If you follow the sport of climbing in any way, it is safe to assume that you have come across blog posts, articles, and magazine spreads written about professional climbers and their unbelievable achievements. These athletes are pushing climbing into places where people would have never thought possible. Kevin Jorgeson, an athlete who is best known for his Bishop high balls and the Dawn Wall project, recognized the value these athletes have on climbing. His goal was to bring this community of talented athletes together to inspire the next generation of climbers as well as educate them on the need to protect our climbing areas.
It is through Kevin’s vision, Pro Climbers International (PCI) was created. Through PCI, pro climbers from all over the states teach weekend long clinics hosted at various gyms to inspire the community of climbers and share the techniques and insights that they themselves have mastered so well.
The first weekend in December, Planet Granite Sunnyvale hosted their first PCI Clinic. Imagine having the opportunity to climb and gain insight about your climbing ability from professional climbers such as Daniel Woods, Alex Johnson and Kevin Jorgeson! Since PG Sunnyvale has a large competitive climbing team, Kevin arranged the clinics so that Saturday would focus on comp climbing, and our team kids quickly signed up.
As a coach for the PG Sunnyvale Climbing team, I was able stand back and watch our younger climbers learning tips, techniques and gain valuable nuggets of wisdom about their climbing from the pros. This wonderful new way of giving back to the sport of climbing is expressed in how the PCI clinics are performed. Not only are they helping foster the training of these young athletes, but they do so positively and effectively!
A typical PCI clinic will run over a weekend and is filled with performance clinics, product demos, poster signings and slideshows. The clinics were broken up into three different groups, each with a different instructor. Each group would go to a new station every half hour, where a different athlete was running each station
At Kevin’s station, the youth learned to really focus on confidence, intensity and breathing. He demonstrated how to ramp up your intensity level through breathing. In short, speed up your breathing on harder moves and breathe slower on easier moves. He pointed out,“One of the most powerful regulators of focus, determination and effort is your breath. Practice using your breath to ramp up your intensity or bring it back down. Make your breath audible. It will help you remember to breathe and recognize the type of breathing you are doing.”
He also discussed how a confidence level will boost your climbing and how posture helps that aspect immensely. “Sometimes you don’t wake up and feel confident,” says Kevin. “This doesn’t have to effect your entire day, or competition. There are ways to induce confidence.” He told us to be aware of our posture, facial expression, breathing and thoughts. “Square up to the wall, chalk your hands, relax your face, breathe deep and visualize success.”
On Sunday, young guns Nate Linden, Mirko Caballero and others were able to take part in a finger strength and campus/power workout with Daniel Woods. Daniel Woods worked with the kids on doing specific training on the campus board and training lock-off strength through campusing. Kevin Jorgeson also spoke with the climbers about deadpoints and proper deadpointing technique, which they practiced on the system board. Mirko, along with other kids, learned some helpful skills from Alex Johnson about proper body positioning and to resist the urge to power through moves by locking off on holds. She helped him learn how to consciously stay low and on his feet.
When I asked Kevin about some information regarding the clinic, he informed me that, “Every climber is looking for something different at a PCI clinic and will connect with a certain aspect of our curriculum. I notice a lot of ‘ah-ha’ moments when it comes to technique, because the result is so instantaneous. Someone will go from not sticking a move, to doing it with ease. Using video analysis, we are able to discuss the element of the movement, make suggestions and observe the result.”
On the Sunday clinic, they did video analysis of climbers which allowed them to see what they are doing with their body while climbing. This creative approach to looking at climbing is really exciting! Kevin went on to talk about technique saying, “Our approach to technique is not of ‘this is right, that is wrong.” Rather, we explore the concepts that apply to all climbers of all abilities. We suggest ‘edits’ in their execution, instead of telling someone how to do a move.”
Overall it was a great opportunity and learning experience for everyone that participated! Climbers that took part in the clinic walked away with smiles on their faces and new valuable tips, which can be directly applied to their climbing.
To learn more about PCI Clinics, please check out their website!
Photos and article by Zach Shull (except as noted). In addition to coaching on the Planet Granite climbing team, Zach also works the front desk and teaches climbing classes. He is a junior at an online college and studying marketing. When he is not climbing you are sure to find him either training, surfing, or skiing in the winter. He is currently working on developing himself as a climber and now trying to focus on bigger multi-pitch routes.