Last weekend I hopped on another plane and headed West to instruct a PCI clinic at Mesa Rim Climbing Center in San Diego. This was my first time being involved in one of these events, so I was excited to see what they are all about. While the PCI (Professional Climbers International) has been around for a while, they have only started to offer youth and adult clinics in the past year. (For more info about the PCI visit www.proclimbers.com). Some of my friends had worked as instructors at a few of the first clinics, so I was happy for the opportunity to test out my own teaching skills at one of these events.
When I arrived in San Diego, I met up with Kevin Jorgeson (PCI president) and fellow instructors Daniel Woods and Ethan Pringle. We went straight to the host facility, Mesa Rim Climbing Center. The gym is relatively new, and I hadn’t heard too much about it before arriving there. I was very impressed by the facility, which has a great mix of route climbing and bouldering terrain. The clinic stations had already been set up in the bouldering area by Kevin, and we spent the first day going through them ourselves and talking about how to better teach each highlighted aspect of climbing technique. This was very interesting, because it really forced me to analyze my own climbing style. I quickly learned that my climbing style has become much more powerful than it used to be, and when doing moves that are below my limit, I often choose a powerful approach (such as climbing square to the wall) instead of using a more efficient technique. For me, that was pretty neat to realize. In a way, I was a little bummed that my technique might not be as stellar as I thought it was, but another part of me was pleased that my power has improved ;)
The first clinic was held on Saturday and about 18 participants signed up. After warming up, the climbers were split up into groups of similar ability and then rotated through three different stations. I taught the wave of extension station in the morning, and it was an interesting challenge. I was essentially teaching people how to drop knee in the most efficient manner possible. This was the station that I had basically failed on when I went through the stations myself. The terrain was relatively steep, and when asked to start on two different hands with both feet on and do one move upwards, I found it most natural to stay square to the wall instead of dropping my knee. It took a long time for us to tweak the feet and hands in a way that forced me to use a drop knee instead of remaining square to the wall. It was a good learning experience that I tried to incorporate into my teaching.
The morning went well and I felt that for the most part I was able to help people refine their technique. After a lunch break, participants cycled through three new stations. My station in the afternoon was the pogo station. This was also a good learning experience for me, because just a little more than a year ago, I could personally not execute a good pogo. After working on my dynamic climbing ability, I have improved, but instructing the station forced me to look at the reasons I sometimes still struggle with dynamic moves. This station was fun to teach, because many of the participants had never tried a pogo. After almost 6 hours of climbing, everyone was pretty beat at the end of the day, myself included. Sunday morning I had to drink some extra coffee to rally, because we repeated the clinic for a new group of 24 adults and children.
Teaching this clinic was a great learning opportunity, despite the huge amount of mental effort it required. Teaching climbing required me to take a close look at my own climbing, and I realized once again, as I do so often, that I still have lots to learn. Thanks to everyone who came out to participate in the clinic and thanks to Mesa Rim Climbing Center for being such gracious hosts! If you’re ever in the San Diego area, go check out the facility—you won’t be disappointed.