Wednesday, 20 July

Short cuts to 8a

We have ranked 12 strategical and practical short cuts in order to push grades. Most climbers focus on strength, i.e. in comparison it is easier to develop technical, tactical and mental skill, which are in focus here. Give highest priority to the first four short cuts as the biggest gains are found here. The last four are really supplementary studies for reaching 8a and beyond. If this doesn't work our last trip is to go to Railay beach or Kalymnos!

1. Look down on your feet
Some 90 % of all climbers would improve simply by giving more attention to footholds instead of handholds.  A climber that is looking down will automatically stay more relaxed, find better positions for the feet and body and also lean less outwards than the one using the neck as a periscope. If you do this while training you will quickly adapt. An easy way of checking the experience of a climber is measuring how much of the time he spends looking downwards.

2. Avoid lactic acid - Lift your arms
If you could avoid lactic acid in your arms for a month or so, you would probably advance one grade as your muscles could grow instead of being broken down by acid. Top climbers (8a<) and other competitive athletes sometimes teach their muscles to work with acid as a source of energy, but only for short periods, as acid in the long run will break down their muscles. Warming up is the key to avoid acid. Very often, the arms are flooded and the blood circulation decreases as a result of too hard warming up. One trick of increasing the circulation is to lift and sink your arms when needed.

Practical short cuts

Strategical short cuts

1. Look down on your feet

2. Avoid lactic acid - Lift your arms

3. Breathing & Relaxation

4. As many metres/moves as possible

5. High point

6. Coaching & Memo in chalk bag

7. Finger positions

8. Safety & Fear

9. Pulsation holding

10. Recruiting muscles

11. Clipping later

12. Hang-dog

3. Breathing & Relaxation
'Breath' is something everybody has screamed or been encourage to do after some desperate moves. With your breathing you can either get more relaxed or, with some hyperventilation, more tensed and stronger. As yoga is based on breathing, so could your climbing. Before you start, concentrate on your breathing. This is something you have to practice. The best way of getting immediate relaxation on jugs after the crux is to focus on your breathing. Count down from 10, shut your eyes and imagine you are placed in syrup. Take some quick breaths and push through the next crux.

4. As many meters/moves as possible
During an hour a top climber do up to 100 metres per hour while other climbers fight to get 20 - 40. In order to build a broad base and avoid acid and injuries one should strive towards climbing easier grades. Some 50 % of your training should just be based on easy climbing where you could focus on technical training.


5. High point
Most climbers struggle with pushing themselves mentally but instead of falling they say 'Take' (I am one of these guys). By doing so you never learn where your limit is and you never practice making moves under pressure. It is very easy to give up when you realise this attempt won't take you to the top and you might be afraid of falling. However, if you once (or sometimes) go for a high point, meaning that you fight as long as possible including a jump to get chalk as high up as possible, you will get surprised. By climbing on top-rope you will make it easier to push yourself and by doing so you will take the advantage of training climbing under pressure.

6. Coaching & Memo in chalk bag
We think most climbers would gain from being coached while redpointing. This person should pep talk but also remind you of certain things like; Breathing, Finger positions etc. You could also put a memo symbol in your chalk bag like a coin or a stone which symbolises Breathing or Looking down. It is very easy to, once you have started to climb, getting into the zone and forgetting all your tactics.

7. Finger positions
The key to do the last moves is often to keep that closed crimp position. As you get more tired and lands on the last holds with open hand, you have to stop to adjust to the crimp position before you do the next move. This is almost impossible to do as a routine so here you want to hear your friend scream - Criiiimp!

8. Safety
Do you trust your partner 100%. If not, you will instinctively feel that something could happen when you?re standing there shaking with you feet well above the last bolt. By doing some short falls you will be a better team and your climbing will be better. Tell him that you want him to say ?? I got you, come on!?

Supplementary studies for reaching 8a, once you have done your homework above ;)

9. Pulsation holding
This is very hard to learn quickly but it's nevertheless one the best ways to improve your endurance by avoiding acid (pump). Your heart tries to pump out fresh blood more than once every second. As you hold a hold for some seconds the circulation is hindered. Try to pulsate your holds often even if only for a fraction of a second to keep the blood flowing. By training this technique you will quickly get a much better endurance compared to simply working your muscles.

