Date: September 21st, 2017
About Paige Claassen
I recently returned from 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. It was no different in Norway.
Paige wanted to go to Norway specifically so that she could try Odin’s Eye, 5.14c, a route she had picked out from videos because she said it looked so beautiful and inspiring. On day 2 of our trip there, she was already in project mode, and after 4 weeks she sent it.
This is my third interview with her during during this Norway era, and in it, we talk about what it was like to project and send her project, what she thinks she did right with her training, and what she might have done differently, and how she fuels herself.
Our first interview of the trip was about her training and preparation for this trip. And our second interview was about how to project a route at your limit.
Paige’s Project, Odin’s Eye (SENT!!)
The route that Paige did 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 recently sent (check out my interview with him about it here).
Here are Ethan Pringle, Dani Andrada, and Magnus Mitdbo vying for the FA of Odin’s Eye. Congrats to Paige for sending this rig!
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 on her project for the 3 weeks we were there, it was inspirational and educational for me to see her process on a route near her limit. She zeroed in on this goal and didn’t let anything, including awful conditions, seeping holds, a painful ankle, and a tweaked hamstring, get in her way of sending. She is one of the most stubborn, determined, stoic people I know, and I think all of those qualities drove her to the send. I wanted to talk to her about how she stays strong in the face of climbing adversity.
Here’s what we talked about:
- What kept her psyched on this route
- Overcoming adversity on this route (conditions, seeping, etc)
- Exactly how she trained for this
- How to try REALLY HARD
- The “no take” rule
- How she used TrainingBeta to train
- How she feeds herself to stay lean and strong
- What’s next
Paige Claassen Links
- My first interview with Paige in Norway about her training for Flatanger
- My second interview with Paige in Norway about how to successfully project a route
- My first interview in 2013 with Paige about Lead Now
- Paige’s Rock Climbing Website: www.paigeclaassen.com
- Paige’s non-profit Southern Africa Education Fund: www.saeducationfund.org that helps kids receive the education necessary to lift themselves and their families out of poverty
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
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…
- Personal Training Online: www.trainingbeta.com/mercedes
- For Boulderers: Bouldering Training Program for boulderers of all abilities
- For Route Climbers: Route Climbing Training Program for route climbers of all abilities
- Finger Strength : www.trainingbeta.com/fingers
- All of our training programs: Training Programs Page
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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 today I’m on Episode 89 of the podcast where I talk again with Paige Claassen. As you know, probably, we were in Norway for about three weeks with Paige. We watched her go through her process there of getting on her project- Odin’s Eye, which is 8c+ or 14c- for the first time, into getting through all of the cruxes, making good links, getting a little bit injured, and then finally we left. About a week later, a couple of days ago, she sent her project. It took her less than four weeks to do it, and she put a lot of preparation into it. She made a video of her training, actually, which is on this episode page. She did some really specific things for this type of climbing, which in Flatanger Norway, is very overhung, very physical and bouldery. I wanted to talk to Paige about how she got to sending, because this is the hardest thing she has sent in a while, and she did it with ease, so obviously something was working for her. She points out some very specific things that she did differently for this trip, and for this route. Also we talk about how headstrong she is, and the kinds of things that she did to keep herself psyched- some pep talks that she gave herself, and how to try hard, which is something that a lot of us don’t really know how to do, maybe even including myself. It’s cool to get a master class on sending from such a strong climber like Paige Claassen.
So before I get into the interview, I want to remind you that if you need help with your own training, that’s what we do here at TrainingBeta. We have training programs for route climbers, for boulders, for people who just want to train finger strength or power endurance. They’re all very affordable, you don’t have to hire a trainer. You can just use our super easy to follow training programs, and we’ve had thousands of people go through these programs and have had a lot of success with them. If you want to check those out, go to trainingbeta.com, and you’ll find the training programs tab at the top.
Thanks very much for listening, and here is the interview with Paige Claassen, enjoy.
Neely Quinn: Alright, welcome back to the show Paige, thanks again for being with me.
Paige Claassen: Yeah, I wish you were here this time.
Neely Quinn: I know, it’s such a bummer. You’re talking to me from our old room, which is really sad, but…
Paige Claassen: Yup, we miss you. But alas, here we are, over Skype.
Neely Quinn: And good things have happened since we left. You sent- congratulations!
Paige Claassen: Thanks! I’m super excited.
Neely Quinn: Yeah? Tell me about it.
Paige Claassen: Well, where should we start. I felt very excited and happy, and relieved. So normally when I finish a project, it’s one of those things. If it goes down quickly, you’re just excited. If it took forever, you’re just relieved and you’re not even really excited anymore. But this happened in that time frame where I could get all of the emotions, so it was great.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, it was really quick- less than a month, right?
Paige Claassen: Yeah it was like, three and a half weeks. I was starting to get a little nervous. I was like “Oh man, we only have two weeks left, and what if the conditions aren’t great? Or what if I just blow it a bunch of times?”. You just start coming up with all the what-ifs in your head, but I tried really hard to block those all out, because I knew that those are the types of thoughts that don’t get anywhere and they can only hurt your climbing. So I tried to stay positive, to just focus on the fact that I had plenty of time, that I was more than capable, that I had made good links, and that it could go down. So, it worked.
Neely Quinn: Yeah it definitely worked. And that’s part of what I want to talk to you about today, is how strong you keep your head, and what people can learn from that.
Paige Claassen: Cool.
Neely Quinn: But before I ask you about that, this is- it was 14c. It was a different style for you, than normal, in that it’s so overhung. And you did it really quickly. So in my mind, I’m like well, what’s next? Are you gonna try something harder? What does this say to you about your limit?
