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Secrets to becoming a semi-decent climber

Black Diamond Local Hero and familiar face around TCA Glasgow, Lucy Ross has compiled her secrets to becoming a semi-decent climber:

1. A home for climbing

Over the last 8 years I have climbed at The Newsroom a lot. I basically live there. So find a climbing wall or crag where you feel comfortable to call home. If you can’t actually live at a climbing wall, it’s important to make your home as climbing-friendly as possible, before your flatmate gets mad at the level it has gone to.

2. Climb outside as often as possible

This is hard when you live in Scotland and the prime conditions are never on a day when you’re not working. When you can’t climb outside and it’s raining again, do some Adam Ondra style rolling on the floor, watch beta videos of your project and watch mellow videos on YouTube for motivation and to keep your climbing spirits high. Finally, write a tick list for yourself for the next year. Goals are important.

L-R: Chiara at Bowden Doors 2020, My first comp 2012, Font 2014, Font 2016, First trad trip Reiff 2016, Font again, Ewan in Chulilla 2019.

3. Pub nights (always important)

Top tips for pub nights out with climbers.

  • Hone the ability to show people the beta for your project by just talking and using your hands.
  • Be able to decipher all the important climbing terms to keep up with climbers’ chat.
  • Always be covered in chalk for some reason, even if you haven’t climbed that day.
  • Always have a climbing trip planned (even if it’s just a dream), so that you can talk about faraway rocks, as well as rocks close to you.
  • Lastly, find your send drink (only acceptable after 7a)!

4. Tunes that get you psyched

Some of my favourite playlists to get psyched are: Techno Bunker by Spotify, Techno by Sam Scriven, TCA beats by John Hutchinson. There are definitely some climbing wall classics that are on in any gym most of the time and we all secretly love them; Can’t do without you – Caribou, Did you really know – Mungo’s Hi-fi, In my car – Gold Panda, Glue – Bicep, Pick up – DJ Koze, Kona– Alan Fitzpatrick, and pretty much anything by the Chilli Peppers. There are loads more and if you’re lucky good tunes will be played at your gym, it’s a tried and tested theory. If you don’t know these songs, give them a listen and tell me you don’t feel psyched. And if you want the best beta for that move you’ve been stuck on, it’s some techno!

5. Route-setting – breaking the code

Routesetters are a strange breed of climbers that not many people can understand, so as a routesetter I have some useful translations:

  • “That foothold is too good” meaning, “who needs feet anyway, power smear!”
  • “Try and break the beta” means, “ha, bet you can’t.”
  • You break the beta, routesetter crying inside says “aye, but that’s not the easiest way.”
  • “Feels like a bag of spanners” translates to “fix it, now!”
  • Climber: “what’s this jumping rubbish, it’s not real climbing.” Routesetter so proud of themselves: “Comp style! Can’t you tell?”
  • Routesetter: “I think it’s maybe soft, 7b at the most” translates to “must be 7c+, at least.”

6. Love for climbing.

This is by far the most important. I personally love climbing. It makes me happy and keeps me in the moment. Climbing has consumed my life from when I was really young (see video below), it has taken me to really cool places around the world. I have met so many cool people along the way and I couldn’t ask for anything better. If I didn’t climb, I have no clue what I’d be doing. Probably have a social life.

Proof that climbing makes Lucy happy: main photo from Lucy's first trad trip. In Reiff with the TCA youth squad 2016. You may also like Training at home and Get Roz fit.