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TBP 087 :: Paige Claassen Spells Out How To Successfully Project A Route 2017-09-26T12:00:21+00:00

Project Description

Date: September 6th, 2017

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About Paige Claassen

I’m currently on a climbing trip in Flatanger, Norway with my husband and our good friend, Paige Claassen (yay!). Paige is a super strong climber who’s sent up to 5.14c while climbing all over the world. She established herself as a successful competition climber in her earlier years, then as a world-class outdoor sport climber, and then as a bold trad climber (up to 5.13c). See her full resume here.

Paige excels at picking a route at an area and sieging it until she has sent it. During her Lead Now trip, she went to 9 countries in 9 months with the goal of sending a 5.14 in each country and only failed to do so in a couple countries due to weather and other circumstances. The woman knows how to project, so in this episode I wanted to give her a platform to educate us about how we too can successfully siege a route.

This is my second interview with her during my 3-week trip, and hopefully we’ll get one more episode in before I leave, and hopefully she’ll have sent her project by then! The first interview was about her training and preparation for this trip.

Paige’s Project, Odin’s Eye

paige claassen odin's eye

Paige Claassen entering the eye of Odin

The route that Paige wants to do is a super steep climb called Odin’s Eye, which is just down the hill from Adam Ondra’s Project Hard 9c / 5.15d, which he just sent (congrats, Adam!).

Here are Ethan Pringle, Dani Andrada, and Magnus Mitdbo vying for the FA of Odin’s Eye.

Paige Training for Flatanger

This is the kind of specific training Paige did back at home in South Africa for the overhanging climbing in Flatanger. You can hear more about her training on our first podcast episode of this trip here. 

Paige Claassen Flatanger Interview Details

Having watched Paige these first 2 weeks on her project, it’s been inspirational and educational for me to see her process on a route at her max ability. She’s patient with the process and very methodical, both of which are qualities a lot of people lack on their own projects.

I think this interview is one of my most informative and useful episodes. You can get really strong by training, but if you don’t know how to project a route, it doesn’t matter how strong you are: you’ll likely fail if you don’t have a method to the madness. Paige spells it all out for you in this interview. 

Here’s what we talked about:

  • Why she’s unusually psyched to climb on Odin’s Eye
  • Daily goal-setting on the project
  • Rest and recovery tools
  • How much rest she takes between climbing days
  • How much rest between burns
  • How to efficiently dial each crux
  • Why it’s ok to take years on a project
  • When to know you should give up
  • How she feeds herself on climbing and rest days

Paige Claassen Links

Help School Kids in Southern Africa

If you want to help provide school supplies and clothing to impoverished school kids in South Africa, please consider pledging your birthday to Paige’s non-profit, Southern Africa Education Fund.

100% of donations to Southern Africa Education Fund (all tax deductible) go directly toward kids in Namibia whose families can’t afford their school necessities. Every $100 donated provides one child with a new backpack, school uniform and shoes, and school supplies.

–>>You can pledge your own birthday at www.saeducationfund.org/birthdays

la sportiva paige claassen

Training Programs for You

Do you want a well-laid-out, easy-to-follow training program that will get you stronger quickly? Here’s what we have to offer on TrainingBeta. Something for everyone…

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Please Review The Podcast on iTunes

Please give the podcast an honest review on iTunes here to help the show reach more curious climbers around the world.

Transcript

Neely Quinn: Welcome to the TrainingBeta Podcast, where I talk with climbers and trainers about how we can get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and I’m coming at you again from Flatanger, Norway. We are actually in the town of Lauvsness, and we have been climbing in the Flatanger area, which was made famous by Adam Ondra a few years ago, and then again the other day, when he sent the world’s first 5.15d or 9c, which was super impressive. We didn’t actually get to see him send, we took a rest day that day unfortunately, but we did get to see him climbing on it. It was very different that anything I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen anyone climb a crack in a roof upside down with as much tenacity as Adam did. I have an interview with him tomorrow about his training, which was very specific. I talked to him a little bit about it, and his process, so stay tuned for that.

But as for the rest of us, I’m here with Paige Claassen and my husband Seth Lytton, and me. We’ve been climbing a bunch here and we are loving it. This granite is beautiful and tall, and vast, and it has beautiful views behind it. I have been doing okay- my shoulder is holding up well. When I first got here it was kind of crappy, and then it seems like climbing on real rock and doing these long, you know, not super cruxy routes has helped it. I got to do my first 5.12a since surgery the other day, which is 7a+. It was like a ninety or a hundred foot route, it was beautiful. Then Seth just did a 5.13d on his third go, and that was the first pitch of his project which is called Nordic Flower, which is a 5.14a or 8b+. It goes up the roof, the same roof that Adam has been climbing on. It’s been really cool to watch tons of kneebars, very gymnastic. If you ever have the chance to come here, I’d just highly recommend it. It’s blustery and cold a grey and rainy a lot, and then approach up here is muddy and crappy, but it’s totally worth it. It’s not like anything I’ve ever experienced in my life and I’m so grateful I’m here.

So, Paige is the reason that I am here, and she has been projecting this route called Odin’s Eye. It’s 5.14c, or 8c+. It goes up the roof, and it goes through this feature that looks like a huge eye. I’ll put a photo of it on the show notes. It’s really impressive, and it’s very off character for Paige, because normally she climbs on vertical or just off vertical stuff- she is a very technical climber. She had to do some very specific training to prepare for Flatanger, and that’s also a video that I have in the show notes if you want to see the kind of stuff that she has been doing. But watching her process of projecting has been extremely interesting, illuminating, educational, and sort of even grounding for me, because she is super methodical in the way that she goes about projecting. She’s patient, she’s calm, she puts a lot of thought into things. She is very efficient, she doesn’t waste time, she doesn’t waste energy, and because of that she has made quick progress on this project. She’s gotten through the first two of four cruxes and she has done all of the moves and it’s definitely possible for her to do this, now she’s just got to put it together.

I think that this interview is really important for a lot of people, because you can get strong. You can get really strong by listening to these podcasts, by reading all about training, and training. But it doesn’t really matter if you go out there and you have a route and you don’t know how to project- you don’t know what to do. Hopefully she can shed some light on that and help you guys send your own projects, and yeah. So without further ado, here is Paige Claassen. Enjoy.

Neely Quinn: Welcome back to the show Paige, thanks for being with me in this second interview in Norway.

Paige Claassen: Yeah well, it took me a lot of effort to get out of my bed and to the podcasting table. Like five meters from where I’m sleeping, so,you’re welcome. I put the effort in.

Neely Quinn: Thanks, thanks. So today we are going to talk about your process of projecting, but before we get into that, tell me a little bit more about your thoughts on Norway and the climbing in Flatanger.

Paige Claassen: I’ve never had so much fun climbing in my life. I’ve always loved projecting and that’s what I focus on no matter where I am. I get sucked into a project and that’s what gets me psyched. But there’s always an edge of hesitation in the morning to go out climbing- I don’t really know how to describe it, but it’s like a nervous feeling. Like I’m a little it intimidated, and also standing below a route sometimes. To just be like “Oh man, to go up there and battle for the next whatever it is, hour, hour and a half”, feels intimidated. But here, every morning I wake up and I’m like, “Yes, we get to go climbing today”. I’ve really never felt that deep sense of excitement to go rock climbing, which sounds kind of crazy, because that’s what I do, but I just love it here. It’s so much fun. Every time we are up at the cliff and we get to do another pitch, I just stand below and I can’t wait to get up on the wall, and that’s not normal for me.