Paige Claassen: Um, I’m not sure what it says about my limit, but I think it taught me something about my preparation. I’ve never really- this sounds silly, but I’ve never prepared for a route like I prepared for this. Even though I didn’t have a long span of time to prepare, I still did very specific exercises that were tailored to this style of climbing. I could tell a huge difference. My training really, really helped from the very beginning, I could tell. I’m trying to think of other differences, and as we’ve talked about in past podcasts, I’m eating a lot more protein, and I’m taking MSM, and I’m taking this other thing that could just be a marketing hoax, but it’s by this natural vitamin company and it claims to be anti-inflammatory and help with endurance. And also be a natural sunscreen from the inside.
Neely Quinn: Wait what is it?
Paige Claassen: It’s called Anti X. It’s some South African company- I can send you a photo to post. I didn’t really look into the science behind it, but I thought I’d try it. So those three things- the protein, the MSM, the Anti X, and then the training. Those were the changes I made, and I could feel a big difference in my climbing. I felt well prepared, I felt like I had snap, and I felt like I recovered really well this trip. I often feel like one rest day isn’t enough, or that sometimes even two rest days isn’t enough, especially on a style like this where it’s very, very physical and steep, and kind of hard on your body. But here I felt like I recovered really well. I would get sore, but it would go away quickly, and I didn’t feel injured aside from that hamstring thing.
Neely Quinn: I forgot about the Anti X thing. With your training, tell me exactly what the differences were that you felt this time? How did you feel stronger and what about your training do you think did that?
Paige Claassen: So, you know how when you’ll go to a new area, or get on a new route, and you’re like “I just don’t feel capable, I don’t have that snap, I don’t have that oomph. I just feel kind of like a floppy noodle”. That wasn’t there this time, and those are really common feelings for al of us. I think it’s just a general sentiment of being underprepared. If I haven’t- say I haven’t been climbing in a while after an injury, or when I was in school and had a lot of school work and hadn’t been climbing as much as I wanted- whatever it is. If you’re just getting on a different style that you’re not prepared for, you’ll just lack that pizazz, and that feeling that… it’s almost like a feeling of being invincible, even though you’re not, and you fall a lot, and you struggle with things- you feel capable. You have that confidence that is definitely mental, but I think it also comes from a physical place, where your body knows it’s well prepared and that it’s capable. Your mind can click into that motivated state, where you can really zero in and try your absolutely hardest.
Neely Quinn: Mhm. So what do you think gave you that? Can you just kind of recap what you were doing for your training, and how you think it helped you?
Paige Claassen: I was doing weighted pull-ups, which I think made a huge difference. I’ve never done anything like that, and I’m not good at pull-ups. I think this route really was about the big muscle groups. That made a huge difference. I did a lot of TRX training, which I think just helps stabilize, and engages your core and those big back muscles, which I’m sure was helpful. Then the toe hook training was huge. That was kind of a silly thing that I added in, but I could tell from the very beginning that I, again, felt capable on toe hooks, and I’ve never felt like that in my life. Any time I try a boulder- never tried a route with a toe hook- but any time I’ve tried a boulder with a toe hook, I just can’t even begin to engage it. This time I was like “Cool, I can do this, I know how to do this”. My leg feels like it’s engaging, my foot feels like it’s engaging, and I know that it was from doing those Moonboard exercises where I would just walk my toes up and down the Moonboard, and find different hooks in the gym.
Neely Quinn: Fortunately, your crux three was, I mean, a big part of it was getting the toe hook and engaging it, right?
Paige Claassen: Yeah. Almost fully. That’s the hardest move, but it’s also in the middle of other hard moves, so you’re already a bit powered down. You really have to drop the hammer there, and that’s what I lacked a few days before. It was perfect conditions out, the route was really dry, which it’s never that dry, and I felt a lot of pressure. I was super nervous, and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, just because it was so amazing out. I fell on that hard move in the third crux, and I just knew that I wasn’t trying hard enough- that’s the only thing it was. Everything else went perfectly, I climbed well, I did my beta correctly, but I didn’t try hard enough.
That’s what I did differently this time around, even when the day I sent it was pretty wet- a lot wetter than normal. All those jug underclings before the eye were super wet. I tried my hardest to dry them off with a t-shirt and chalk, and toilet paper, but they were still really wet. I just told myself, if you can get through this, you know that the second half is dry. You know that the third crux is never wet, so you can do this, if you can just pull through the first half that’s wet. And it worked. I got up there, to the third crux, and I tried really hard, and then I tried hard the whole way to the top, and fortunately didn’t punt off the top, which I was worried about [laughs], because there’s still some hard moves up there.
Two days before, I had fallen on the fourth crux, which I hadn’t fallen on in a really long time, like since the beginning. That move is really hard for me, but I can burl through it. But when I fell off, I was like “Oh man, I can’t log this in my memory. I just have to forget that this fall happened, because if it’s in my head that I can fall here, then it’s going to mess with my confidence”. I was just like, erase that fall, it didn’t happen, it was kind of a fluke anyway. It was pretty wet up there- I know now that I’m sounding contradictory, because I just said how dry it was, but the weather changes so fast up here. It was perfect in the morning and then wet in the afternoon. So I slipped off, but I had stuck the hold. I just kept it that my head- “You stuck the hold, your feet slipped, but that’s not going to happen. Just don’t think about that”. So, that worked.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, it worked. Your stoic, I don’t know, stubborn mind did good things for you.
Paige Claassen: [laughs] It worked. But- so after I stuck the third crux, and you still have a few really good rests after that, you still have half the route to climb with quite a few hard moves. You have two really good rests, but I was so nervous at those rests, and I was a lot more pumped than I had ever been. Even when I got into the eye rest, which is before the third crux, I was a lot more pumped and tired than I normally am, which was interesting. Trying hard can really make up for not feeling your best.
