Interesting evening of climbing last night. By the way it started, I figured I might be done after two climbs. I started out leading a 5.8 and a 5.10-, and just felt really awkward/hesitant/rusty on the wall. The “problem nerve” in my right foot wasn’t really happy after the first climb, which makes me suspect that my footwork wasn’t great, either. It just had all the makings of an “off” day. However, as I warmed up, my climbing improved significantly, and after climbing my third route, I felt much more confident. I ended up leading 5 routes and top-roping 1. I even climbed on the lead wall for only the second time ever. I think the moral of the story is that I need to spend a little bit more time warming up before jumping into climbing. I used to be pretty good about it, but lately, I’ve been falling off, partly just due to timing of when I get to the gym, when my climbing friends arrive, etc. When I’m rushed or on a tight schedule, the temptation is high to skip warm-ups and just jump right into climbing.
I have found that I really like climbing lead on overhung routes. Part of that has come out of improvements in my technique, as I’m able to do it without killing my forearms now. Also, for some reason, the fear of falling doesn’t seem quite as intense. It might be because the routes are more physically challenging, and take more concentration, which leaves fewer brain cells to think about falling. Also, I think there’s less risk of injury from falls on overhangs vs vertical/slabby routes, as you’re falling into space, and there are no holds, volumes, walls, etc. to potentially hit on the way down. Lastly, overhung routes put less stress on the feet than slabs, because the weight is distributed to different parts of the body. In fact, I occasionally find it challenging to keep my feet from falling off the wall. I think the trick there is to engage the core muscles to keep the hips close to the wall, something I probably need to improve at. Footwork (e.g. heel hooks vs toe hooks) and shoe choice also likely play a role.