Neely Quinn: It’s not, and it is interesting, because as a professional climber, you would think that you just can’t wait to get out there.

Paige Claassen: Yeah, which you are always excited, but it comes with a bit of anxiety, or some anticipation for the negative parts of the day as well. Like, you know there is going to be some frustration, or whatever you’re battling with, however small it is, it creates these little feelings of doubt in you. But here, I mean, that doubt still exists, it’s not like I’m feeling overly confident on everything, but it’s just so much fun. And I find the climbing here very accessible. The holds are really friendly- my skin is thin, but it doesn’t tear your skin up. And it’s easy to work routes. It’s just not an intimidating area to climb, which is surprising to me, because I thought it wold be intimidating, given the steepness of the cliff. So that was quite a surprise.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, so when we first walked up to the cliff, and because you’re mostly- you in the past have mostly done very vertical or maybe slightly overhung, or even slabby climbs. So when we first walked up to Odin’s Eye, which is a roof climb, how did you feel?

Paige Claassen: I was actually surprised, it’s not a steep as I expected. I thought all the climbing here would be in the super steep cave, out a horizontal roof. So I was expecting that, and then we walked up and it turns out there is this huge- you could call it a vertical wall, but it’s actually very steep- on the whole left side of the cliff. Odin’s Eye is kind of in the middle, between the outer cave and then the steep part. But the climb actually traverses these faces almost. It is very steep- when you lower you are way far away from where you started, but there are sections that climb in more of a face-y style, oddly enough. So I think that is comforting.

Neely Quinn: Yeah it lends itself to your style, for sure.

Paige Claassen: Yeah, parts of it do. Parts of it definitely do not, but I’m not just climbing out this horizontal roof, which I am relieved about. I was going to try anyway, but [laughs], me just climbing out a horizontal roof was not going to go very well.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, and then the first time you got on it, what did you think?

Paige Claassen: The first time I got on, it was a really warm day, really still out, and all the holds felt like butter. But, I could understand how in better conditions it could feel possible, so I was really excited about the moves. It’s beautiful, it has some crazy features that are pretty unique. I felt confident the first day, and excited to get back on in better conditions. The second day the conditions were way better, everything felt super sticky, and I was like “Awesome, now I’m really psyched”. Subsequent days, you start to add in expectations, you want to see progress. I’ve been making that progress, but it definitely goes in waves of a normal project, where you have this mix of excitement and small rewards as you figure things out, but also intimidation as you understand how hard those moves are really going to be for you, especially on the go. So there is definitely a mix.

Neely Quinn: So the difficulty level of this climb compared to say, your other hardest projects. How does it compare?

Paige Claassen: Um, I would say it’s kind of similar, honestly. To spend a lot of time on a project, I want to be able to do all or most of the moves within the first couple of days I try it. At least within the first week. Because I know how hard it’s going to be to link the sections together, so if I can at least do the individual moves within the first week, it feels possible to link them together in a given amount of time.

Neely Quinn: Actually I’m going to stop you there, because I think it’s interesting. I think a lot of people go to crags and are like, if I can’t do these moves then I can’t do the route. But you’re saying within the first week if you can do them- which if you are getting on it two times a day, four days a week, that’s eight goes before you maybe even do all of the moves on the route, is that right?

Paige Claassen: That’s right. And that’s pretty typical of a lot of routes I work on- I normally don’t do all the moves the first go. The first go or the first few goes up a route that’s really at your limit, your spending so much energy even getting through the easy sections, so by the time you get to the upper cruxes, you’re so destroyed. You’re so much more tired than you would be, even on the go. So you have to remember that too, that when you are working a crux that’s high off the ground and you are exhausted and you can’t imagine doing that sequence after having climbed the whole route without stopping, remember that you’ve just done all those moves maybe two to five times each as you are working through those sections, so you’ve actually done so much more climbing than you would on the actual go. I try to keep that in my mind when I get intimidated as well.

Neely Quinn: So do you feel prepared for this?

Paige Claassen: I do. I feel as prepared as I could be. Having little notice of coming here since we decided to come here like five weeks before we arrived, that’s not a lot of time to train. Although it is kind of typical of climbers, because we do tend to choose things kind of last minute, or at least start our preparations too late, which is a big fault in our sport I think. We prepare for things like a month or maybe two in advance, rather than six months in advance, or a year in advance, which would be more common in other sports. But given the time I had, I do feel prepared. I feel like the exercises and training I did really helped, because I know how I would perform on this style in other circumstances, and it would not be good.

There is definitely a lot I wish I’d done, or would have known about earlier. I would have done a lot of bicep curls, and honestly leg presses [laughs]. My legs get so tired here. There’s one crux toe hook move for me, and I can just feel how weak my thigh is. To have done leg presses and bicep curls I think would have really helped [laughs]. But other than that, I feel good. I’m psyched with the preparation I did, and I think I did the best that I could have.

Neely Quinn: What other routes do you think prepared you for this route?

Paige Claassen: I’m not sure any routes did prepare me for this. I’ve climbed a few lines that have some similarities. There was a route I worked in Russia during Lead Now that I did not end up doing, but there was some really hard undercling moves on that that were quite similar to the crux of Odin’s Eye. I keep reminding myself that I have done really hard undercling bicep moves before, this isn’t totally new- I can do this. Then there is a route I worked on in South Africa last year that was pretty thuggy. A lot of compression and big moves on holds that feel a bit slippery, rather than just crimping on straight down edges all the time, which is what I am actually good at. So I feel like I’ve had some preparation over the years, but this route is very different and it’s definitely presenting some different challenges.

Neely Quinn: Right. Why do your legs get tired?

Paige Claassen: I think when you are doing some of those undercling moves on a steep wall, you are having to push so hard with your legs. Especially for me, because my biceps aren’t up to the challenge. I really need to use my legs as much as I can, because I just don’t have that brute upper body strength.

Neely Quinn: Right- so what she is describing right now is the top of the “eye”- which I an put picture of it in the episode notes. But the top of the eye has like- it’s super overhung. It’s almost a full on roof up there it seems like.

Paige Claassen: Yeah I think the eye is maybe like- I don’t even know. Maybe forty five degrees?

Neely Quinn: It seems like a little bit more, but- because you’re basically-

Paige Claassen: Yeah it’s hard to tell.

Neely Quinn: But it’s this undercling rail- and is it slopey? Is it juggy?

Paige Claassen: Part of it. You kind of traverse through these sloppy underclings, but ultimately you get to what is a quite a good undercling, but your feet are really smeary, and then the holds you are going to aren’t great, and they’re pretty spread out. So you’re really having to push hard on smears, and kneebarring, which I am not good at at all. I avoid kneebars at all costs, and on this route I really need the one kneebar. I think it’s just really aggressive on your legs when you are having to push this hard. I think I’ve learned over the years from the first really hard route I tried years ago, that you have to push so hard with your feet. As climbers, we are so tempted to just pull harder, and that’s not the best solution. So I’m psyched that that’s naturally coming in, since my legs are sore I’m obviously pushing with my feet, so that’s a good sign.

