What makes professional trad climbers like Hazel Findlay succeed and many others remain mediocre? I honestly don’t think there is any a major difference between the two. What is different is the magnitude of their work ethic. The are many people around the world who want to be a a better trad climber. The majority of us are recreational climbers but I do understand the complexity of being professional. I ran a 2:19 marathon years ago and ran professionally before getting into trad climbing.
Hazel Findlay, a professional british big wall, trad climber, is 100 percent committed to excellence. Malcolm Gladwell, in his outstanding book, Outliers, discussed that to be professional you need to have practiced for a minimum of 10,000 hours. How many people do you know who are that committed? I have been interested in and competed as a middle to long distance runner for the past 28 years. In addition, I also have a huge interest in climbing and do it recreationally.
That being said, Hazel is unique in the fact that she has been climbing since she was 7 years old. The focus only grew from there. Hazel was the first female from Britain to ever climb an E9 graded route. In addition, she also did something just as incredible climbing a 8c/5.14b route as well. A feat never achieved before by a British female.
Is Trad Climbing Dangerous?
Yes, there is no question about it. Trad climbing is dangerous and takes years of practice to get more accustomed to participating in the sport. In fact, there are far more people who die from trad climbing than they do from sport climbing. I highly advice not attempting this without proper training and guides.
You absolutely must been a keep a rope in front of your legs on lead. Do not try trad climbing without knowing the basics. Trad climbers also need to invest in the proper gear. Also, traditional climbers carry numerous items such as, hexes, cams and nuts that need to be placed in strategic locations in the wall you are going to climb.
Hazel Findaly is good at what she does and makes it look easy for a reason. One, she has been doing it since she was 7 and was taught well. Secondly, she has practiced for years doing the same routines over and over again. Repetition is definitely the key to mastery. Hazel was also awarded the Golden Piton award in 2013 from Climbing magazine for her outstanding efforts.
Every master was once a disaster – T Harv Eker, entrepreneur
Tips for Beginner Trad Climbers
Practice and often. I would also highly recommend to take a course and learn from other athletes and climbing specialists. I have done this myself and have learned quite a bit. Do not attempt wall climbing just because you watched a video or even took a course. Of course, these are good ways to get involved in the activity. That being said, safety is always the most important aspect of this sport.
There are specific locations that gear need to be placed into the cracks of a wall whether horizontally or vertically. Traditional climbing takes several years to perfect and is dangerous at best. Trad climbers often follow vertical features within the walls they climb. So, the rope is often times behind the climbers leg. You need to know how to keep the rope in front of your legs while on lead otherwise do not try this.
How Do I Start Trad Climbing
Below are a few of our top recommendations to safely get started in the sport of traditional climbing.
Investing in a course.
One of the best possible ways to get introduced into the sport of trad climbing is to take a course. There is nothing better than learning from a professional or someone that has been involved in this sport for many years
Seek out a teacher, guide or mentor
A mentor can teach you what to do and certainly what not do when it comes to climbing. Again, this is not a very safe sport. So, knowledge and practice is absolutely essential to your success
Research and study as much as you can about the sport
There is endless amounts of articles, YouTube videos and books available online to help you. Of course, nothing beats the actual “doing” component of climbing. You can watch all the videos or read all of the books you wish when it comes to trad climbing. It is the actual process of climbing yourself, preferably with other, more experience climbers nearby you, that will help you.
Use someone else’s gear.
Unless you have the funds to invest in climbing gear why not use someone else’s? Save yourself the money. Of course, if you are serious about getting into the sport then sooner or later you will need to invest in your own gear. That being said, a trusted friend, peer or teacher can always help with this. Racks usually cost close to $1,000 USD. So, be ready to invest in legitimate products when you’re ready. Until that time, use someone else’s gear if you can.
Additional Tips and Strategies
Review where your new rack will be used
Always research your local area in regards to climbing locations. You certainly want to have an idea of where you will be using your rack once you buy your own. Remember, a Minnesota rack is certainly not the same as your standard desert rack.
Use a Single Rack First
A single rack which is enough gear to get you to the top of most of your climbers is a must. So, you’ll want to ensure you have the adequate gear for this such as microcams, hexes, micronuts and camming nuts to name a few. In addition, you’ll definitely want a nut took, quickdraws and alpine draws on hand as well. Lastly, the list of items climbers need can be extensive so don’t be in a rush. Take your time with your research. Remember, Hazel Findlay and other top climbers had to start exactly how you are starting as well.
Pay Your Dues
If you are serious about being a climber you will certainly need to pay your dues. Yes, it does take an investment in time, equipment and patience to be a great climber. Professional climbers like Hazel certainly had to pay hers as well. Again, consistency, patience and not losing enthusiasm is absolutely key. You also have to be strong to climb so a gym routine, quality cardio work and mental visualization all will assist you in getting better. Lastly, don’t invest in cheap gear. Remember, that gear you are using is your safety. So, choose wisely with the gear you invest in.
We hope this post on trad climbers like Hazel Findley and others has been helpful to you. Remember, it takes at a minimum of 10,000 hours to become a master at anything. Of course, not all of us are seeking to become a professional trad climber like Hazel. That being said, we certainly can learn a lot about her and others by watching videos.
The importance of investing in quality equipment, courses and learning from true masters is absolutely essential. Remember, you can always start on very small climbs and work your way up from there. It is all about studying what the best climbers do, what they invest in, how they think and move. We all can learn from the pros and get better as climbers.