I think that’s what I’ve noticed over the years projecting. I normally send when I have a stomach ache, or something is kind of off. I think it’s that the pressure is off. When everything is perfect, you sometimes feel so much pressure, but if one little thing is off, or you don’t feel amazing, it’s just another climbing day and sometimes that’s when you send. I was more pumped than usual, but I got through the hardest part, and then really took advantage of those rests, even though I wasn’t recovering as much as I wanted, I knew it was enough. I was so nervous, because I knew that I could fall, as much as I was trying to push that out of my head. I knew it was possible to peel off, anywhere really, in a few different spots.
Just before the fourth crux, I was in this kneebar rest, and I gave myself a pep talk. I was like, whispering out loud to myself. Which, in that cave, where the ground follows it up, whoever is there can hear, but I didn’t care. But I said a little prayer, and I gave myself a pep talk and was like “Come on, you can do this, you got this”, and I didn’t fall at the fourth crux, and it worked.
Neely Quinn: Nice.
Paige Claassen: So personal pep talks, there’s something to it.
Neely Quinn: Can you tell me more about what you said to yourself?
Paige Claassen: Well, a lot of people know that I’m Christian, so I definitely said a prayer. And I do think that God cares about the little things, I think he wants us to have fun in this life. But I definitely was like “Come on Paige, you got this”- third person, let’s have a little conversation- “You can do this, you’ve done it before, you’re strong, you know how to do this, be confident, just do it”. So, you know, nothing crazy. You’re just telling yourself what you already know.
Neely Quinn: Yeah yeah. That’s what I want to hear from people. I always try to get this out of them, like what do you say to yourself when you’re nervous, and you’re up there. And you just said exactly what it is. It’s so simple, but just saying it I think helps get you in the right state of mind.
Paige Claassen: Yeah, and I think saying “You can do this, you’ve done this before”. Because it’s true. When we are projecting, we link sections together from different points. So wherever you are on the route, you’ve done that within a link. Once you get past a crux- I remembered this on Just Do It, too at the top- it’s just like “You can do this, you’ve done it before. You know how to do this, you’ve linked it, you’ve got this”. Positive thinking can do a long way.
Neely Quinn: Something else that you said earlier- you said that you had to try hard. You had to try harder.
Paige Claassen: Yup.
Neely Quinn: I’m not sure that… I think that there is a different state of mind when you are actually trying hard. I think a lot of us think that we are trying hard, but I think that there is another level that we can get to. I’d like you to explain what that means. What did you have to do to make yourself try harder?
Paige Claassen: Yeah, so that’s a really hard thing to teach people. It’s something I talk about when I teach clinics, but it’s really hard to explain, and it takes a really long time to learn. I’ll start from the first time I ever tried hard, which was when I did Grand Ole Opry in Colorado- 2010 or ’11. I remember the first time that I tried so hard that I made- I think it was a squeak. Like a small, embarrassing squeak. But I knew that every single fiber in my body had engaged to accomplish one move. We forget that all of your effort can go into one little move, and that’s just part of the whole route. It’s kind of like a bouldering concept, where you’re not giving 90% because you know that you have to give 90% for this whole long route, that could span thirty meters, or forty five minutes or whatever it is. You really have to break it down, and if that crux move is going to take everything you have, then you have to give it everything you have.
I make noises when I climb. I don’t like that I do. I used to judge people who made noises when they climbed, because I thought it was show-boating, and just, I don’t know- a demonstration of how cool you are. But since that time when I made a squeak, I think my noises and changed a bit. Some of my friends call it “muppeting”, because it’s not grunting or screaming. It’s just like muffled grunts or squeaks or something. But it’s when I know that I’m trying my absolute hardest. It’s when you feel like you’re peeling off the wall- you feel like you’re falling, but you’re trying so hard to gri[ with your hands, to push with your feet, to counteract everything that is trying to pull you off the wall, just to stick and pull through another move. That’s something that you can’t just be like “Oh, I heard about trying hard on this podcast, now I’m going to try hard and see if it works”. It’s something that you have to practice over, and over, and over, for years and years.
You can only practice it if you are working routes that are above your limit, or say at your limit. If it’s moves that you are comfortable or, or confident on, or you can do, that’s not going to teach you how to try 110%. You have to get on moves and routes that feel above your limit, where you don’t even know if you can do that move. You really are going to have to give over 100% to pull that off. I think the best way to practice is just try things that are too hard for you. It can be in the gym, or outside, and there is definitely a time and place for it. If you’re at a busy crag and there is people lined up for a route, it’s not the time to take forever on a route that is too hard for you. But if you have a situation where it makes sense and you have a willing partner, try something that’s too hard. You don’t even have to go to the top, just try some moves, and just see if you can start to grasp that feeling of putting every fiber of your body into one single move. Then learn to do that over and over, and then recover at rests, and that’s kind of how the whole projecting thing starts to come together- when it’s something that is really at your ability level, or above your ability level.
Neely Quinn: And I think you do practice that in the gym sometimes, where I’ve seen you. Even though you are super pumped- because I think that’s where trying hard comes into play too. We get pumped, we get scared- this is what I do at least- we get scared that we are going to fall off, we don’t want to fall off, we definitely don’t want to fall while we are clipping or something, and so we say take, or we fall off purposely, before we fail. You have the ability to just keep going regardless.
Paige Claassen: Yeah, and I don’t think it’s an endurance thing. I get the feeling that people think I’m an endurance climber, and I’m definitely not. I really prefer routes that are bouldery to an extent, with rests in the middle. If it’s just the same moderately hard move over and over, I really struggle. So it’s not about just fighting through the forearm pump, it’s about having a move that- say even if it’s on the ground, the first move, it would still take everything you have to do it. I think that’s the difference, is it’s learning how to do a really hard boulder, when it’s halfway up a route, or at the top of a route. So you’re already not only pumped, but you’re also powered down. That try hard helps you to push through the times when you’re already tired. It just gives you that extra “grr”.