Neely Quinn: So what is your overall attitude toward projecting, and why do you like this so much? A lot of people like to just go out and onsight, or do things second try, and that’s fun for them. But this is fun for you- this is a battle, and it’s not that fun.

Paige Claassen: I don’t know why I like it. I wish I could just go out and have fun doing a bunch of easier pitches, whatever that means. Pitches within my ability level. And just go and enjoy an area for all the climbing that it has. But for me, until I get sucked into a single project, I’m not really having the time of my life [laughs]. And it’s not that the process is always fun. It normally involves a lot of frustration, but I think it’s the possibility of doing something that challenges you to this extreme level, and knowing also that you might not do it. Having that uncertainty brings some excitement. But I just love the process, as frustrating as it can be, as unpleasant as it can be, to feel moves that you maybe can’t do, or can’t conceive how you would do them, or you can’t understand how you would ever link them together, and then slowly it comes together, and these little parts start to click- it’s just so cool at the end of the day to be like “Oh man, I unlocked this sequence”, or “I linked five moves together that before I couldn’t do at all”.

Neely Quinn: Mhm.

Paige Claassen: So, I think the uncertainty and just the challenge of something that maybe is possible, but you might not pull off in the end is cool.

Neely Quinn: So what do you get when you finally clip the chains?

Paige Claassen: Um, it’s probably not like the ultimate sense of elation that I am, or anyone would be hoping for [laughs]. I’m always super excited, but I think it’s more of a sense of relief. Like “Oh man, it came together, I’m relieved I didn’t have to get on the plane home without having completing that”. And I’ve done that before too, I’ve left projects behind that I know I’ll probably never be able to go back to. But I think I’m okay with that, as long as I’ve put in everything I have. If I know there was nothing left I could have tried or done to complete that project, that sense of satisfaction is still there in a way. But yeah, I think relief is the more appropriate description, more than excitement or happiness.

[laughter]

Which is maybe not so encouraging for those looking to get into projecting, but I don’t know. It’s also a cool feeling when you look back at some of the routes you’ve done, and you know that process and those doubts you had and it pays off in the end. So I think it becomes more rewarding over time.

Neely Quinn: I think that’s the hardest part about projecting, and I’ve talked a lot about this on the podcast with other people. You get to a point where maybe it’s ten tries in, it’s forty tries in, maybe it’s a hundred tries, and you start to get frustrated and you start to wonder like, should I stop? When should I give up?

Paige Claassen: Right.

Neely Quinn: So what is that point for you?

Paige Claassen: Um, I think the point is when you’re not enjoying it at all anymore. When there is no sense of fun. Then you need to stop, or at least take a break. I don’t think there is ever a point where you’ve been working on something for too long. If you are still enjoying it, then go for it. I mean, the longest thing I’ve worked was five years, and I definitely took a lot of breaks in the middle, it wasn’t five years consistently, but I still loved going to that place and getting on that climb, so it was still worth it to me.

If you’re just beating your head against the wall, day after day on the same thing, you’re also going to get a lot weaker. I’ve experienced that, where I get sucked into a project, I won’t climb on anything else because I’m preserving my skin, my muscles, everything for this one thing I care about, and then your body loses kind of those fine tuned capabilities that you trained it for. Suddenly you can do the moves on your project, if you get on anything else no matter how hard, you’re climbing horribly. So I’m trying to climb other routes as well. I said at least every other day we go out, I have to climb on something else besides my project and warm-ups.

Neely Quinn: What do you mean something? How hard should it be?

Paige Claassen: Mmm…

Neely Quinn: So your project is 14c or 8c+, what would make you continue to feel strong?

Paige Claassen: Like I should probably get on 8a’s or 13b’s and try and onsight them. And if I’m not onsighting them, at least I am trying really hard to onsight them.

Neely Quinn: Mhm.

Paige Claassen: Or to work like a 13c or something. Or even, I’ve played around with the idea, I haven’t committed to it yet, of having a second project. So working two routes at the same time, so you don’t get so emotionally invested in one thing, but I’ve never done that before. I’ve only ever worked one route at a time. I suppose it’s worked out for me, but maybe it would have worked out better if I had something else to focus on. But it’s so hard to take attention away from one thing that you really want to do, because you feel like you are just getting more tired or destroying your skin on the secondary thing, and that could be taking away from your project. So I don’t know, I’m not sure what the balance is there.

Neely Quinn: So some people would say- like Eric Horst has said- if you go to an area and you can’t do a project within- I can’t remember the number of tries, I think it was eight. Eight tries- you should go home, train, and then come back when you are stronger. What do you think about that?

Paige Claassen: I disagree, because that’s not how climbing works. Often you’re on a trip where that’s not possible. We all like to travel around, most of the time you are given, however long you have on a  trip, whether it’s ten days or a month, a weekend, whatever, and so you kind of have to choose something that is going to fit that time frame. I suppose if you are working something at home locally, maybe you can take that tactic. I’ve never applied that to my climbing, and I don’t force myself applying that, because I think there is so much you learn each time you go up a route. And eight tries is not really that many. I think I’ve already given Odin’s Eye eight tries, and I’m definitely keen to keep trying it every day we go out, and I’ll learn something every day, and I’ll keep getting stronger every day.

It definitely depends on you as a climber, and also the resources you have available. If you’re at a crag where you can climb on other things to build up or maintain that base, or maybe you have a little gym or fingerboard you can use, something where you aren’t just working that one route, that will help.

Neely Quinn: Well it’s interesting, because with you, watching you go through this process, basically you didn’t do all the moves until your fourth try on it, or something? Maybe even fifth?

Paige Claassen: Yeah.

Neely Quinn: Or was it…?

Paige Claassen: Was it my fourth day on it?

Neely Quinn: If you were to say “Oh, I’ve tried this ten times and I haven’t done it, I should just stop trying it”- that would never work for this.

Paige Claassen: And I think it also depends. If something is absolutely at your limit, you’re not going to do all the moves. Your progress is going to be more spread out. I think that’s okay. It depends on so many things. It depends on how well prepared you are. If your goal is something that you are way under prepared for, then yeah you need to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to prepare for it. But if you are well prepared, it’s about unlocking sequences or minute body positions.

I think everyone underestimates how much mental capacity goes into projecting. We all hear that a lot, but to actually apply it. You fall off your project and your like “Ugh I’m not strong enough”. Either we aren’t strong enough, or the conditions aren’t right, or blah blah blah. But it’s almost always controlling your mind, or just learning minute body positions. That’s not a strength thing. You can be as well prepared as possible and at your peak strength, but not understand the body positions and you’re not going to get anywhere. That is where for me, you really have to spend time on the route, learning those little subtleties. But that takes time, and you have to go through the process of hanging at the crux. Maybe your whole day’s goal is just to sit at one bolt and figure out a series of three moves. So yeah. I think you really have to tailor your process to the route you’re working on.

Neely Quinn: Yeah and your route happens to be really long, and it has- does it have four cruxes?

