An Insider’s Review of Climbology

An Insider’s Review of Climbology

Climbology by Craig Berman is one of the newest offerings from Sharp End Books, and I am

inside it. While I wanted to be clear up front that I know the author quite well and have even been featured in a few pages of the book, my approach in reviewing Craig’s guide was to get the book’s concepts inside me, to pick a few examples, try them on, and report on my findings. Craig’s unique and philosophical training guide is chock-full of concepts and principles to approach climbing more efficiently and positively. I am grateful to be included in the “Cliff Notes” section of Climbology, where I demonstrate some of Craig’s concepts at The Refuge with Craig and videographer Miguel Villegas. During this short demonstration, I focused on effectively and purposefully moving my body on the wall. I realized that climbing can improve in minutes when approached correctly and with the right people.

mirian borgstorm  outdoor climbing

Craig Berman is a local legend in the Vegas community, developing countless blocks that display his flowy and dance-like movements. Besides thirty-plus years of rock climbing, Craig has a doctorate in physical therapy and a master's in dance and worked in dance companies such as Cirque Du Soleil and Momix. Craig continuously finds ways to give back to the climbing community by establishing boulders and sharing his wisdom. Of the countless concepts discussed in Climbology, I chose three to delve into—Silent Coaching, Crimps Are Really Pinches/Pinches Are Really Sidepulls, and Mindful Breathing.

The Silent Coaching concept encourages climbers to silently analyze movement in others to better enhance their own movement. This was an extremely eye-opening exercise with the side effect of a happier mindset. As I took a break from obsessing over my beta between burns and silently focused on the movement of other climbers, I not only went through a list of dos and don’ts, but I also recalled lessons I had learned at various stages of my climbing and the excitement that accompanied that growth. Overall, I found myself in a much more relaxed and happy state than I had been prior to this exercise.

The Crimps Are Really Pinches/Pinches Are Really Sidepulls concept involves using new perspectives to find the most efficient and full-body ways of completing each route. This concept teaches climbers that many holds could be viewed and used as other types of holds. An amusing way I’ve found to remind myself of this concept is by telling myself, in Inigo Montoya’s voice, “I do not think that hold means what you think it means,” followed by deciding which type of hold could create the most efficient attempt. Most of the time, my repositioning resulted in more precise placement of digits and more effective body positioning, allowing me to get to the next crimp, I mean pinch, I mean sidepull.

The Mindful Breathing concept teaches climbers to incorporate various types of breathing into their climbing, ranging from forceful breaths for beast mode to yoga breaths for calm states. I struggled with this concept the most, noticing that my tendency to hold my breath during strenuous moves sometimes finds the upper hand. Deliberately changing my breath rate during a recent training board session taught me to be more self-aware and focused. After seeing positive outcomes on plastic, I made a breathing-beta plan of attack for one of my outdoor projects.

Anytime I’m near Craig, I soak in an abundance of climbing wisdom, and his new book is no exception. This training guide focuses on performance and mastering movement, and the concepts/exercises within it can apply to many aspects of life and sport. I saw immediate differences in attitude, performance, and perspective during these sessions and felt psyched upon realizing the countless ways it’s possible to approach climbing. It was challenging and rewarding to try out these three concepts, and I’m looking forward to incorporating the other concepts into my training plan by focusing on two each month. From the inside out, I give this guide a fresh tomato.