• Ask Sean McColl

    Ask Sean McColl

    World Champion Climber. Future Olympian. Canadian.

ask “Sean McColl”

Thanks for all the questions, keep them coming! Make sure you read the “FAQ” (Frequently Asked Questions) which can be found here. Note: I’ve limited the number of comments per page to avoid having to scroll very far down the page. The newest question that was answered will be at the bottom. You can always find older questions by clicking “older comments”

Comments (1914)

  • Avatar

    Hans Montenegro

    |

    Hi Sean,
    thaks again for all yours answers.
    I was wandering if you can share your methodes for work a boulder problem?
    how do you read it? what do you search and what do you do?

    What is the different outside and in a competition?
    Can you share tthe methode competitoin and the methode outside to work a hard problem? (redpoint)

    thanks.
    Hans

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

      |

      When I go to work a boulder problem outside or inside, I start by anazlyzing what I’m going to try on my first try. If I can, I get all the beta I can so I don’t have to do as much thinking or looking. For outdoors, sometimes it’s just a matter of trying the moves and figuring it out. While competing, there’s only so many moves that can be set, and I’ve climbed on so many moves by now, it’s hard to show me a move that I haven’t tried before. I look for heel hooks, or a few different methods so if I get stuck, I’ll have another method that I can try quickly as well.

      Good rests in between tries is also important, even more important outdoors as you don’t have a time constraint usually.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Cody

    |

    Sean, I was curious of your height, weight, and ape index. I find it interesting knowing the different stats of extreme climbers.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

      |

      I am 5″6 1/2, 130 lbs and +2″ ape. In metric is 169cm, 59kg, with +5cm.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Ellis

    |

    Hello Sean, I recently commented on your post regarding the French National Route Training Camp you attended and I wondered if you had a moment to answer a few additional related questions. I really like the idea of the “mangrove tree” route layout and am hoping to put on a similar training camp in a few months. Sorry for the long winded comment-

    -In terms of the rests at the halfway point for the routes, how good were the jugs you were given to rest on? Were the climbers able to essentially fully recover before trying to top sections of the routes?

    -Approximately how many moves would you say each half of the routes were? From looking at the pictures I was estimating 20-30 moves for each half section, but it is somewhat difficult to tell with the high volume of holds present on the wall.

    -during the first day when the climbers ran the routes, how was this organized? Did the climbers “work” the routes, falling multiple times, trying different sections, etc. or did the climbers lower and switch after one fall on the route? Was their a standardized rest period between attempts or was it simply as long as it took the rest of the climbers to try the route(s)? Also, did you attempt a different link up each time or try the same bottom/top several times before trying a new combination?

    Please feel free to email me if you would prefer, and again thank you for taking the time to consider my questions.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

      |

      The resting points half way up were more or less the biggest rests imaginable. The holds were full jugs, for the women, it was a double ring. The climbers could recover to the maximum of the individual climber. Because everyone on the French team is very good at this, they would leave at more or less 100%.

      About the moves, some were more direct than other, but still remained in the 20-30 for the bottom part and 15-25 for the second part.

      The climbers were supposed to come to the ground after each fall. No standardized time for each of the route, it was up to the climbers to decide when they wanted to climb. Remember we were doing this drill “twice” for 3.5 hours. For all the different variations, it was up to the climbers. The coaches wrote little comments on what the routes were like, but we liked to come up with our own combinations.

      Personally, I tried as many different combinations as I could at the beginning to make sure I tried every move. I didn’t care if I fell at the top, just that I was doing hard moves, and lots of them.

      I hope this responded to your questions!

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Ellis

        |

        Thank you for the reply, very helpful indeed!