Paige Claassen: Four cruxes.

Neely Quinn: Four cruxes. Four distinct cruxes. So you are basically doing one boulder problem, then it’s a little bit easier, then another boulder problem, and you can rest between these boulders. Your process is different than I think a lot of peoples, in that sometimes you will jug up through a couple, well at least one crux, just make your way through another crux, just so you can save all your energy for the next crux.

Paige Claassen: So when you are working something that’s really hard for you, and the crux is halfway up the route or at the top of the route, by the time you get up there you are going to be completely destroyed. So depending on your objective, if you are just trying to figure our your way through a crux, you kind of need to get up there fresh, or at least not having battled and repeated move after move on the whole bottom of the route. So it depends how close the draws are together and if you can pull through sections, or if you can climb a few moves and then pull past harder moves that preserve your skin but also your muscles. That can allow you to work cruxes more easily.

For me, on this route it’s really easy to pull through the first crux which is a little boulder problem right off the ground. Then you have to climb for five bolts, but it’s pretty easy. Then there is the second crux, which is just one move that’s a big span- that doesn’t really take much, you know? I’m not wasting myself on that move. I have to do that move to get through the next section, then traverse some more jugs, and then I’m at the third crux, and that’s really what I need to work on now, because that’s the hardest section for me. So I can get up there fairly fresh, having just done some easier moves on the bottom section to get up there. Then I can hang at that draw, go indirect with a quickdraw so your belayer isn’t just suffering down there, and sit there and stare at the wall and try to find new footholds or something you have missed before.

Often we also get sucked into using someone else’s beta, because it’s worked for someone else, so like, okay this is the way. But I actually hate receiving beta on routes, because it almost never works. We all have such different body types, and what works for someone else isn’t going to work for me. Whether it’s that you have different heights, different strengths, different capabilities. All the movies I’ve watched for Odin’s Eye, I’m not doing the first crux the same as anyone I’ve seen. The third crux, also different from anything I’ve seen in the videos online. That’s because I’m not as physically strong as those people who have done this route. At least, in the videos I’ve seen. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible for me, it just means I need to figure out something that works for my style. And I figured that out the other day- I finally figured out the third crux, and that was the last two moves I needed to do to have done all the moves on the route.

Neely Quinn: Yeah and you kind of did it in a combination of how other people have done it.

Paige Claassen: Yeah I mean it’s the same general way, but to do the first of the two moves I use a kneebar instead of just powering up to it. Again, it’s a subtle difference. Then the foot is a bit too low for me, so I have to use another hand that is further away, and then bump my foot up, and then bump my hand to the actual hold. It’s the same general concept, but I had to use some work-arounds.

Neely Quinn: Another thing I think people neglect is resting while they are projecting something. So you’ll sit there- like yesterday you sat there. You clipped indirect so that Seth didn’t have to take your weight, and then you rested for maybe five minutes. When you think about it, you are basically limit bouldering up there, I mean in a way, maybe sometimes, so you need the rest. And when you don’t, then you aren’t going to be able to do the moves.

Paige Claassen: No, totally. You think of route climbing as something that you do all these moves together, but when you are working a project, it really can be bouldering. So yesterday I even said “This is going to be a bouldering day for me”. So you sit up there, you rest, and then you try three moves. Then you fall back down to that draw, pull back up, clip indirect, and hang there for five minutes and rest, and then try and repeat it. So you really are just doing boulder problems with rest in between, and that’s fine when you are working a route. That’s the only way you are going to do moves at your limit.

Neely Quinn: You have to have a willing belayer, but…

Paige Claassen: Yeah, for sure, but that’s what we are all doing. In some way, when you are trying something hard, it just takes a long time.

Neely Quinn: It seems like every day you go out there and you have a goal for the day.

Paige Claassen: Yeah. Um, maybe it’s not an obvious goal, or maybe I don’t even state it to myself. But yeah there are little things I like to achieve each day, whether it’s figuring out a move, or just making a move feel easier, or linking through a certain section. And that goal is rarely to get further from the ground, because at this point that’s not really going to help me. So my goal isn’t to get one move farther than I did yesterday, it’s to take a section of the route and say “How can I get better at this one section?”.

Yesterday I didn’t even climb on the bottom crux at all, because I needed to conserve myself for the top. I’m also having to remember here that it is so physical, and my body feels really beat up at the end of the day- I kind of feel like I got hit by a truck. So I also need to preserve my body. If I’m going full-on on the third crux, I don’t have anything left to work on the other cruxes, or I’d be totally broken. I have to prioritize my goals in that way as well.

Neely Quinn: Yeah so when do you know that it’s time to start making links and when do you know it’s time to try to actually redpoint?

Paige Claassen: It’s very dependent on the route, because some routes it does make sense to just try hard from the ground every time. I think if you have a move, or a section of moves that are really, really hard for you, you want to try and link into them. You also don’t want to fall into the trap of when you are hanging from a draw and then you pull onto the crux, you’re in a different position than when you climbed into that. Once you figure out those individual moves, then you want to start linking from a few moves below that. So maybe you drop to the bolt below that, hang there, and then try from that point so you’ve linked five moves into the three moves that were really hard for you previously. You add longer and longer sections so you feel confident and your body knows how to climb those moves when it’s a bit tired.

Then suddenly you’ve linked down to a rest, so you know that if you can do the whole first part of the route up to a rest, and then really recover there, you can also tell yourself “Okay I’ve done these moves from this hold before, so I’m perfectly capable of this. This isn’t anything new for me”, rather than being like “Oh my gosh, I’ve never climbed these moves from this rest before and I don’t even know how to climb into it”. So you add little pieces. Working from the top down is something you’ll hear, and that’s what I’m talking about, where you are working from a crux higher up, and then you add little bits below that to get more comfortable, rather than just working from the ground.

I think when you are a beginner projector, you’ll often try a hard route and then when you can’t get past a section, you just lower to the ground and then that’s your attempt. But to get comfortable pulling through sections and to learn how to dog up draws as well. Often when you clip indirect you’ll be able to reach up and grab the next draw, or finagle something. There’s often a bit of- it’s not pretty, but that’s how you project sometimes, is clipping up and flailing around a lot.

Neely Quinn: Do you ever use a stick clip to stick clip your way up a route?

Paige Claassen: No. People definitely do. There’s no problem with it, but I try and avoid that.

Neely Quinn: Why?

Paige Claassen: Well, normally I’m working routes on a trip, and if it’s so hard that I need a stick clip through sections, then maybe that could be a sign that it’s a little to hard for that period of time. I want to at least be able to hang on a hold long enough to pull through a section, or to kind of work through a section with your weight on the rope. There has to be some limitation. I also just, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s randomly the routes I’ve tried, but I’ve never been a climber that carries a stick clip around. I don’t have anything against stick clips, but I never find myself with a stick clip, so I’m not used to using that as a tool.But yeah, some people do and there’s no problem with that.

Neely Quinn: Normally when we would climb together in the gym, one of you things that I notice about you is that you rarely ever say “take”.

Paige Claassen: Mhm.

Neely Quinn: Because usually in the gym you are climbing on things that are within your ability level. But out here you are definitely saying take. Can you tell me when on your project you will let yourself say “take” and when you would rather fall?