This is also super random and silly, but when I was working Just Do It, we were watching this show Vikings. We would always use Viking sayings when we would go out climbing. It just sticks in your head that you have to give it this very primal try hard grr, and there’s no way to tap into that until you’re really desperate. So as desperate as sport climbing can make you, because you are still really safe and you’re clipping bolts.
Try it in a safe place, like in the gym the clips are pretty close together, so you don’t really need to worry about not being able to make a clip. And it’s great in the gym to practice, because there is normally an easier route that overlaps through what you are trying, so if you get super desperate and can’t clip and it’s becoming a problem, you can just grab a jug and then clip.
But yeah, I call it the No Take Rule- we might have discussed this before. We talked about how that doesn’t always apply when you are projecting, but to learn how to try hard in the gym or at a crag you’re comfortable at, don’t say take. “Take” is the worst thing for your climbing, because it teaches you to give up. I can see it in my own climbing, when I’m not confident and I don’t feel like I’m fit and have that oomph, I’ll start to say “take”, and I’ll have to train that out of myself. And try hard even when you think you’re going to fall. Even when you know 100% that you’re going to fall. You’re like “There’s no way I’m going to do this move”, try anyway and just take the fall. Because that’s we do. That’s what climbing is about, it’s about falling. We fall more often than we send, so you have to get comfortable falling, and you have to get comfortable failing, and know that it’s part of the process to work towards success. Really trying not to say “take” in climbing. I think that’s the biggest advice I can give to people who are learning how to try hard, is that “take” doesn’t do you any favors.
Neely Quinn: Right. Wise words.
Paige Claassen: There’s my rant on taking.
Neely Quinn: Okay. I want to go back actually to your training, because I know that people always want more details. You said that you did weighted pull-ups, TRX, and toe hooks. The toe hook training, which all of this you can see on her video that is on the episode page. Can you tell me how many days a week you did the weighted pull-ups, and what kinds of sets, reps, and what kind of weight you were using?
Paige Claassen: Yes. So with the weighted pull-ups, TRX stuff, I would only do that twice a week because it was something that was new to me, and I knew I could really get hurt with it. When you are incorporating something knew, and you know when something is aggressive. If you’re just starting campusing, you should campus max twice a week, and that’s how I felt with the weighted pull-ups and the TRX. Max twice a week. And also, I struggle with tension headaches, and when I did those exercises it gave me really bad headaches. I worked with some trainers and physical therapists that I know to make sure that I was doing those exercises correctly and not hurting myself. Ultimately, it’s just really hard on your body. The number one goal of training is always to not get hurt. If you get hurt training, you have no chance to even use your training. That’s the key.
As far as weighted pull-ups and the TRX exercises, that was all information I found on TrainingBeta, honestly. When we decided to go on this trip, I was like “Man, I need a plan. How am I gonna prepare for this?”. TrainingBeta is the perfect resource- you know this, you are TrainingBeta- to have all this information right at your hands, and it’s all in in one spot. You just search what you are looking for. The same things came up over and over with the TRX, the Is Ys and Ts. Look it up on TrainingBeta if you don’t know what I’m talking about. There’s multiple articles on these same things, and weighted pull-ups as well.
With the pull-ups I would do five sets with two minute rests in between. You told me, I don’t know what article this is in reference to, to use the amount of weight where you are maxing out around four pull-ups. So if you are able to do five or more pull-ups then you need to add weight, and if you can’t even get to three, then you need to take some weight off.
I think for me, I could actually tell each week, I would add weight. I’d be able to do more weight, so I could see really quick progress. I think in the end I got up to fifteen kilograms. I was just using bottles of water, because I didn’t have weights to attach to my harness. You just put your harness on- you can use a sling or quickdraw- and then you attach weights, or things that you can easily find out the weight. Bottles of water works.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. Did you weight it? Or did you just look up how much a gallon or water weighed?
Paige Claassen: Well I was in South Africa, so yay for the metric system. One liter of water is one kilogram. I had a few weights, and then I had a five liter bottle of water, that’s five kilograms. I’m trying to look up how many- I need to convert kilograms to pounds.
Neely Quinn: Well I mean, either way- man I wish we used the metric system, we’re so dumb.
Paige Claassen: It’s so much easier. So fifteen kilograms is thirty three pounds. Which I don’t think is that much for weighted pull-ups, but again, I’d never done them before. So go easy on yourself too, where you can’t get hurt training. Do what makes sense, do what feels right, and if it hurts in the wrong way- and everyone knows what that means- back off, and consider whether you are doing something wrong, or you need to use less weight, or maybe it’s just not the exercise for you. There’s some things that just hurt for different people, so be careful.
Neely Quinn: So you were doing five sets of four?
Paige Claassen: Yes. Five sets of four, two minute rests in between, twice a week, thirty three pounds.
Neely Quinn: And you kept the weight the same for each set, and then you upped it every weakfish?
Paige Claassen: Yes. I would keep it the same for each set, and in the beginning, I would be able to do four good pull-ups, and by the end it would get down to three or maybe three and a half.
Neely Quinn: Okay. Cool. And then for TRX, can you explain the same thing?
Paige Claassen: Well the great thing about TRX is that you are using your own bodyweight. I really like it because I feel like it’s hard to get hurt, because you are using your own bodyweight, and it’s kind of resistance training. It’s just the distance you stand from the center of where the device hangs, and again, look this up online. The harder things get so that you can just back up a little bit each time, and you can really quickly feel how difficult something is, because you are just using your own body resistance.