10. Clipping later
Let's say you do five hard moves before reaching a jug and the clipping position. If you immediately, with high tension, put in the quick-draw and the rope it is like doing seven hard moves before you rest. Instead, strive towards relaxing (see short cut 3) first and chalk later, with low tension, then make the clip and you have just saved energy. 

11. Hang-dog
There are many tricks how to hang-dog from bolt to bolt. With a good technique, or a clip-stick, you will increase the actual climbing time instead of just being frustrated from not getting to the top of a climb. (We are preparing an article with some hang-dog tricks).

12. Recruiting muscles fibres 
Most of you do have to do some 30 minutes of climbing and some maximum moves until you have recruited all your muscle fibres. Once you start practicing and maybe hang-dog the route it is very easy to loose self-confidence as you don't feel that strong in the beginning. Don't start telling everybody that you feel weak or that it is bad conditions. Instead, recruit your muscles. If you are a slow starter you have to be like a robot (with no feelings) in the beginning of each climbing day.

When you have done a personal record it is very important to state that you think it was a hard climb, which suited you perfectly, you are in good shape and you have gor some tips from 8a and that you have been training hard lately. Otherwise it is easy that you will start hearing downgrading rumours ;)

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Wednesday, 20 July

Fabi Christof - The unknown #3 in the world

' life will never become boring.'

Fabi Christof est l?inconnu, n°3 mondial au classement combiné de depuis quelques années.  Les compétitions, les médias et les sponsors ne semblent pas s?intéresser à lui. Il se concentre uniquement sur l?enchaînement de 8c et de 8B. Essayez de trouver un n°3 mondial qui  paye son matériel ! Enfin, ce grimpeur allemand répond à une interview.

Depuis combien de temps est-ce que tu grimpes, et qu?est ce que cela représente pour toi ?

J?ai commencé l?escalade à Würzburg, ma ville natale, il y a une dizaine d?années. Cela se trouve à environ 140km du Frankenjura. Grimper m?a apporté quelquechose avec lequel il n?y a pas d?ennui. J?aime mettre toute mon énergie dans une voie ou un bloc et me sentir vraiement crevé physiquement après une bonne journée de grimpe.Je préfère d?ailleurs passer du temps dehors, en falaise ou sur les blocs. Maintenant, j?habite à Nuremberg, à 45 minutes du Frankenjura. Et ça fait vraiment du bien d?aller grimper après mes cours de sciences éco.


Quel style d?escalade est-ce que tu préfères ?

En général, je préfère les voies courtes ou les blocs. Nos voies font entre 15 et 30 mouvements et impossible de savoir si vous allez réussir le prochain mouvement dynamique de votre essai. Les mouvements sont vraiement durs au niveau des doigts et du physique. Mais j?aime aussi les voies de continuité. J?ai enchainé des voies de 45 mètres à lutter pour ne pas finir explosé dans les derniers mètres et ne pas tomber devant la chaîne. Selon moi, les blocs de grès et de granit sont le top. Au Frankenjura, on ne trouve pas une telle adhérence. J?adore cette adhérence qui permet de réaliser des mouvements impossibles.


Donc tu fais à la fois de la falaise et du bloc ?


1979 - Allemagne

Taille, Poids

170 cm & 63 kg


Punk, hardcore music,
concerts & splatter movies


Prana & Five Ten

Classement mondial

#3 au combiné
(voie + bloc)

Oui. Parfois, il y a un peu plus de pression en falaise. Et donc, après avoir enchainé une voie dure, je décompresse en faisant du bloc. Je fais des deux toute l?année, mais en hiver, je fais plus de bloc. En général, cela dépend de ma motivation.


Do you do special training for the fingery pocket climbs in Frankenjura, i.e. campusboarding like Güllich?

Pas vraiement. Parfois, je fais quelques séances de campus, mais quand je ne sors pas, je préfère faire du pan. Les voies et les blocs extrêmes au Frankenjura exigent de la force en arquée plutôt que de la force en trous, mais tout le monde fait l?amalgame en raison des photos d?Action Directe avec ses mouvements extrêmes en bi ou mono-doigts.


As-tu déjà essayé Action Direct?