        Reply

  • Avatar

    Camille

    |

    Hey Sean! Good job in the TDB Nationals this weekend. It was a pleasure to watch you climb. I was wondering at what age did you start climbing? It was really impressive to see that all the boulders looked almost too easy for you. Keep climbing, because you are an inspiration for all the young canadian climbers 🙂

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

      |

      I started climbing at 10 years old. My family used to go to a tennis club that got shut down. We looked around and found the local climbing gym. We bought year long passes, and then it just kinda caught on for me. I started climbing with my family and all of them climb to this day.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Hans Montenegro

    |

    Hi Sean, I hope you are ok.
    I was wondering what is the best attitude for climb. For example, sometimes I become angry and I have more power but I can make some mistakes. In the other hand, when I am calm I climb efficient but I cannot do the big moves or dynos, etc.
    Do you have any advice? What is the best attitude to get and how to learn it?
    Thanks so much.
    And congratulations for the 1th place in the Canadian Bouldering Championships

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

      |

      I’m doing good, the jet lag isn’t so bad this time coming from NA. I’m going to assume you’re talking about competitions for your questions. Overall, you have to find a balance and the best competitors can switch between the two instantly. You have to learn how to get psyched up to do the opening dyno and finish with the technical slab. It comes down to training. If you can practice all these different elements together, then it doesn’t seem weird to do it in competition. Everything is about practice, practice, practice.

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Hans Montenegro

        |

        It s cool to kwno that you had a good fligth.
        Do you have special training for dynimics moves.( not dynos, but dynimics)
        Thanks

        Reply

        • Avatar

          Sean McColl

          |

          Practice, practice practice I think. When you find that you can hit the holds well and you’re not sticking, then this comes down to finger strength. For dynamic moves, you’ll just get the feeling for it after training for a while. I feel good in dynamic moves probably because I’m a shorter climber. For taller climbers, they usually don’t have this problem as their feet stay on the footholds more often.

          Reply

  • Avatar

    Hans Montenegro

    |

    Hi Sean, Thanks for all answers.
    I want to aske two questions.
    1. how is a week for you? (time, training days and rest days, friends, reading, etc)
    2. How do you spend your free time?
    Thanks
    Hans

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

      |

      I’ve actually already answered the first question in another post so I’ll briefly summarize it again. I train more or less 4 days a week and around 12 hours a week. Free time is spent making movies, talking to sponsors, planning trips, booking flights, booking trains, planning my month and finally planning my year!

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Eric

    |

    Hey Sean,
    I was watching Sasha climb in a video and I noticed she seems to re-position her hands a few times (2 to 3). I was wondering why she did this?

    One explanation is that she is re-positioning her hands to get a better grip on the hold but this seems ineffective as it takes up time and energy to re-grab everything.

    I had this crazy idea that she re-grabs the hold so that it causes a pumping action in her hands so that it could circulate fresh blood into her arms.

    Here’s a link to the video, http://vimeo.com/41085872
    Any ideas?
    Thanks

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

      |

      You’ll have to ask Sasha about this one although I’ve never heard of anyone re-gripping the hold to accelerate blood flow. I would guess she’s grabbing it a few times to get a really good feel for the hold and know she’ll be able to pull 100% for the next move. It might also be cold while she’s climber, and she might be getting numb fingers…

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Yannick G.

    |

    Yo man,
    I just have a question about the shoes “la sportiva Python” and “la sportiva Solution” I’ve been climbing for 2 months with the Pythons, since then I totally dropped my “five ten” and I wonder what’s the difference in your opinion between the Python and the Solution? I never climbed with this shoes but I can see around me that a lot of people climb with with it. Is the Solution stiffer / softer, more / less precise, …?