Paige Claassen: With the Is Ys and Ts, there was no science to it. I would just stand at the distance that felt difficult, but as though I could do enough. In the beginning I was doing three sets, ten reps of each- the I, the Y, the T. Ten of each of those. But I was getting the bad headaches. So I went to my physiotherapist, and she was like “No, no, no. You’re doing these wrong. If you’re doing these right, you should only be able to six of them at a time”. So you should be doing them really slowly, with a lot of control. Your core can’t sag at all- then I would only do six at a time. So three sets, six reps.
Neely Quinn: Two minutes rest?
Paige Claassen: Yup. And I think also that depends- if you can do the Is Ys and Ts all together, or if you need to have rest in between. For me, I needed rest in between each of those, because I’m not very strong. I’ve not done a lot of strength training. I just had to take more rest than was recommended, and that’s okay.
Neely Quinn: So what was happening? I think this is important to talk about, your tension headaches. What was happening, I think, is you were doing the Is Ys and Ts, and you were using your neck muscles a lot to compensate, right?
Paige Claassen: Yup, exactly. I’d pull with my neck, and I do that with core exercises I’m learning. I use my neck instead of my core, which is crazy that you’d use your neck to compensate. It’s not a very strong part of your body to help out, but unfortunately, that is what happens. So don’t be afraid to ask a trainer in the gym, or whoever it is, to help yo make sure your form is right. You can think that you are dong something really well, and until an expert tells you you’re not, you’re just going to go about doing it the wrong way.
Neely Quinn: Right, and even if you absolutely don’t have access to a trainer, you can take a video of yourself and compare it to videos online that are done by a trainer.
Paige Claassen: Right.
Neely Quinn: And that should be eliminating too.
Paige Claassen: Yeah, that’s a good call.
Neely Quinn: The toe hooks. Can we just talk about how you trained those for a sec?
Paige Claassen: Yup. So I used the Moonboard, but it definitely doesn’t have to be a Moonbard. Any climbing wall, a home wall is better because it has an edge- like wherever the wood ends. I would just grab a jug, and then hook my toes onto the edge of the wall, and just walk them up and down. I mean, you can only do like a few, before you fall off, if you’re not very good at toe hooks like me [laughs]. I could only do a couple. And then you switch to the other side. You can also do it in the gym. You can find holds, like find underclings that you can toe hook, and hook your toe. It’s better if your other foot is also on a hold. You kind of have to play around and find that balance, where it starts to click, and then walk your hands around the wall, with your toe hooked in the same place.
A lot of times for different projects, you really can make up exercises. Break down what you need to accomplish your project, what your weaknesses are, what’s holding you back, and then think “How can I fill in these gaps?”. It might not be always finding exercises online that other people have done. Sometimes you can really come up with your own system that works- that’s what I did with toe hooks. I mean, I’m sure people have trained toe hooks before, but I didn’t find that information anywhere online.
Neely Quinn: And you knew you had to train toe hooks beaus of the videos that you saw?
Paige Claassen: No, I just knew that with roof climbing, you’re for sure gonna have to do toe hooks. I actually expected Odin’s Eye to be horizontal in the roof, and I was relieved that it wasn’t when I arrived. But I just was pretty sure that I was going to need to do toe hooks, and it’s probably my number one weakness. I really was not able to do them before, so I’m glad I worked on them.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, obviously it worked. How many times a week would you do those?
Paige Claassen: Probably two, because I would only really climb on the home wall about two days a week, and then I’d try to get outside another day or two during the week, maybe go to the bigger gym one day. Again, if it’s something new, you don’t want to overdo it, but I think two times a week is a good start. Then once you are really used to something, then you can start doing it more, but start with twice a week.
Neely Quinn: Cool. The next thing I want to talk to you about is- how should I say this. Your stoicism plays a role in climbing, and projecting, and ultimately sending. One of the things that I think is most notable about you is- for instance, your ankle and foot were extremely painful on the walks down and up, to the point where you were using ski poles to go up and down.
Paige Claassen: No they’re trekking poles, Neely. Those are actually for hiking. They’re for old people to hike, and I’m now a trekking pole user. I’m going to use them all the time, they’re amazing.
Neely Quinn: I know, and honestly for the first time, you really turned me onto them, because obviously I was the one who needed them. I was the one falling down the mountain all the time [laughs].
Paige Claassen: But they make a big difference- it really saves your knees, and I think that’s something that all of us are going to struggle with, is our knees. But yeah, my ankle is recovered from my injury, it’s really stable and it healed well, but it’s still very painful to walk. Oddly climbing doesn’t hurt very much, but walking is super painful, even if it’s on flat ground. So yeah, at the end of the day, I’d really be struggling, especially if we did more than one day on. And this isn’t a very long hike- it’s a fifteen minute hike. It’s up a mud hill, so it is kind of unstable, but the other day I even made Arjan come pick me up at the trail head, which is like four hundred yards from the car. I was like “It hurts so bad, I can’t walk anymore”, so he came and picked me up. But yeah, that was kind of a problem.
Neely Quinn: The point I wanted to make was just how you deal with it. You’ve almost never complained about it. I would ask you, and then you would say “Yes it hurts a lot”, but you’re not a complainer. I think that this really lends itself to you on routes, because the same thing. Even the day that you sent, half the holds on your route were soaking wet. Most people would go up a route like that and be like “Screw this, lower me”, but you were just like whatever.