Pas vraiement, mais j?ai regardé les mouvements quand un ami a essayé la voie. J?ai fais chaque mouvement, mais les enchainer, c?est autre chose. Pour cette voie il serait pas bien de faire du campus. Mais comme Action Direct est proche de chez moi, j?essaierai à fond quand je me sentirais assez for.


Une dernière question : pourquoi es-tu si peu connu ?

Je n?ai jamais pensé faire des entretiens ou des articles et je n?avais pas de sponsors jusqu?à cette année. Depuis peu, je reçois des chaussons de Five Ten et des vêtements de Prana. Et j?ai pris conscience de mon niveau, aussi je fais des efforts dans cette direction. En Allemagne, il est très difficile d?avoir des sponsors sans être un compétiteur et je n?ai quasiment jamais fait de compétition. Bonne chance pour l?avenir ;)

DelusionofGrandieur3.jpg CAD3ZT48.jpg KopievonShangrila2.jpg

Delusion of grandeur, 8B in Chironico

Fred Feuerstein, 8b+ in Frankenjura

Burn 4 you, 8c in Frankenjura

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Sunday, 3 July

Birmingham 2006


The first world cup in boulder of this year took place in this weekend.

45 men and 29 women competed in an event that turned out to be a great success with superb boulder problems. For the first time in the history a new format was tested. The best 20 in the qualifying round went to semi-finals and the best six in the semi climbed in the finals. The climbers were happy about it but had some worries about getting tired in the final, as the semi and the final were on the same day.

The women had the hardest schedule with the qualifying round at Saturday and both the semi-final and the final at Sunday. Olga Bibik from had the most powers in the final and won the event. Runner up was Emelie Abgrall from  and the third place went to Juliette Danion, also she from . Anna Stöhr (17) from ended up #4, Chloe Graftiaux (18) from  #5 and on #6 we had Celine Combaz from


This event was great French "show up" with 3 men and 3 women in the finals. The spirit was high in the isolation between the semi-finals and the finals. The French climbers enjoyed the time in isolation playing boule :)


The winner of the men?s event was Jéróme Meyer from France who seemed to have some difficulties on the very first problem in the semifinal and showed much frustration.

In the last minute he topped it out and after that nothing could stop him and he topped out all the problems that was remaining and finally won the competition fairly. Runner up was Killian Fischhuber from , last year?s world cup winner. On #3 was Cristian Core from , "I don?t care if I end up first or last as long as I give my best and push my limits".

On #4 we had Loic Gaidioz from France, #5 was Stephane Julien from France and on #6 we had Andrew Earl from Great Brittan.

Olga Bibik has the most powers left and won the worldcup Gabriele Moroni #13 on the dubbledyno.
Jéróme Meyer climbs convincing and won the mens event. The routesetters did a superb job.


Anna Stöhr ends up #4 Cristian Core gave all and ends up #3
Anja Hodann #9 Killian Fischhuber topping out the 3rd problem and ends up #2

Killian shows his muscles, trying to scare the french team ;) Stephane Julien wins the semi but end up #5


UIAA Climbing Deligate was Mr. Maco Scolaris who was very satisfied with the event, "no no, no problems, just solutions :)"

The new formate was a great success just like the whole event. I belive that having a semifinal for the best 20 will motivate many of the climbers to compete in the upcoming events.
Some of the women looked really tired in the final, wich is not so hard to understand. I belive that some of the climbers will do some more endurance training before the next event in Bulgary. The public enjoyed the show and the climbers were very happy about the boulderproblems. "The problems were great, perfect level", Daniel Dulac who sensationally missed the semifinal and ended up #25.


Text and Pictures by: Björn Strömberg


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Sunday, 3 July

Final: Mrazek & Eiter

Tomas Mrazek hangs horizontal, smiles and gives thumps up and start waving with his left hand to get us scream more. The world champion from 2003 has done it again. The first four WC events didn't turn out very good and he decided to skip the Zürich event to be better prepared for the championship in Münich. The qualifications started out with him setting a new isolation world record at 16 hours and 50 minutes. He was also last out in both the semi and the final but all this waiting didn't break down the world's best male climber in the world. Runner up is Patxi Usobiaga and the bronze goes to Alexandre Chabot.