Paige Claassen: Yeah, so my opinion is in the gym you should never ever say “take”.  Unless you’re, you know, projecting something in the gym and the gym is where you like to push yourself. But if you are using the gym as a training tool, you should never say take because you are cutting yourself off from a big learning moment. When you push yourself through a move that you don’t think you can do- so that’s normally when we say “take”, right? You’re like “Oh I’m so tired I can’t do this next move I’m just going to say ‘take’”. In the gym, if you at least do whatever you can to set up for that move or at least jump for it even if you are so far away, you are at least training your body to go for it. There is the physical benefit of muscle memory and training your body to at least attempt that move and then slowly learn it. But it’s also a mental thing, where if you are used to saying take, then you’re kind of used to giving up in a small way. That’s at least how I think of it.

Outside, that’s different when you are projecting, because at first- it depends again on the line- but there are some points where if you take big falls, it’s going to be really hard to get back up to the point where you were, or you’re going to waste a lot of energy boinking back up. So to say “take” to work through sections and figure out moves, and stare at the rock and figure out subtleties, that’s different. Once you are really trying to link sections, even if you feel like you are going to fall, just go for it. I think I’m about to that point, where I need to start pushing myself through links, where I now know what to do.

Maybe that is the breaking point- once you have your sequence, once you have your beta, you’re trying to just rock climb through sections and that’s when you should stop saying take. I think tomorrow is probably when I’ll start trying to link through and push myself. Even though I know I’m not going to get through certain sections, and that’s okay. If I’m at least setting up, then I’m training my body to push myself, and that’s when you see the biggest gains. It’s that extra, maybe it’s 1% that you give that’s going to help you, and that’s what is going to make you stronger and more capable.

Neely Quinn: So up to this point, you have been very patient. You fall, and you’re like “Hmm, okay, got it, learned, gonna get back on and try again, try something different”. That’s been really notable for me, because a lot of people, no matter where they are in the projecting process, they’re screaming and frustrated and tossing wobblers. You seem to stay very calm. Yesterday though you got frustrated. Can you tell me, what was the breaking point for that?

Paige Claassen: I’ve stayed calm up until now because I’m in the very infant stages of working this route. Up until now has been my first week and a half of working it. It’s still a very new process, you’re still learning. There’s not a lot of expectations yet. But yesterday I was frustrated because I knew I was capable of moves that I wasn’t even feeling I could set up for, and that can be due to a number of things. For me, yesterday, I get really bad tension headaches and I could feel that in the morning that I had a slight tension headache. From my training for this trip, doing weighted pull-ups or some of my TRX exercises would aggravate those headaches, and I’ve been worried about roof climbing here aggravating it because it did the first day. Yesterday as I got on the route, I was like “Oh man, it’s making it worse”, but you kind of get into that zone where you’re like “But I’m just gonna push through it anyway and torture myself even though I know this is a terrible idea”, and that’s what I did. So I kept climbing, and my headache got worse and worse, and I kept climbing worse and worse, because my muscles weren’t working. So that’s where the frustration came in, where you know you are capable of something, but you aren’t meeting that capability.

I think it’s a very small difference between your reality- what is it. Your expectations exceeding your reality, which I am definitely a victim of. Well, I make myself a victim of, because I have really high expectations of myself, and they’re often not realistic, which leads to some serious frustration that is really not helpful. So set expectations and set goals that are feasible, that aren’t going to make you frustrated, and that’s something I struggle with. To have a frustration, where I’m like “I’ve done these moves, they felt fine before, and today I just can’t even begin to set up for them”, then you need to evaluate what’s going on. Are you just tired because it’s second or third or fourth day on and you need to rest? Is there something wrong with your body that you need to tend to? For me, that was my headaches yesterday, so I needed to some body maintenance to relieve that tension. Maybe it’s the conditions. Climbers are really guilty of blaming everything on conditions, but sometimes that’s a real thing that’s going on. If it’s a warmer day, and it’s still out, and the holds feel like butter, that is a reason why the route feels harder and that’s okay. You don’t need to use it as an excuse and go complain to everyone, but you can tell yourself “It’s okay, tomorrow it’s going to feel better, and then we can really go hard”.

Let’s talk about conditions for a minute, because even after climbing for a lot of years, I didn’t understand until recently what good conditions are, and how much of a difference it can make. A lot of times we go out climbing and we want it to be warm and pleasant so we can hang out, but actually what we may want is much colder and maybe even windy conditions while we are climbing. Can you talk about what you think are good conditions and why?

Neely Quinn: Yeah so if you are having a pleasant day at the crag, then the conditions for climbing are definitely not right.

[laughter]

Paige Claassen: If you’re like miserable sitting around, then they’re probably perfect. Here, when it’s pouring rain and super windy, that’s when I felt it the best. I don’t know what the rain has to do with it, because you’d think the high humidity levels would make it slippery, but I think it’s because the storms- or the high winds bring in those storms. But when it’s super windy, it feels so good out.

Neely Quinn: And that was the only day that your route was dry.

Paige Claassen: Yeah there was magically a day when the crux undercling, which is apparently never ever dry, was bone dry, and some other people working the route were like “Wait what, it was completely dry?”, and I was like “Yeah!” [laughs]. But it hasn’t been like that since, and I don’t think it is every dry. But yeah, super windy and really cold, so it’s not fun to hang out in. And it’s not fun to climb in those conditions either. We came up with the term “misery burns”, which means your first burn up a route, you could even just do the first few bolts to numb your fingers, your fingers feel like they’re on fire, you have screaming barfies- that’s what we call them- and then you warm up your fingers and then you try again. So you got your misery burn out of the way. Now you have blood flow in your fingers and you can keep yourself warm.

So yeah, the good conditions for projecting aren’t fun to hang out in. And they can feel unnerving when you are climbing too. No one really likes to climb when the wind is so strong that it feels like it’s going to blow you off the wall. It’s kind of unnerving- your hair is in your face, your gear is everywhere, but that’s when you stick best. You kind of have to adjust to that being what you need, and learn how to deal with it.

Neely Quinn: Right, and this is for climbing stuff at your limit.

Paige Claassen: Right.

Neely Quinn: Or right below it.

Paige Claassen: If you’re just going to have a fun day out with your friends, totally go when it feels good outside, not when it’s heinous.

Neely Quinn: Also Paige has a very high tolerance for pain and suffering, almost more than anyone I know.

Paige Claassen: I don’t think that’s true though, I could never get into alpine climbing, because I’m like “No way, that’s too much suffering”. I’m good with sport climbing suffering, but there’s a line.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, okay I want to talk about how many days on your climb. Also, so rest in general, also how much rest you give yourself in-between burns in a given day.

Paige Claassen: I find that I climb my best with a lot of rest. Honestly, if I climb two days a week, I’ll climb super well. But on a trip, that doesn’t work because if I climb two days a week on a five week trip, I’d have ten climbing days. That’s not how you send things. But here, it’s seeming like one day on one day off is how you climb your best, which has been really frustrating for me. I’ve been trying to climb two days on now and then which hasn’t worked very well so far. But it’s hard when you’re like “It’s only half my days of the trip I’m climbing”, but maybe if it’s half the days where you are climbing well, it’s worth it.