Paige Claassen: Well as far as the wetness goes, that how it was originally. A few days before it was super wet, and I wouldn’t even get on, because I didn’t want to ruin my confidence, and I knew that I would get frustrated, so I just decided to not even get on the route. That was the day that our friend Tom sent Odin’s Eye- awful conditions. It was kind of like the conditions I sent in. So I knew that it was possible. It’s kind of like when someone else does something, then you know you can’t complain. Back in the day, the only time I said something was reachy, and then I came home and looked it up and Lynn Hill had done it. I have a foot of height on her, so I knew that it wasn’t reachy, I just didn’t have enough power. Complaining doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s only putting negativity in your mind.
We listened to your interview with Adam Ondra the other day. He said something about how if you have negative thoughts, that will start to become your reality. And it’s true. If you are constantly thinking about negative things, life is going to feel more negative. If you try not to dwell on those things, if they’re out of your control, what’s the point of complaining about them or dwelling on them? If there’s something you can do about that, then take the steps to make it better. For my ankle, icing it when I got home helped. It made it feel better. Using the walking sticks helped. Just being careful and knowing my limits helped. But complaining was not going to help me and it’s not going to make the people around me happy, so there’s just not really a lot of point in complaining.
Neely Quinn: You even said that Arjan, your husband, asked if he could get on Odin’s Eye. You told him “Yes, you can, but only if you don’t complain about how wet it is, or say anything negative about it”. Can you tell me why you said that?
Paige Claassen: We are all very different climbers. Arjan is a very talented climber and he is very strong, but I think that like many climbers, he can get frustrated easily when things don’t feel how he wants them to feel. So I was like “If you get on this route that I am close to doing, and I worked so hard to keep my confidence up, you can’t get frustrated or have these negative thoughts around it. Also it’s wet all the time, I know it’s wet, I don’t need to hear that it’s wet, and I’m trying in my head to convince myself that it’s dry enough”. So he went up right before I sent, and the whole time he was like “Oh wow, yeah, it’s not that bad, it’s pretty good, this is awesome, this is really cool”.
And then I sent, and he went up again, and he was like “Oh my god, it’s so wet, blah blah blah”. I knew that he was just faking it the try before, because I told him he had to be positive. But it worked! I don’t want to hear that the conditions are bad before I try my hardest, because it’s not going to help. It’s not going to change how wet the holds are. You either try hard and deal with it, or don’t climb on it for the day. I kind of realized that it might not be dry again, so you just need to try hard, and it is possible.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. You just said that you didn’t want him to say those negative things because it would ruin all the hard work you put into keeping yourself confident on it. Can you tell me, is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that helped keep your confidence up?
Paige Claassen: There’s one thing, and it’s that I occasionally had solo dance parties underneath the route without you guys.
When you and Seth were still warming up, if I would go up to the base of Odin’s Eye and no one was up there, I would turn my go-to song on and sing out loud and do a little dance part by myself, and it would just make me happy. I think that’s what you need to climb well. You need to be happy and remember that climb is for fun. There is no other purpose of climbing, it’s only for fun. If you’re not having fun, then there is really no point. I just needed to have fun and keep things light. I always have songs stuck in my head, and I like to sing out loud even though I am a terrible singer. Fortunately Arjan sings with me, or occasionally other people will sing with me, which is very kind of them. It just keeps things fun, and makes me remember that I’m here because I want to be here, and because I love rock climbing, and I’m in a cool spot. Even if I don’t do this route, I have an awesome life, and I get to travel to cool places and go climbing, and there is this whole big world out there besides rock climbing. It kind of puts things in perspective. Keep it light.
Neely Quinn: I didn’t know you were doing that. You were singing out loud over there? How did we not hear you?
Paige Claassen: Well it was quiet, because stick to the pact. You can’t play your radio at the crag, because that affects other users. It’s very disrespectful to play music. But if there is no one there and you are playing it very quietly, no one can hear, and it’s just for a moment, then it’s okay.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. Was Adam up the hill from you doing the same thing?
Paige Claassen: Yeah I’m sure it’s his secret beta. No, Adam was not there. No one was up there. I wouldn’t just break it down in front of people. It’s a private dance party.
Neely Quinn: A very personal thing.
Paige Claassen: Yeah! But for real. I did that and it helped.
Neely Quinn: That’s cool. That’s a good reminder for all of us, because there have been plenty of times when I’ve had projects, and you just sit at the base of the climb, and you get nervous, then you get more nervous, then you somehow make yourself start climbing. But you’re right, I think if you had some trigger, which for you is a song, to get you out of that space, it’s probably very relaxing for your whole body and your mind.
Paige Claassen: Yeah it helps. I don’t really like having a routine before I get on a climb, and with Odin’s there was a routine. You have to jug up, dry off the holds, come down, rest, and then change into shorts, tape your kneepads on, and it was just too much of a process. It gives you a lot of time to think about all these things that need to be in place. I kind of needed to break that up. It’s normally not appropriate to pal music, but you can just sing out loud, you know? As beautiful or as terrible as it is, just find a song. You can hum to yourself. Sometimes I sing when I’m climbing, just to myself. Now people are going to start thinking that I’m a crazy person, but it’s fun.
Neely Quinn: What was the go-to song?
Paige Claassen: It was “Save Tonight”, by Eagle Eye Cherry. But once I was singing “Never Smile at a Crocodile” from Peter Pan, I don’t know where that came from. I was singing Shania Twain one day- I don’t listen to Shania Twain, I don’t know where that came from. Whatever it is that makes you laugh, it’ll work.
Neely Quinn: Great. Super.
Paige Claassen: Yeah.
Neely Quinn: Is there anything else you want to talk about, about the send? Do you feel proud of yourself? Does this change anything for you?
Paige Claassen: Yeah, I feel really proud of myself. I think often times in climbing our achievements are very fleeting, always like “Oh well I should have done it sooner”, or whatever it is. This time I just feel really excited. I’m proud of myself for the work that I put in, for keeping my head in the right place, and for climbing a route that is a style that is not what I’m used to, and not really what I’m good at. I’m just really excited, and… what was the other thing?