Angela Eiter (19) has won the last five WC events and she seems to to be more superior then ever. In the roof she looses her feets but this dosen´t seem to bother her and she continues with a one-arm pull-up campusing through the crux. Runner up among the female is sensationally Emily Harrington followed by Akiyo Noguchi who were tied at #8 in the semifinal.

Angela Eiter, the superior world champion Angela doing the one-arm pull up, campusing the crux
Tomas Mrazek with the Czech flag Patxi Usobiaga a happy runner-up


Katharina Sauwerin from Austria #8 - 18 years old Tomas Mrazek finding the no-hands rest in the semi
Emily Harrington from USA #2 Muriel Sarkany from Belgium #10

Pictures by Björn Strömberg

The lead event turned out to be a great success with perfect routes and some 3 000 cherfull spectators. The only debacle was that the leader from the semifinal, Ramon Julian Puigblanque unfortunately was discqulified from the final as he had missed that the isolation closing time was changed. A protest was delivered by the spanish team but the jury said that this change had been presented at the official message board.

Tomorrow starts the spped event and you better follow it at the official website as we are going Frankenjura for some climbing. The boulder event will start on monday and Tomas will for the first time participate. Angela has to wait two years as she didn't quallify - I was busy doing my final exams, she tells us as she is in the Press centrum getting the prize money of Euro 2 300.


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Saturday, 2 July

Semifinal - 8a members dominate


1. Ramon Julian Puigblanque cruises the semi.

2. Tomas Mrazek finds the no-hands rest.

DSCF0250.JPG 3. Patxi Usobiaga
1. Angela Eiter - only competitor to top out the semifinal. DSCF0335.JPG
5. Jorg Verhoeven - Fastest climber with the camera guy training to pop out of the hole. DSCF0236.JPG
DSCF0194.JPG 7. Maxim Petrenko
3. Sandrine Levet shows the french team the under-cling move. P7020010.JPG
P7020012.JPG 15. Peter Bosma - doing the memorize game.

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Friday, 1 July

Day 1 - Isolation marathon

Day 1 - Isolation marathon


A new record of participators created an isolation marathon. #1 Björn Stromberg had to wake up at 5.12 in order to be prepared for an early start at 08.00. 

Tomas Mrazek, who won the championships two years ago in Chamonix, is scheduled to start climbing the first route at 20.00. Then he has to go to isolation #2 and if everything goes OK, he will be ready at 21.15, after a total of 14 hours in the isolation.

Mrazek don't really complain. He thinks it's great with many competitors but say that they have to reduce isolation time. Most probably he will stay 10 hours on an average over four days, in the iso, as he also will participate in bouldering.



- I think that they could divide the participators into two groups or close the iso five hours later for the last starters. An other alternative would be flash in the qually as in the junior world.

Imagine the waiting hall in a Ryan air airport on strike. People trying their best to "kill time" and at 14.45 the Slovenian team seems to be in the lead. They have been in this situation before.

I talk to some other but most are quite happy at this time of the day. The winner last weekend in Zürich, Cedric Lachat, is just relaxed and say that the iso is much better here. In Zürich it was smaller, hotter and no food.

Patxi Usobiaga pops by and I just hear him say, with a big smile - Flash, flash flash!



Bild 010.jpg
Bild 002.jpg Warming up wall.
Bild 008.jpg Arman Salada from the Phillipines with a sample of his personal climbing brand.

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Friday, 1 July

Boulder finals

A Perfect Show

Last out in the finals is Olha Shalagina from Ukraine. Nobody has done the last boulder. Olha has so far done 11 boulders in 11 tries and off course she does it directely and the crowd salutes her. Olha is the queen of the world championship as she also was #4 in the lead event, quite surprising as she hasn't competed in boulder WC's in a year and in lead she was outside the top-10 in the world ranking prior to the world. An interview is hopefully on the way to explain all this.

The men event turned out be another perfect show with super dynamic and spectacular problems which Salavat Rakhmetov from Russia managed to do all in first try, rather easy it actually seemed. Second was Kilian Fischhuber from Austria followed by Gérome Pouvreau who also did all six problems.  