Neely Quinn: Mhm.

Paige Claassen: But typically, on trips I climb two days on. I never climb more than two days on honestly. I hear people climbing three and four and more days on, and I can’t do that. I don’t know, I guess I’m a wimp, but I have trouble trying at my absolute limit when my body feels totally wrecked. You also don’t want to beat yourself to such a pulp that it takes a week to recover, or whatever it is. Again, really dependent on the rock type, if your skin is destroyed. But you have to listen to your body. If you’re totally destroyed, take a rest day, or two, or three. You have to give your body rest, and that’s the only way you are going to be in your peak condition. If you are constantly so beat down, there’s no way you are climbing at you limit.

That’s a hard balance, because there is the mental aspect as well, where you are psyched so you want to get out there, or you just have pressure so you’re like “I need to get out there and figure this out”. That’s kind of what I do to myself- I put a lot of pressure on and think I need to get out there, but I’d really be better off just resting and then going to siege the next day.

Neely Quinn: So when do you know that you need two days off?

Paige Claassen: Mmm, I think if you are so sore that you can’t move, or just walking around the house hurts, then you know that you could probably use some pretty serous rest. If you’re just tired at the end of the day, that’s good, that’s how you should feel.

Neely Quinn: So yesterday was second day on, today is a rest day- how do you feel?

Paige Claassen: Like I can’t wait to go climbing.

[laughter]

Like I can’t wait until it’s tomorrow and I can try my project again.

Neely Quinn: Like you want to drag me up there right now and have me belay you? [laughs]

Paige Claassen: Yes. Yeah. We know based on yesterday that that wouldn’t go well, but yeah. Rest is super key. When I’m at home training, it just depends. We all have lives, so you have work, or family, or whatever it is. Having a consistent schedule of two days on, one day off, two days on- there’s not very many people who can manage a schedule like that because of life logistics, not just your body. So you make it work based on what your schedule is, and there is not right or- well there are definitely some wrong ways. But there is no right way.

Neely Quinn: And then when you are climbing on your climbing days, you have basically been doing one warm up, and then you get on you project, and then you do it again. And then maybe you do some pitches at the end. How much rest do you give yourself?

Paige Claassen: That’s often dictated by who you are climbing with, and how long things take. We are in a group of three, so that means you kind of bust it out. You climb, then two people are climbing in between your burns, and so everyone is kind of going right after the other, and that’s sufficient rest. That’s probably two hours in between burns, which is more than I probably like to take. I would say a little over an hour in between burns in sufficient. Otherwise you start to cool down. But again, it all depends on the situation, because sometimes that’s not how it works. If the sun is coming, someone else is trying your project as well, you’re managing a group of people, you kind of just have to adapt to the situation. My ideal would be a little over an hour between burns.

Neely Quinn: Okay. And you try your project about two times in a day?

Paige Claassen: When I am trying my absolute hardest, like really putting 100% into burns, I can’t give more than two burns. I’m so destroyed by the end of that. If I went up, I would be trying to learn beta that isn’t necessary because I’m just so exhausted. Again, maybe if I was trained in a different way I would be able to give five burns. I hear people are like “Fifth burn of the day I sent the hardest route I’ve ever sent!”, and you’re like “What?”. I only try my project twice a a day, but that’s what works for me, I don’t know.

Neely Quinn: And then yesterday you had that tension headache, which I actually want to talk a little bit more about, because it comes from your shoulders/scap/neck area, and it’s from… do you want to talk a little bit about it, just in case other people have this?

Paige Claassen: Well I’ve had tension headaches for forever, since seventh or eighth grade. There was a year where I couldn’t read a paragraph because it would give me such a bad headache, so my mom had to read all my schoolbooks to me. But I grew out of that, luckily, but I still get really bad tension headaches. My shoulders will get so tight and my shoulder blades feel like they are glued to my back. And then it creeps up my neck and into my jaw and down the front of my neck, like my throat. So they’re not headaches in my head, they’re in my neck. They can be pretty intense, and I see someone when I’m in Colorado, I have a massage therapist I see, and when I’m in South Africa I see a biokineticist and a physio, and they both really help me. The headaches keep coming back, and we can’t really figure out why, but I think it’s because I’m always pushing my body. So if I’m training all the time, those muscles just keep getting tighter and tighter. Posture is a big thing for me. I’m actually taping my back right now with- what’s it called?

Neely Quinn: Kinetic tape?

Paige Claassen: Yeah KT tape. And my biokineticist tapes me for movement, not muscles, so that means a lot of times that KT tape, if you don’t put it on exactly in the right place at exactly the right stretch, it won’t do it’s job. But with this, it’s taping my back as a reminder to stand up straight. I notice the days I climb with that on I don’t get headaches, and yesterday I didn’t have it on and I got a really bad headache. I can just feel the tape stretch when I start to slouch, and it reminds me to just stand up a bit straighter, and that helps a lot with my headaches.

Neely Quinn: And after you go the headache, you actually had your- what did you call it? Your massager?

Paige Claassen: Yeah I have a back knobber. So I’ve learned to travel around with a little kit that helps. I have a massage ball- it’s like the material of a foam roller but it’s a ball. We’ll take a photo of it. It’s the size of a head maybe.

Neely Quinn: But what did you have up there yesterday though?

Paige Claassen: That was the back knobber.

Neely Quinn: Is that what it’s called?

Paige Claassen: Yeah, in the States it’s called something else.

Neely Quinn: It’s like an S shape thing that you can massage  your back with that has knobs on it.

Paige Claassen: It’s green- they’re always green. There’s another shape too that I’ve had before, that was like a P with a line through it or something.

Neely Quinn: So she had it up there at the crag and after she got her headache- you made it better.

Paige Claassen: Yeah I made my headache go away. So I can massage those knots out- it allows you to massage the knots without having to use a lot of pressure of your own force. That helped a lot. I worked behind my shoulder blades and then up behind my neck, but I actually went so hard with it that today the vertebrae in my neck are so bruised that they are inflamed and puffy.

Neely Quinn: This is what I mean about your pain tolerance Paige [laughs].

Paige Claassen: Yeah but…

Neely Quinn: Most people wouldn’t do that to themselves.

Paige Claassen: But I think when you are in pain, when you have such a bad headache, you’ll inflict a lot of pain on yourself to get rid of that other pain, which is odd. But it helped, so I’m hoping that today if I drink a lot of water, and really rest, and stand up straight, and do some PT, that tomorrow a lot of that tension will be gone.

Neely Quinn: Right, and there’s a lot of PT being done in this household. A lot of lacrosse ball-ing, a lot of that head sized ball-ing that she’s taking about, a lot of self-massage. I think that’s really important, especially when you are giving yourself one day of rest in between max burns.

Paige Claassen: Right. You have to find the tools you need to keep yourself healthy. So you guys brought a lacrosse ball and I’ve never used that before. Instead of rolling around on the ground on a foam roller, you roll against the wall on a lacrosse ball and you can really control the pressure, so that’s helping me a lot. Again, the ball, the back knobber, and another tool I really like is called the runner’s stick. It’s like these white beads along a stick. Here I don’t have mine, so I’m using a rolling pin, like a cooking, a baking rolling pin.  You can use that on your calves, and on your IT bands, and all kinds of things. Your forearms. But that helps to relieve a lot of tightness from my ankle injury, so that will help me loosen up my calf muscles.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, and then we also brought an Armaid.