Neely Quinn: What did I say? What’s next? No- does this change anything for you?
Paige Claassen: Oh. No, it doesn’t change anything. I’m still going to climb on the things that inspire me because they look cool, they have a bit of history, and they’re in a cool spot, and the region has some good food to eat. That’s an important pre-qualifier for me. But no. I’m still going to go out rock climbing on things that make me excited to rock climb, and share time with my friends. That’s the whole point.
Neely Quinn: And what is next? Where do you go now, and what are your goals after this?
Paige Claassen: So I have like ten more days here, and I don’t think I am going to start another big project. I just want to climb- there’s so many cool routes here, and they’re still plenty hard. I want to do some slightly easier fun things, and then I’m going to Mallorca for two weeks to do a girl’s trip with La Sportiva, with Emily and Margo. That will be super fun. Then I go back to South Africa, and we have grape harvest season- that’s probably something people don’t really know about. For two months out of the year, there is absolutely no climbing, and we harvest and pack grapes. It’s like fourteen to sixteen hour work days, six days a week, for two months. It’s really, really hard, but it’s really rewarding. It’s a good break from climbing, and just a reminder that there are other things going on out there in the world.
That’s November/December, and then I definitely have some goals for the beginning of 2018, more stateside, which is exciting. I’ve decided to do some more climbing in the US, because it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to work on projects there.
Neely Quinn: Do you want to talk about what those are?
Paige Claassen: Um, yeah, they’re not secret. I want to do a route at the VRG, and Smith Rock. Things I’ve tried before- well, one I’ve tried before, and come away empty handed- Necessary Evil. Then at Smith Rock, I want to try The Optimist, which is Beth’s route that she established. I think it’s only been repeated by Tommy and Sonnie Trotter. I’m not sure, I could be wrong.
Neely Quinn: How hard is that?
Paige Claassen: It’s 14b, but it looks pretty- I think I might need to learn some new skills, some crack climbing skills. I think it’s mostly like, tiny pin scar, so hopefully I can do that.
Neely Quinn: Whoa.
Paige Claassen: But yeah, I love Smith, so any excuse to get back there is a good one.
Neely Quinn: There were a couple of random questions that I had for you. One of them was about your shoes- you wore two different shoes on the route when you sent. Can you talk about that?
Paige Claassen: Oh yeah, so I wore a La Sportiva Genius on my left foot, and a Skwama on my right foot. That was because the Genius has no-edge technology, and for the crux, you have a really bad smear that you are kneebarring off of, and it’s pretty desperate. The no-edge is perfect for smearing, especially when it’s on that kind of rock that is really fine grain. And then the Skwama is my favorite toe hooking shoe, because the toe hooking rubber comes a lot further up the shoe and there aren’t any laces in the way. I randomly had both those shoes with me. I tried not to go overboard with my shoes on this trip, but I had those two, so I was like “I’ll just wear one of each, because that suits the crux perfectly”, and it worked really well. So yeah. That was the two shoe thing. It’s the trend right now, to wear two different shoes, I guess.
Neely Quinn: Seriously- Ondra did it, you did it, both in Flatanger. Do you think it’s something about Flatanger.
Paige Claassen: No, I’ve done it before. If there is one specific foot that you struggle with, like maybe you need an edging shoe, but the whole route doesn’t really require an edging shoe, then you can choose a soft shoe on one foot and an edging shoe on another foot. It’s just if you are being extra nerdy about something and really digging down into the details.
Neely Quinn: Well it obviously worked better for you than what you were doing in the beginning.
Paige Claassen: I think wearing two shoes of either one would have worked just fine, but since I had both of them I was like, I’ll just take the best of both worlds.
Neely Quinn: The other thing I wanted to ask you about was trash. So you said in your Instagram post after you sent, that the trash was abhorrent in Flatanger. Do you want to talk about that?
Paige Claassen: Yeah. So it’s not really Flatanger specifically, but up there, it’s a talus field at the base. It’s all these huge boulders, and when you look underneath, there is some regular trash. Plastic bottles, trash, trash, which is never acceptable. But there’s also a lot of organic trash- banana peels, pistachio shells, egg shells. That is so not acceptable to chuck stuff under rocks, because it takes forever to decompose. Yes it’s organic, but that’s if you bury it in the ground, and it rains, and it takes many, many years to decompose. Chucked underneath some boulders where everyone is climbing, it’s so unsightly. So just know that it’s not okay to chuck organic or compostable trash at the base of the crag where lots of people are. Just pack it out, and dispose of it as home, whether you compost it or throw it in the trash.
Then little things- climber tape, the tape we wrap around our fingers. That stuff is everywhere. Little things, like the corners of wrappers from snacks we eat. Those little things add up, and are not cool at the cliff. Just be aware, and pack out your trash. It’s something we are all guilty of. The other day I was eating an apple at the base of the crag, and I set the core down in a specific spot to remember, and then I didn’t. I had to go back and get it. We are all guilty of it, so just be aware. The only thing that is okay to chuck in a talus field, is a leaf, a stick, or another rock- but don’t throw another rock.
But trash is never appropriate. The climbing community really needs to improve on that. It’s not acceptable in any area.
Neely Quinn: Yeah.
Paige Claassen: Let’s all shape up together.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, come on people! Including me and you.
Paige Claassen: And it’s easy, if at the end of the day, you have a little trash bag for yourself, if you see trash around just pick it up. Leave the crag a little bit cleaner than when you started. That goes a long way. If we al just picked up a little bit, our crags would be beautiful and no trash.
Neely Quinn: You know what’s super convenient for this to have on hand, which I’ve noticed as a dog owner, is dog poop bags. They’re super small, they fit in your pack, and you can use them as your own trash bag, and your own toilet paper stuff too.