Pictures by: Björn Strömberg

#1 Olha Shalagina - a superior winner and queen of the championship #3 Vera Kotasova - fighting for the last hold
#2 Ioulina Abramtchouk Olha
Vera #5 Anna Stöhr Austria -only girl outside Eastern Europe, top-8
#1 Salavat RAKHMETOV (RUS)  #4 Serik KAZBEKOV (UKR)
#3 Gérome POUVREAU (FRA)

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Friday, 1 July

Analyses and Pics of World Champ 2005

The World Championships 2005 in Munich was a great success for our growing sport. There were some 500 names from 45 countries on the starting lists. In fact, the success made it hard for both the competitors, the organisators and the spectators with very long days for everyone. Tomas Mrazek spent 17 hours in the isolation on the first day, and in total he was locked up there for close to 30 hours. ICC are planning to modify the format and we would not be surprised if they will try to introduce flash in the lead qualifications next year. 

Lead Boulder
1. Tomas Mrazek (24) Czech R. Angela Eiter (19) Austria Olha Shalagina (22) Ukraine Salavat Rakhmetov (37) Russia
2. Patxi Usobiaga Emily Harrington (19) Ioulia Abramtchouk Kilian Fischhuber
3. Alex Chabot    Akiyo Noguchi (16) Vera Kotasova Gerome Pouvreau

VM2005 007.jpg It is easy to analyse what is needed to be a winner as all top-8 in the six categories, except three French climbers (45 out of 48), either (1) come from Eastern Europe, (2) train in Kletterzentrum in Insbruck or (3) are 19 years or younger.

It is remarkable that about half of the top-8 men and women in lead climbing train regularly in Insbruck, including Mrazek, Usobiaga, Verhoeven, Petrenko and Kazbekov. The strongest Eastern dominance is found in women bouldering where all except Anna Stöhr (19) were from Eastern Europe.

Reini Scherer - trainer from Kletterzentrum in Insbruck
"Everyone is welcome to train". Interview is coming up!

"No secrets, a good community creates motivation".
"Next year, David Lama will be among the top ten".

The average age on the women's lead podium was 18 with third-placed Japanese Akiyo Noguchi as the youngster at 16. Youngest of the best men was 18-year-old Nalle Hukkataival, who finished 5th in bouldering. 

There has been some turbulence in Spain because of the discqualification of Ramón Puigblanque. The Spanish coach has resigned taking full responsibility of the debacle. However, on the Desnivel website the federation has expressed that the former Spanish coach did say that he thought the trainers of Patxi Usobiaga could have done more. Patxi and his trainers have responded, through the website of Patxi, that there was nothing they could do once the isolation had been closed. Ramón travelled with the official Spanish coach and Patxi's trainers had no responsibility to check if he had got the correct time. It should have been the other way around.

It was interesting to see that seven climbers made it to the finals in both lead and bouldering. Maybe not such a big surprise as the boulder competition format also favours onsight and endurance since the climbers have to do six boulders in 54 minutes, including anything up to 15 attempts. However, in the men's final the route setters had made two problems (a mantle and a bridge move) which were virtually impossible for route climbers.The routesetters did a very good job overall, except with the speed route which had to be modified and the qualitication re-started after several women failed to climb it;) 

patxi6.jpg emily9.jpg
Patxi Usobiaga topping out the final and salutes to our photographer - Jörg Zeidelhack Emily Harrington (19) from USA, a sensational silver medalist. - I didn't feel I had any pressure, I just had fun.
Bild 003.jpg P7020010.JPG

Ramón Julian Puigblanque missed the changed isolation closure time and was disqualified. Otherwise with 90 % probability he would have been the World Champion.
"The Championship was stolen from me."

The French in general and Sandrine Levet in particular didn't meet expectations. Eastern Europe dominated the women's boulder scene.

kili3.jpg gerome3.jpg
Kilian Fischhuber (22) from Austria. No trainer, climbs mostly routes outdoors. Interview is coming up. Gerome Pouvreau (22) from France, 3rd in bouldering 2005 and winner in lead 2001.
olha4.jpg salavat6.jpg
Olha Shalagina (22) from Ukraine - winner in bouldering and 4th in lead! She also had a victory in speed in 2004. Interview is coming up! Salavat Rakhmetov (37) from Russia - 12 boulders in 12 attempts. Outstanding! Close to 100 World Cup competitions since his first victory in 1991.

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