Paige Claassen: Yup.

Neely Quinn: And so all of these things are definitely packable, and we didn’t have to take an extra bag or anything. We just fit all of it into our bags, so I think it’s worth it.

Paige Claassen: Yeah, you know what your body needs, you know your weaknesses and what injuries you are susceptible to, and you have to prepare for that on a trip.

Neely Quinn: So you have five weeks here. I think a lot of people would be like “Five weeks, that’s a really long time, I’m just going to train on my trip too”. What do you think about that?

Paige Claassen: I don’t train while I’m on a trip, because again, I’m climbing every day that I fee capable of climbing, and on the rest days, I’m trying to recover from being so destroyed. Training is just going to beat me into the ground further. Some people are able to do that, but for me, I did my preparation ahead of time and now it’s time to focus on the goal.

Neely Quinn: A lot of the guys here are saying that they lost their “snap”, after a couple of weeks here. Do you think there’s anyway that you can avoid that, even without training?

Paige Claassen: Well you know, I’m not climbing 15c or d, which is what the people saying that were climbing [laughs]. So I don’t know if I have that same snap to begin with. But yes, my belief is that when you are trying 100% on moves, that’s training. If you are taking a bunch and giving like 90% or 95%, you’re definitely going to get weaker. But if you are trying your absolute hardest, where every muscle in your body is working at it’s max to get you through one single move, that’s training, and that’s more than you push your body in training in my mind. So that’s how I stay strong, is by trying at my max effort.

Neely Quinn: Okay. Now a lot of people listening to this are not on a five week trip, and they will probably never be on a five week trip, and they’ll probably never be on a five week trip, because it’s kind of- I don’t know know-a special thing to be able to do.

Paige Claassen: Yeah definitely, it’s a privilege to be able to do climb for that long.

Neely Quinn: Yeah. Or even a three week trip is sometimes out of the question for a lot of people. Most people are going to be weekend warrior-ing it or whatever. If you had a project and you could only go there on the weekends, how would it be different for you? Can you tell me about your training and resting and stuff?

Paige Claassen: Yeah, that’s actually when I feel like I climb my best. When I was in school, I would climb twice in the gym during the week, and then one day outside on the weekend. So I would try my project once a week. I knew that that day out, that was all I had for the week so I had to give it everything I had. I actually climbed really well and I could send a lot faster, because you have that motivation of the whole week. You’re also resting a lot, so again, I wasn’t beating myself up five days during the week in the gym and then going to try my project. It was like two days of training, one day of projecting.

Neely Quinn: Would you do stuff on your other days?

Paige Claassen: Nope, because I was studying so I didn’t have time. And that was like two hours in the gym twice a week, and then one day out projecting on the weekends.

Neely Quinn: That’s pretty awesome- that’s so good that you just said that, because I think some people think you have to train five days a week to get anywhere, and project.

Paige Claassen: No, it’s so not true, and I think that’s when I climbed my best. Because of the rest, and the focus that you have. You know these are my two hours to train, this is all I have, or this is my one hour to train. So rather than going to to gym and chatting, scrolling on your phone, or looking through some magazines between sets, you’re focused. You get it done, and you go out of there destroyed. Then you have your two days to recover and then your go try your project. You’re focused during that time, and that’s when you climb your best- when you are psyched and you are focused. Sometimes I think I should just adopt that schedule a time.

Neely Quinn: Why only one day on the weekend, why not two?

Paige Claassen: Because I didn’t have time. When I was studying I needed to study on the weekend as well. I was a little bit aggro in school, so I put a lot of pressure on myself there too. But I think that is typical of the average climber- you have a job, you have a family, you can’t just go out climbing every day, or climb every day after work. You might have half a day to go try your project on the weekend, and that’s perfectly fine. Obviously it depends on how far you have to drive, and whether your family can come with you and all of that, but you can make it happen. It just takes a bit of a different mindset.

Neely Quinn: So I want to talk a little bit more about frustration- I have a couple more questions for you besides that. When you do get frustrated, and it’s not necessarily because you are also having this terrible headache up on the wall too- when you get to the point where you are in the midst of projecting, you’ve been on it quite a few times, you’re just not making the progress you want to make- what do you tell yourself to stay grounded and stay motivated?

Paige Claassen: First of all, I think if you are so frustrated that you are totally beating yourself up… Okay, let’s say you are hanging in the middle of a route during this episode of frustration, however you express frustration- if it’s just sagging in your harness, or throwing a fit or whatever if is- if you’re to that point where you are really beating yourself up, you need to just lower to the ground and just chill out and climb something different. That’s what I realized yesterday.  I was like, “I’m not climbing well, I’m not having fun, and this isn’t helping me”. Me falling on this move that I did yesterday isn’t helping me learn it, and I’m just beating myself up for nothing. So I need to lower down, I rested for a while, and then I went and climbed a 12d that was super, super fun. It made me feel a lot better about everything. To just enjoy climbing, because I’m in an awesome area and then climbing is really fun, not because there is a rock climb that I couldn’t do and I hated myself for it.

When you get to that dark place, just step back. It’s still rock climbing. And to put things in perspective and just be like “Okay, my life doesn’t depend on this route. My friends and family will still love me, I just have to love myself”. So to take a bit of a wider angle, I think that’s the best for me.

Neely Quinn: Can you do that on the route? Do you have to do that on the route, and then stay on? If it doesn’t get to a super dark place.

Paige Claassen: Yeah. Because frustration is going to come up inevitably, but to focus on the small improvements that you’ve made, and to know that every day is not going to be…  you aren’t going to make improvements every day. There’s only been one project in my whole life that I made improvements every single day, and that was Just Do It. I don’t know why that happened, but every single day I made a little bit of progress until I sent, and I never had a backwards slide. But that’s never happened other than that route. So it’s just part of the process. You have good days and bad days and it depends on a lot of different things. To be okay with that, and to just know that if you are getting yourself into a long term project, there are going to be days where you feel like you are climbing a lot worse, or things just aren’t coming together. To know to either step back or to push through that based on where your head is at.

Neely Quinn: It sounds like a marriage- it sounds like a long term relationship.

Paige Claassen: Yeah totally [laughs].

Neely Quinn: Okay I want to talk about food a little bit. A lot of people go to the crag and they don’t really bring food. They bring a snack or something and they don’t really think about food much.

Paige Claassen: Yeah. Snacks are the most important part of my day.

Neely Quinn: Okay- in general.

Paige Claassen: If I don’t have good snacks with me I’m going to be bummed. Snacks are important to my emotional well being [laughs]. So bring food that you like to eat. Don’t just bring a gross old PowerBar that has been sitting in your backpack for ages and that’s your snack for the day. I’ll bring a lot of food to the cliff, because I don’t know how long I’m going to be out there. Maybe I have a big snack day where I just need to eat a lot of snacks and that’s okay. When you are out climbing a bunch and pushing your limits, and you’re hiking and you are cold all day, you have to fuel your body. Those aren’t the days- I don’t think there is ever an appropriate day to starve yourself, but especially when you are out climbing, fuel your body.

