As the days get longer and the sun shines warmer, many climbers turn their thoughts to warmed-up spring rock and, later, shady summer cragging. There are, however, those that see spring and summer as ideal off-season training months for the coming fall and winter of ice and mixed climbing. After all, it’s already April and that means only six months until the next winter climbing season!
Will Gadd has been at the forefront of ice and mixed climbing for the past two decades or so, and maybe more, but the Internet doesn’t go back that far and it honestly seems like a redundant question anyway. Will’s really damn good at whatever he does from climbing ice, mixed, spray-ice, drytooling, rock (the hands-on variety) to kayaking and paragliding, and even more obscure sports such as parenting and cooking yet he somehow manages to stay in shape to climb world-class routes year after year. I figure who better to ask for some advice on how to stay fit during the off-season?
Here are Will’s top tips to stay in shape for winter while getting through those long, hot, summer days:
- Move. If you bike, hike, run, kayak, swim, or do something every day then you’ll have a decent basic fitness for climbing when winter rolls around again. Most people get all worked up about diet, number of reps and exercises when they really just need to be an athlete at some basic level every single day. Yoga does not count.
- Climb. Climbing is climbing. If you can onsight 5.11 sport and 5.10 trad routes of all varieties and terrain types 90 percent of the time then fitness for ice climbing will not be an issue.
- If you do one and two then the rest honestly don’t matter. Climb regularly, exercise lots, you’ll be good to go in the fall. There are a thousand subtleties, but over the years I’ve found consistent athletic movement and sport-specific training to be the two most important factors athletic success. The rest is mostly noise.