper (50€) than the NIKE competition but that doesn’t necessarily justify shabby packaging. After unpacking it the next shock, the armband of the LOOP needs to be manually “adjusted” or more precise: you need to get out the scissors and  cut the damn thing on both sides, oh and before I forget it: you need to use the precision gear included in the pack in order to separate the clasp from the armband. In one word: stupid!
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equipment | La Sportiva SPEEDSTER

_Summary | The FUTURA without stability

La Sportiva | Speedster | evaluation

La Sportiva | Speedster | evaluation

To  be honest the heading is probably a bit of a harsh judgement but in the essence kind of true. The SPEEDSTER is indeed based on the same design as the FUTURA, but given the fact it’s a ballerina/slipper it lacks the added stability that the velcro gives its bigger brother. I cannot support some of the other testers coming to the conclusion that this is one of the most aggressive ballerinas ever made. In the contrary I think it’s a relatively tame version of a slipper, the problem is that even if you buy it tight, it lacks in stability what it tries to make up for in aggressive form. At least for me the compromise doesn’t add up. In addition it has the same design drawbacks as the FUTURA, particularly the lacking sustainability due to the ‘edgeless’ sole design. On the upside though the SPEEDSTER is relatively ‘cheap’ compared to the nearly 50€ thus 50% more expensive bigger brother. So if you can forgo the additional stability of a velcro or a lacing, and don’t want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on a climbing shoe, the SPEEDSTER is a decent alternative.
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equipment | Nike+ FuelBand SE

_Summary | stylish motivation missing out on the basics

Nike+ | Fuelband SE

Nike+ | Fuelband SE

Just got the NIKE+ FUELBAND SE in the mail the other day. After months of considering whether to get the JAWBONE UP, the FITBIT FLEX; the POLAR LOOP or the NIKE+ FUELBAND SE I finally decided for the latter. The decision was not an easy one as the FUELBAND SE isn’t necessary the cream of evolution among the activity trackers.

It does not track movement acurrately except walking, it does not work in water, it does not measure pulse, heartrate or anything concretely related to your body, it only connects with iOS devices and actually only really with the iphone.
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equipment | La Sportiva KATANA

_Summary | the best friend – comfy and reliant

La Sportiva | Katana | evaluation

La Sportiva | Katana | evaluation

This one looks a bit strange. The test summary seems to hint at a mediocre shoe, seldom hitting the top ten. That’s not completely true. The KATANA scores best notes in all the key basic feature categories: fit, comfort and stability. Key for the KATANA is exactly this great basic performance. You can wear it all day, in 30 degrees heat, or cold days where you need to wear socks during climbing. It’s the most comfy shoe I’ve ever worn, in all circumstances.

Bottom line: yes it’s indeed not the top performer across the board, but with a consistently strong performance throughout it is the companion you are looking for if you need reliability, stability, and if you need to worry about other things than your shoes. In short, if you just want to enjoy a chilled climbing day, are not looking for peak performance and climb in your comfort zone, this is the tool you need!

Material | mix of artificial leather with natural leather
Sole | Vibram Formel XS Edge (4,0 mm)
Price |
Shop | Bergfreunde | Sporthaus Schuster | SportScheck.CH (men)/(women)

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