Here are some of the secrets employed by boulderers to send hard problems in the Basin and beyond.
First try the climb as is, there is no use in wasting time cleaning/chalking if you can send the climb without doing so.
-New Problems: Clean all the required holds with an assortment of plastic bristled brushes and whack all dust of between
bouts. Do not do this in front of a D.O.C worker as brushing is banned in Kura Tawhiti Conservation Reserve.
Pay special attention to small dimples in the holds and where your palms will lie on slopers.
The holds will be in much better condition after one rain or, if you feel you need perfect cleanliness, wash the holds
yourself with water (a spray bottle or water pistol is great) and a toothbrush. Please be very careful to make the brushing as unobtrusive as possible.
Fade out all brushing with a light brush and a whacker, it should not be noticeable to the untrained eye.
-Established Problems: May also need serious lichen removal because of regrowth or alternative sequences.
Once all the holds are lichen free attempt again. No luck, no worries. First rub chalk into the offending hand holds,
brush in with a light toothbrush and then whack thoroughly. All foot holds should be perfectly clean - NO CHALK.
You may feel chalk is helpful but I assure you it is purely psychological, chalk makes foot holds slicker than
soap in no time and polishes them for future users. Feet still slipping off? Wash then with water (a water gun is great) and a toothbrush and
wait for then to dry. Oh yes. Please remember to remove tick marks and chalk when finished.
Still no luck?
Cold, windy and low humidity are the perfect Castle Hill days. Over summer go out to the Hill on overcast days or wait
for the sun to go down to send your project. Need to send now? Then shade that key sloper with a backpack or spare crash mat.
In winter it will be very cold, shady walls will only dry out on very windy days.
Even though the best friction is in cold conditions your hands need to be warm. So warm up thoroughly and wear gloves in
Clean your shoes with a brush or spit shine. Make sure you wear the most suitable shoes. I have and a hard edging and a
smearing shoe. Most problems require the smearing shoes as for most edges it is better to drop the heel
(sometimes called smedging).
Give your hands a nice even coating of chalk, do not forget your palms. If you think it necessary to chalk on route then
rub chalk in to your pant legs or t-shirt so as not to waste time/energy.
I have never met a climber who climbs well angry. Sure you may get angry when you fall off, so let it out as quietly as
possible then calm down and focus on what you need to do. Rest appropriately. Breath, relax, clear your mind and send.
Footholds at Castle Hill are notoriously bad so keep your eyes open for the 'secret foothold'. Often the obvious
footholds are polished or just in the wrong place for you. Try to find a smear in the place that makes sense
position-wise for the move, run your hand over the rock searching for the most featured areas for feet.
Almost every time out there I find a slightly easier sequence for some problem I have climbed heaps before -
and on most occasions it is foot work that makes the difference. Prepare the smears if necessary and try all the
options and do not forget the trailing foot. In a diagonal/rock over move often the trailing/flagging foot is
better off well placed on a smear. This foot should be at full extension when you reach the desired hold.
Some people always try to lock it down and others always try to throw. Knowing when to do which is no science and only
experience will help you. But if one does not work try the other.
Need to lock down hard? Make your set up perfect and keep as relaxed as possible then puff your cheeks and tense every
appropriate muscle. Then reach. If you are crimping make sure your thumb is wrapped over your index finger and as much
pressure as possible is going though each finger. Remember these moves are all about tension, between your locking hand
and your feet. 'Give it all you got Chris'.
Dynoing is an art with so many techniques and personal intricacies you will have to learn and develop. But in general
when you need to thrown again relax, breath in deep then launch, exhaling as you fly. Do not let the possibility of
falling enter your mind. You will catch the hold. Remember to give it full contact, no half assed slapping.
Why? Before you attempt a problem you must decide weather you are prepared to fall off it. If not do not even try it.
In deciding weather you are prepared to fall off consider what crash mats you will need and their placement, or spotters.
If it is truly highball then spotters are a bad idea as they will likely get more hurt than yourself.
Look at the problem and decide on the moves where you would not walk away from a fall then decide on the probability of
falling off these moves. If you do not accept this probability then walk away, else accept it and forget about falling.
Do not let it enter your mind as you climb.
The forthcoming tactics are considered cheating by some and necessary by others. Let your conscience decide.
Weight off is a tactic not really that applicable in the Basin but still has its uses. Have a spotter take some of your
weight as you try a move. A variation on this for typical Castle Hill smears is to hold a climbers shoe in place to help
learn to use the foot hold.
Use you friend as a step ladder to check out holds or to try moves higher up on problems.
For hard to see holds use tick marks but be sure to remove them afterwards. Or have a friend point to the hold.
If they get bored a little flag made of finger tape can show the way.
The most dubious tactic is top roping boulder problems. No need to explain here. This method is used by some not
because of the height of a problem but to work out the perfect beta and get a quick ascent. Defiantly the easy way to go,
which is what we are after right?
Just make sure you are honest and tell people of your methods, you do not have to wait until you are asked.
Some dude once said a boulder problem is not worth climbing if it takes me less than fifty attempts.
He has a good point, it is the process we enjoy as well as the result.
Forget about trying to flash problems (you can not onsight boulder problems!). Who has the better ascent,
the person with perfect video beta of a climber the same size or the person who walks up to some problem and spends
a few minutes working it out then sends?
If you keep asking for beta from others you will come to rely on it. I say go for a balance. Just walk up to some problems
and give it a bash, trust yourself to work it out. Even If you sit down and watch others on a problem then go for the
flash you may need to improvise.
Do not be a trained monkey, just climb like a monkey.
By Derek Thatcher