Training for Special Techniques in Mixed & Ice Climbing

Training For Ice and Mixed Climbing Series brought to you by Furnace Industries continues with part 6 of our series – Training for Special Techniques.

This post is part of an 8 part series on Training For Ice Climbing and Mixed Climbing:

NOTE: These workouts are intended for the fitness-minded climber.  It’s up to you to manage your time and expectations. You may not initially be able to achieve the workout as described.  Just working towards that goal will do wonders to get you ready for ice season.

You’re doing:

Foundation with Fortification- 3x / week

Harder Core – 3x / week

Endurance – 3x / week

There are moves that are specific to every climbing discipline. Ice Climbing and Mixed Climbing are no exception. Let’s get ready for them. For maximum indoor training benefit, use a pair of dry ice tools since the handles are designed to be used without gloves.

Of course, like most things in climbing there is a small controversy about using the fig 4 or fig 9. The core of the argument is that, like the now much reviled heel spur, the maneuvers make the climb too easy, are technically repetitive, and that nobody does these moves in the mountains.  All those reasons hold water, but the one that may be most relevant is that these moves can be extremely destructive to a climber’s shoulders.  If you want to climb for a long time, limit your use of these moves.

Special Techniques Workout 2x / Week

Figure 4

The idea with the Figure 4 is to use your own body to leverage your reach even further. The move becomes necessary when getting your feet on severely overhanging terrain becomes an inefficient use of energy.

There is really only one way to prepare for this awkward maneuver, and that’s to do it.

Find a solid place to hang from with the dry ice tools and use a spotter, bring your legs up, wrap your left leg over your right lower arm / wrist, extend your left leg, and get into a Fig 4.  The closer to your wrist, the further you can reach.  Unwind, drop your legs without touching the ground, repeat on the other arm with opposite leg.

Continue for 10x. Rest. Do it again. 3 sets.

Figure 9 – 10x, 3 sets

These are essentially the same move, but instead of wrapping your leg over the opposite arm/wrist, wrap it over the same arm/wrist, i.e. left leg to left arm. Remember, the closer you can get the back of your knee to your wrist, the more effective the maneuver.

Continue for 10x. Rest. Do it again. 3 sets.

Marianne Van der Steen Doing a Figure 9 – Photo by Gaetan Raymond

Fig 4 to Fig 9 – 10x, 3 sets

Building on the two previous exercises, this puts the two together as is sometimes necessary when traversing through a roof section. From a series produced by world-class climber Gaetan Raymond, the technique Looks like this (beware, they’re French):

In a workout, hang from your DRY ICE Tools, get into a Fig 4, flip your leg over into a Fig 9, unwind and lower leg, repeat with the opposite side

Continue for 10x. Rest. Do it again. 3 sets.

The sequence looks like this:

Figure 4 to Figure 4

One Armed Rows

Why? To get ready for those inevitable and ridiculous long reaches need to get to the good placement when coming out from under an overhang.

Place a DRY ICE Tool on a hold, feet on holds low on the wall. The steeper the wall, the better the better the workout. Reach as high as you possibly can with opposite tool, Lower down slowly. Repeat. Extra points if you add weight to the reaching tool.

Continue to reach as far as you can and lower down slowly, 10 reps, 3 sets

Hanging Sit Ups

(Yes the upside down ones.)

Why? To get comfortable being upside down and using abs to get to the next placement.

While you need some specialized equipment and a spotter for this, if you have access both, you are in for a treat. Using an Inversion Table, Hang Up Gravity Boots, or if you just your gym’s Ab Bench, get into position and work those abs.

If you don’t have access to that equipment, using your gym’s Ab Bench on it’s highest setting will suffice.

Do not just say ‘F-that, no way’. Just try it, even if you do just one, or even ½ of one.  Work up to these.  When you can knock out 10-12, a whole world of sick, overhanging mixed routes will open up to you.

In our next post we will dive into the Head game. Lay a strong base line and continue with your foundation workout now to be prepared for the challenges ahead – Part 7 of this training for ice climbing series will come out next week!

Check out the other parts of this series:
Part 1 – Build a Solid Foundation
Part 2 – Fortification
Part 3 – Basic Core
Part 4 – Hard Core
Part 5 – Endurance
Part 6 – Special Techniques
Part 7 – Mental Training & Head Games
Part 8 – It’s Time to Climb

Does your climbing gym not allow picked ice tools in their facility?

Pick up a pair of gym safe Dry Ice Tools for training inside the climbing gym

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