Working on weaknesses to push the limit once more

In this blog multi-time World Champion Ice Climber Angelika Rainer writes about how she has been able to switch displines in order to work on her weaknesses and push her limits once more.

People who know me will know me as an Ice climber. However over the past few years Mixed climbing and Dry tooling have been the climbing disciplines I have focused on most and tried to become better and better, always pushing my limits a bit further.

Just to introduce those disciplines to those who are not familiar:

Mixed climbing involves climbing with ice axes and crampons alternating on ice and rock

Dry tooling means that there is no ice – only rock.

Initially Dry tooling was for me only a way of training for the Ice climbing competitions but then I started to like this way of climbing as a discipline itself and with this there came the motivation to improve.

Over the last few years I travelled to many different places, some as far as Canada and Colorado, to try and climb some of the Worlds hardest Dry Tooling routes.

With the increasing grades, the routes tend to become longer and steeper and so request more endurance but also single moves get harder, especially longer. For me at an average height lady with quite short arms, many of these moves are on my limit.

Not only in the outdoors but also in competitions these moves got longer and longer and so this season I had to focus during my training on the technique of solving long reaches.

I consider myself as a quite ‘conservative’ climber and don’t like to change my style of climbing and so adopting this new technique cost me a lot of sweat and especially mental convincement.

Mental convincement because I must admit that the sentence ‘I’m not able to do this’ comes out of my mouth too easily. At the same time I know that I can do it if I try hard, first in training and then during a climb on a project. You can only get better if you work on your weaknesses.

The proof of this came with my recent sent of the route ‘French connection’.

This Dry tooling route is situated in the Dry tooling cave called ‘Tomorrows World’ in the Dolomites and graded D15-. Considering that the Grades in Dry tooling at the moment finish with D15 I reached a big goal by climbing this route.

I had already tried the routes at Tomorrows world last season together with the British climber Tom Ballard who has bolted and claimed the first ascent of all routes, but then I struggled with some of the longest moves.

When I came back this February after finishing the Ice climbing World Cup season in 2nd place and getting 2nd also at the World Championships, I immediately saw that the specific training had paid off.

I was able to climb the D14 ‘Oblivion’ the first day and ‘French connection’ followed after two more days. Clipping the ancor of a route that at the first try had seemed nearly impossible is always a big satisfaction.

I hope my story can become inspiration for others to try something new and maybe focus on a ‘weaker’ activity just to see what you can achieve.

(Pictures by Jonathan White and Marco Servalli)