    PS: one last question, what do you think about the “Short Realization” from Mammut? Because I work in a Mountain/Climbing shop, and we hesitate to order it.

    thanks

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

      |

      Well I climb almost exclusively in the Python and Solutions and I love them. I sometimes wear Muira VS as well. I find that the solutions are the best at doing everything. They are my go-to shoes when I need something done. I find the rubber on them awesome and them fit my feet perfectly. The only negative point I’ve heard from fellow climbers is that the heel cup sometimes doesn’t fit their foot. There is indeed a very small air bubble below your heel sometimes which I find perfectly fine. I’ve never had a problem heel hooking with them either. The python is very similar to the solution but it’s a lot softer and the heel is more snug on your foot. As the python’s get more and more used, they’re going to become softer and softer which is sometimes not so good if you really need to pull with your toe. On the opposite side, climbing in Fontainebleau with pythons was mythical! I find with both those, I can cover all my bases!

      I wear the Realization Shorts from Mammut exclusively now because I’m too lazy to put on a harness. I find them extremely comfortable and I even love competing in them. They’re excellent for single pitch climbing and gym climbing. If you’re going to be multi-pitching, the 2 gear loops and smaller tie in points are going to hurt you. They’re designed for competition and single pitch outdoor climbing! As I said, I love them and would highly recommend them.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    M

    |

    Hi Sean ! I’ve been climbing for 2 years now. My training schedule is 3 months rope climbing, 2 months boulder climbing and repeating this again. I am able to do V6/V7 boulders. Now i am aiming to become stronger for V9/V10 boulders. Can you give some kind of training regime adout boulder training.I am able to go to gym 3 times a week for 3 hours.
    Thanks 🙂

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

      |

      Well for starters, you’re going to the gym enough, as I trained 3 days a week for 3 hours for years before I stepped it up a notch. I might suggest to do hit strip workouts, or campus board workouts. If you’re climbing at the V6/7 level, then your fingers should be able to take the force. I would suggest doing an hour of campus board workout after a general 20-30 minute warm-up. To finish off your session, I feel the best thing to do is condition. I would also recommend only doing campus board once a week as it’s pretty hard on your fingers and muscles. This will get your fingers a lot stronger and you’ll be able to grab those smaller holds that are generally on harder problems. Let me know how it works out! Good luck.

      Reply

      • Avatar

        M

        |

        Thank you for answer Sean 🙂 By now i’ve been avoiding campus board, because i was afraid of injuries. Can you recommend me some campus board training, what kind of exercises to do on it? And besides good warm up, are there any other useful things to do to for avoiding injuries ?

        PS: in days when you have to train but you feel weak, not motivated and so on, what do you do: not training at all and resting or doing very easy things but going to gym ?
        Thanks 🙂

        Reply

        • Avatar

          Sean McColl

          |

          Warm-up is key. When my fingers are sore, I double my warm-up… Some good campus board training is.
          1) Straight up and down.
          2) Skip one rung, up and down.
          3) Keep bumping one hand higher and higher, then back down. Swap hands.
          4) Double Ups (both hands up one rung at the same time)
          5) Off-Set Double Ups (both hands up one rung at the same time, but one hand is higher than the other)
          6) Get creative!

          I hope it helps. As for motivation, I find it’s key to try and train with someone else who can be motivated. Therefore on the days you’re no so motivated, they can try to pull you up. When they’re feeling down, you’ll be doing them the favour. It’s a great circle! Good luck with the training!

          Reply

  • Avatar

    Masoud

    |

    Dear Sean,

    First of all, I truly appreciate your generosity regarding the dissemination of your climbing knowledge.
    I just wanted to ask you to guide me with the use of supplements. Which ones are good to be taken? Your idea about Creatine?
    I would be really grateful for all your help.
    Regards,

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

      |

      I am sorry to say that I have no knowledge of supplements that you’re talking about. I don’t take extra vitamins, I don’t use supplements and I’ve never tried Creatine. I vaguely know about it, but I’m the wrong person to ask. I tried to eat a balanced diet with a few yummy things to look forward to. I tried to make sure I have enough energy for training, and during the competitions, I end up eating a lot of carbs. I drink lots of water, which I find is pretty key as well. I hope you find what you’re looking for. Good luck.

      Reply

Leave a comment