In an effort to work my weaknesses, I’ve been examining the disparity between my bouldering ability and my approach to low grade trad routes. I’ve done a few V5s but have yet to lead anything above Hard Severe. Not trying any could factor largely into this, but basically I’m rubbish with trad. Even if you remove the head issues, I just don’t get it on some lever or another.
A few weekends ago I went climbing in the Wye Valley. As luck would have it, my shoulder was bothering me a lot so leading wasn’t in the cards. Instead I spent the day seconding ‘easy’ trad routes. I got up them, but it was much more of a battle than it ought to have been. My partner, over a recent bottle Crozes-Hermitage, pointed out that I tend to climb in a straight line and hardly ever veer off course and that I need to look around for holds more. “Think in 3-D”, was uttered at some point. He is right. In bouldering there is often only one or two ways to climb a problem and after successive failed attempts, the moves usually illuminate themselves and then it's just down to being too weak. With easy trad however, there is usually an abundance of holds. The trick is picking the right ones to use. Also, I agree that for some reason (laziness, lack of spatial awareness, general ineptness) I tend to just go straight up, whereas trad lines often follow features that don’t (American cracks don’t count, just because I don’t like them and it is after all my blog).
My partner who is ‘Mr Average Sized Guy’ himself also said that if a move feels hard for the grade then it is a clue to look around for better holds. Easy for him to say. They're graded for him. If I can’t do a 4c move I think ‘what’s wrong with me, I can’t even climb 4c’ and attempt to pull harder on some minuscule crimp. I suppose you can read all sorts of things into my personality from that, but try to look at it from a short person’s perspective. It has always been hard for me. Yes, there are normally jugs on 4cs, but I often couldn’t reach them and had to do some funky moves to get to them. I am used to 4c regularly being nails. I am used to having to pull really, really hard on 4cs.
I guess the other factor is that I am much happier on crimps than bridging, jamming and all sorts of nonsense that you have to do on trad routes… something to think about though.