Show me the ropes.

How to transition from bouldering to sport climbing 🙂

So I currently have a finger injury (right ring finger A2 pulley 😦 ), and I have tried to rehab it while still getting outside bouldering on the weekends, but have realized that my finger has not seen any improvement since I got it in the beginning of April :/ I have decided to give up bouldering for a while and focus on finger rehab with hangboarding and route climbing. Since I have stopped bouldering a couple weeks ago, I have already seen some improvement in my finger!

I have been a dedicated boulderer since I started climbing in 2011, and I have probably only been outside on ropes a handful of times since then. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that historically I am a terrible route climber!! I have always struggled with endurance, so whenever I have tried sport climbing, I just ended up getting pumped out of my mind and getting shutdown on things that are far beneath my limit, strength-wise at least.

Recently, due mainly to the fact that I can’t boulder at the moment, I have been inspired to give route climbing a try, and I have actually been pleasantly surprised by how much I am enjoying myself! Am I good at it? Not particularly, but it has actually been a pretty liberating experience! With bouldering, I always have really high expectations for myself and my performance, but with route climbing I don’t have any of those expectations. I feel like I am getting to experience the joys that come with being a beginner climber and seeing that quick improvement, but compounded with feeling confident in my strength and skill as a seasoned climber.


Lay of the Land
Me milking the rests on Lay of the Land (5.12a) at Little Si


So far I have just been climbing routes once or twice a week in the gym, and then last weekend I was able to get out to Little Si and climb outside on ropes for the first time since 2015! I have been pleasantly surprised to find out that I don’t feel much fear lead climbing or taking falls, which is different from previous experiences with route climbing. I attribute this to just being a more confident climber than I was in the past. Not sure how long this bout of route climbing will last, but I’m pretty excited at the moment to just be trying something different, and also grateful that I’m able to climb anything while still rehabbing my finger…

Here are a few things I have noticed since I switched to routes:

  • It’s true what they say, endurance comes pretty quickly. Though I definitely still get pumped pretty easily and endurance is for sure not a strength of mine, I have seen improvement in a very short time 🙂
  • The mental side of route climbing is a really cool new challenge for me! Completely different from the mental side of bouldering.
  • It’s weird to not be having to put in my full physical effort (basically “pull as hard as you can”) while sport climbing, totally different from bouldering! Maybe I’ll feel this more as I move up the grades, but for now it feels pretty refreshing to focus more on efficiency and trying to save that energy while I climb, vs. trying my absolute hardest on just a few moves.
  • I definitely have to check my ego at the door. While I generally feel pretty strong and confident while I am bouldering, as a route climber I am pretty sub-par! Part of the challenge for me is to not care that I am projecting things that theoretically should be my warm-ups, and focus on just having fun and enjoying the new challenges!

Cover photo by Truc Allen

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