Paige Claassen: Yeah that’s perfect. Just take a little bag with you, it’ll make the world a better place.
Neely Quinn: Okay I want to end of positive note here, so tell me about some of the cool things that you have been cooking and baking for yourself.
Paige Claassen: Okay well yesterday we made reindeer stew- that is the traditional dish here. We didn’t know what all of the ingredients were in the grocery store, but anytime someone was like “Well what are you making?” and you said “Reindeer stew”, they were like “Oh yes yes yes, you’ll need this”. But there aren’t really any restaurants around, so we just decided to make it. It was delicious- it has brown cheese in it, which is also the traditional thing here. It’s kind of weird, it’s like sweet caramel cheese, I’m not that into it. But in the stew it was great. And I need to make banana bread, because I have a bunch of overripe bananas, and I want to make those great brownies again.
Neely Quinn: Mmm.
Paige Claassen: And one day we took french toast to the crag and it was awesome. And we made waffles the other day. I’m all for a sweet breakfast.
Neely Quinn: Wait- I saw- did you make waffles on those rackets that you got?
Paige Claassen: No, I just put the waffles there after they cooked, so the steam doesn’t make the bottom soggy.
Neely Quinn: Oh, okay.
Paige Claassen: You have to really hone in on your methods.
Neely Quinn: Yeah I guess so, I was so confused. I was like “Did they put that thing in the oven, or how is that working?”.
Paige Claassen: No, there is actually a hidden waffle machine in this place.
Neely Quinn: Oh, of course there is.
Paige Claassen: Take advantage of that.
Neely Quinn: So you haven’t been starving?
Paige Claassen: No, I haven’t been starving.
Neely Quinn: But just to revisit quickly about the changes you made that you think made a difference in your strength and power. You said that you are eating a lot more protein- can you just talk about that for a minute?
Paige Claassen: Yeah, so I’m probably going to get in trouble with all of the activists out there. I’ve been eating fish or meat twice a day here, because it’s what’s available. Smoked salmon is really cheap here and readily available, so it’s an easy thing to take to the crag. I’ve been having that for lunch every day, and then normally eating meat for dinner. I can really notice a difference- I’m recovering so much better, and I’ve never experienced that before. It’s not something that I do regularly, but on a trip it might become a good way to recover when that becomes a crucial component.
Neely Quinn: And then normally were you eating it once a day?
Paige Claassen: Normally, once a day or once every two days. It depends where we are. If we are in South Africa, it’s really easy to get really good meat in a sustainable way. You can eat meat every night. Before in the States, to get good meat you have to buy it at Whole Foods and it’s expensive, I’d probably have it twice a week or something. It just depends where you are at and what’s locally available.
Neely Quinn: Cool, well I think that’s all I have for you.
Paige Claassen: Cool, that was fun.
Neely Quinn: I appreciate you being so candid and teaching us a lot about the process. It’s been cool to follow you- obviously it was really cool to watch you on this.
Paige Claassen: Actually, I was like “Good thing I sent”, because you titled that second podcast “How to Successfully Project”-
[laughs] I know!
Paige Claassen: I was like “I havent even successfully done it!”, but now I feel okay about it.
Neely Quinn: Yeah yeah, me too.
Paige Claassen: So thanks for setting me up.
Neely Quinn: Thanks for letting us come with you, and any time you need a partner, just let me know.
Paige Claassen: Totally.
Neely Quinn: I hope you have fun for the rest of the time you are there.
Paige Claassen: Yeah, I’m gonna go do some fun stuff. And I still have to go jump into a fjord- my reward jump.
Neely Quinn: Is that what it is?
Paige Claassen: Yup.
Neely Quinn: Okay, thanks again, and I’ll talk to you soon.
Paige Claassen: Thanks Neely! Bye.
Neely Quinn: Bye.
Alright, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Paige Claassen. You can find her on social media, on Instagram and Facebook at Paige Claassen- that’s C-L-A-A-S-S-E-N. And we didn’t talk about it in this interview, but she has a non-profit organization that benefits school children in Southern Africa. She is doing really great things, and if you want to check it out you can go to SAeducationfund.org. And let’s see. Lot’s of sending going on in Flatanger. After Adam Ondra sent Silence, our friend Tom Moulin sent Odin’s Eye- he was working on it with Paige. Then our friend Clay sent his 8b over there, and then Paige sent, and they’ve just been sending since then. It’s cool, it’s really cool to watch people succeed like that.
So coming up on the podcast, I have Dr. Jared Vagy. He’s been on the show before- he’s a physical therapist and he just wrote a new book all about injuries, preventing them, and treating them. We are going to talk about that, and I’m also going to be talking to Charlie Manganello, who is the right hand man of Steve Bechtel, of Climb Strong and Elemental Fitness in Lander, Wyoming. We are also doing a training clinic for climbers in Salt Lake City on something like October 27th-30th of this year. Next month we are going to be doing a clinic in Salt Lake, and if you want to check that out go to climbstrong.com. I think there is still room in it if you want to sign up.
Other than that, if you want any help with your training right now, you can go to trainingbeta.com and you can find our bouldering program, our route training program, and both of those are three days week of training. We have all of your sets, your reps, your drills, your shoulder recovery stuff on there ,all written out very clearly for you to follow. It’s about $15 a month, so super affordable, and it was written by Kris Peters. He is a climbing trainer who has worked with a ton of climbers. Again, trainingbeta.com, and that helps support this podcast and everything we do here at TrainingBeta. I really appreciate your support, and thanks for following along on this journey to Norway. Hopefully I’ll take a lot more journeys from here on out, because I think it was fun and benefitted everybody. Thanks again and I’ll talk to you soon.