I don’t really have specifics on like “Oh I eat these specific things because they help me climb well”. I eat a lot of carbs and a lot of sugar. That’s what I like to eat, and it seems to work well for my body. That’s when my stomach doesn’t hurt and that’s when I have energy. I feel like have sustained energy, even though that’s the opposite of what you typically hear. I’ll eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches happily at the crag, and gummy bears, and you know.

Neely Quinn: What did you bring out yesterday?

Paige Claassen: So here I have been eating super healthy, by my standards. Smoked salmon is readily available in Norway, so I’ve been having smoked salmon, avocados and crackers. Then I’ll have almonds and dried mangoes, because I brought a bunch of bulk from home. I’ve been bringing some cookies, and I try and drink a lot of water. It’s hard for me to drink water at the cliff, especially when you are cold, but I’m trying to drink a whole Nalgene when I’m up there which isn’t really that much, but it’s easy to not drink water the whole day.

I’ve been coming home and having eaten all my snacks, and that’s typical for me. We have a joke that when I climb at Smith Rock with my friends Ian and Kristen, I’ll often eat their lunches as well [laughs]. Like they won’t eat their sandwiches and I will have eaten three peanut butter and jellies by the end of the day.

Neely Quinn: A lot of people won’t eat within a certain time of when they are actually going to climb…

Paige Claassen: No. Food is so emotional to me that I’ll eat to entertain myself. I will have eaten five minutes before I get on the wall, and maybe that’s a bad thing. I’m sure lots of of people tell me it is.

Neely Quinn: No, I think it’s the foods that you choose, because they don’t hurt your stomach.

Paige Claassen: Right. Probably if you have a bunch of protein before you climb, then your body is trying to break that down and maybe that’s not the best. But I don’t know, if I eat a bunch of sugar right before I get on the wall, I’m going to feel great.

Neely Quinn: Okay, so eat.

Paige Claassen: Eat! Yeah, whatever it is, eat what your body wants. Take something good. It doesn’t have to be expensive, you don’t have to go to Whole Foods and buy a bunch of fancy stuff. Just take something that you will enjoy eating for the day. It makes you a lot happier and it makes your whole day more enjoyable.

Neely Quinn: Okay. I think that was all of my questions, except do you want to mention your sponsors?

Paige Claassen: Yeah- La Sportiva is my main sponsor that has helped me be here, and Maxim Ropes, and Camp.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, and we are using a really good Maxim Rope out there.

Paige Claassen: Yeah, the Airliner, it’s one of their thinner ropes. We have an 80 meter, and it’s purple. I’ve never seen purple rope before, so I’m pretty psyched on that.

Neely Quinn: It’s pretty nice.

Paige Claassen: Bicolored.

Neely Quinn: And we are using your Camp draws.

Paige Claassen: Yup. The Photons and Orbits. Those are my go-to draws- they are super light so they pack easy, and they’re light on your harness. Here you are often taking like twenty draws up a route, which for sport climbing is quite a lot.

Neely Quinn: And then Sportiva- you are always in Sportive clothing which is awesome. You’re very colorful out there.

Paige Claassen: Yup, I am super bright.

Neely Quinn: And then your shoes. Tell me how you choose your shoes for your route, for your project.

Paige Claassen: So, when you are going on a trip you kind of have to predict what kind of shoes you are going to need. It’s smart to bring a soft pair of shoes and then a stiffer, edging pair, unless you know you are just going to need one or the other. Here, I’ve mostly been wearing the Genius and the Skwama, which are both really soft shoes. They both fit pretty narrow to my foot, which is good for heel hooking. They both have really nice heels, but for me, I struggle with heel hooking because my feet are so narrow. Those fit my heel really well, so I never feel like I am slipping at all.

Neely Quinn: You’re toe hooking on this route as well, and they feel good for that?

Paige Claassen: Yup, especially the Skwama. The toe rubber comes up pretty high, so that’s key for roof climbing. So yeah, the Skwamas have kind of been my go-to here, but the Genius is working as well. People are skeptical about the no-edge thing, which I totally get, because I was skeptical as well, but on sandstone it’s really nice. Like Fontainebleau, no-edge is perfect. And honestly, this granite here is a lot like-

Neely Quinn: Sandstone.

Paige Claassen: Really nice sandstone. It kind of feels like Font rock. That’s crazy, but the no-edge is perfect here, because you aren’t using tiny crystals ever. You are either smearing or like-

Neely Quinn: On a huge foot.

Paige Claassen: On a huge jug, and the no-edge is really, really good for smearing.

Neely Quinn: Cool, alright.

Paige Claassen: Yeah.

Neely Quinn: Anything else you want to add?

Paige Claassen: I think we covered it. Let’s see what we can come up with next week. Maybe we will have some more progress.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, good luck this week.

Paige Claassen: Alright, thanks.

Neely Quinn: I hope you enjoyed that interview with Paige Claassen. You can find her on social media, Instagram and Facebook, at @paigeclaassen, and her last name is C-L-A-A-S-S-E-N. Her website is paigeclaassen.com, and then she also has her non-profit, which we did not talk about this episode, but she is working to help school children in South Africa, and you can find that at sa- as in South Africa- saeducation.org. She is doing really great things over there.

So, like I said, I hopefully will do another interview with her, but we will see how that works out over here. We have one week left, and then we go back to the States. Coming up, also like I said, is Adam Ondra’s interview, I have that interview with him tomorrow. I’ll try to get it up in a couple of days, and we will talk about his very unique and interesting training for this route he just did, and what is next for him, because what could possibly be next for him? But he assured me there are projects everywhere.

The other announcement that I have for you is that Matt Pincus, who you know because he does the blog posts on TrainingBeta and he does most of the social media for us too, he’s also a very strong climber. He is a 5.14 climber, he is really good at projecting- actually on this subject- and he is also a trainer. He has been training climbers and helping them with sending their own projects. Pretty soon he is going to have his services available on TrainingBeta, much like Mercedes Pollmeier has currently. He’ll be doing online training, so from a distance he can create training programs for you that are catered exactly to your equipment, your capabilities, and your goals. I’ll announce that when it officially becomes available, but I just wanted to let you know that it is going to become available soon, and I’m happy to have him on the team, because Mercedes is full up. She’s got a huge waitlist, so we are going to try to alleviate some of that.

Lastly, if you need any help from you training and you don’t have or can’t afford a personal trainer even online, we have training programs for you that are very affordable at about $15 a month. Kris Peters created our boulder, strength, and power program, and our route training program. They both give you three unique workouts every week, they go through six weeks cycles, so you can train everything you need for bouldering, or route training. There is a lot of power endurance cycles, strength cycles, finger strength cycles. It’s made for climbers of most abilities, pretty much all abilities. A lot of the exercises are adaptable for your abilities. You can find that at trainingbeta.com, and at the top there is a tab for all of our training programs and you can find everything there.

So thanks very much for listening all the way to the end. Find me on social media at @trainingbeta, and I’ll talk to you soon.


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