Is my climbing more about feeling or thinking?

Created by: Adam Ondra

You have written a lot of comments under the latest video on my YouTube channel again. Topics? A special rope, bowlines, the knot, quickdraws or is my climbing more about thinking, or feeling? So I decided to answer a few of them.

What passes through your mind?

"But while climbing, what passes through your mind? I mean, thoughts are as rational, verbally shaped and meaningful as you express them in the comment, or rather you feel you have to go you feel you can rest, you feel the kneebar is not worth trying, and so on? It's more thinking, or more feeling?"

It is all about the feeling. I try to be as rational as possible before and after climbing, but while I am climbing, everything has to be automatic. I don’t think in words or sentences, I just climb. It is more of an intuition that is performing the moves. But the software (= the rationale information before an onsight try) is already somehow recorded into the intuition.

Who puts the quickdraws up?

"I've always wondered how or who puts the quickdraws up on these hard routes? Are they ones just left in the bolts, does the filming crew rap down and put them in or does another climber climb up and put them in ahead of Adam going for the onsight?"

In many of the hardest routes, the quickdraws are fixed. Or somebody is projecting it long-term and leaves the quickdraws there for a long time. This was the case of Solitary Souls. A few times, I asked my film crew or a friend to put the quickdraws for me (usually just rappelling down the neighboring route), but in some cases I wanted to go as pure as possible - onsighting while clipping my quickdraws off the harness. I have done routes up to 8c+ in this style.

Bowline variations

"I keep seeing climbers switch to bowline variations for tying in, and I wonder if it is just a trend, or if there is a big advantage (other than untying) to using it instead of figure 8..."

The knot I am using is single bowline with double fisherman knot. The main advantage is that it is much easier to untie, it never gets stuck, it is very small and I can get very close to my harness which makes the clipping easier (you can reach higher to clip just by holding the rope in your hand just above the knot and then let the rope slide through your hand instead of putting it to your mouth) . And the closer to your harness the knot is, the less prone you are to falling upside down.

IMPORTANT: This knot is methodically NOT recommended and yes, it MAY untie while you are climbing. It can happen if your rope is new-ish (and that means it slides easily) and if you don’t tighten the knot with a lot of force. I am always splashing chalk on the knot in case of new rope to increase the friction and I do tighten it with a lot of force. The reasonable and recommended alternative, pretty common and very safe is double bowline. It is almost as big as eight, but at least it is always easy to untie. Nevertheless, you might have a problem using single bowline or double bowline in most of the climbing gyms.

Do you have to use a special rope?

"Bit of an ignorant question here, but when a route is that long do you just have to use a special rope that's 80 or 100m long in order to get lowered if you get stuck on a high up spot and can't reach the chains?"

I usually climb with 80m rope. In case you are climbing even longer route, you have to make intermediate anchor. For example, if the route is 60m, you would use 80m rope, get to the top of it, you get lowered for another 20m to the height of 40m (usually routes longer than 40m are equipped with some intermediate anchors and they are thought to be climbed with 80m rope). You fix yourself, untie, lower down the rope above you, tie back in and you can lower all the way to the ground. BUT ALWAYS, make sure there is a knot on the other side of the rope. This is potentially the most common fatal error in climbing!!!

Don't forget to watch the new video on my AO YouTube channel.

See you next time!

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