Climbing After 30

Posted on 02. Dec, 2010 by in News

This fall I did a short interview with Chuck Fryberger Films about being a climber over the age of 30. Check it out here!

20 Responses to “Climbing After 30”

  1. Chuck Fryberger

    02. Dec, 2010

    Hey Jamie,

    Thanks for your help with the video. I like it a lot. One thing I’m learning about more and more as I grow up and take on more and more responsibilities is how damn hard it is to carve out time and energy for climbing.

    You make the sacrifices and that’s awesome.

  2. a few questions

    02. Dec, 2010

    So I looking at turning the old 30 soon. Any pointers from a training stand point that you are willing to offer up.

    I really like the series but I wish that there were some training specific advice to be found in the vids.

    Do you still climb as often as you use to. I adopted the same idea of no always having to crush the hardest things I can find all day every day. It’s about enjoying the experience
    I don’t climb as now just because I felt that it was good for the body and have had to concentrate on martial arts and other means of tendon strengthening.

    So would love to hear some of your training wisdom for the +30 crew

  3. Ivo

    02. Dec, 2010

    nice interview & a video! cool stuff

  4. seth

    02. Dec, 2010

    thanks for the inspiration Jemerson.

  5. B3

    03. Dec, 2010

    thanks everyone! You didn’t make me look like a total fool, Chuck. Thanks. I tried really hard.

  6. slabdyno

    03. Dec, 2010

    you’re so old

  7. campusman

    03. Dec, 2010

    I am going to turn 30 in almost 5 months..I was climbing harder than ever this summer…I plan on continuing my rampage…because i am the best climber in gl ever, nobody can shut me down there…nobody…not even dw, or cs, nobody.

  8. Davin

    03. Dec, 2010

    In response to “a few questions”, training after 30 is unique challenge. Depending on how much experience you have in climbing already, training can become very specific and understanding weaknesses becomes easier. On the other hand resting becomes more important and recovery longer.

    Of all the 30+ climbers I know in all aspects of the sport, they have all climbed there hardest, proudest, and most physical climbs in their 30s. I too feel that I am climbing better at 30 than when I was younger and stronger, say when I was 25-27.

    Moonclimbing has some good links for training and a good place to start asking questions. Those old Brits are very strong after 30.

  9. few more questions

    05. Dec, 2010


    I climbed for 5 years. Three times a week. Variety of bouldering, gym, sport, trad. I climbed well acoording to some (but it’s never good enough)

    I’ve met guys who are +40 who are bouldering in double digits. I was just wondering specifically that there is anything that changed in the approach to training at that age.

    I like the “kill bill” approach to training that I read. Always looking for training tips, but like always some like to talk about there methods and some folks like to be secretive about there training.

    I fell that cross training becomes very important over 30, even 25. You must find something (besides just yoga) that strengthens tendons yet is no to aggressive.

    Ok I’ll stop cause I could write a million pages on this. I just wish there were places to discuss training without people holding back on info (hence the negative effects of competition climbing and ego cause there is no reason that training info should not be shared readily)

    Let me know if this place is out there.

  10. mikerathke

    05. Dec, 2010

    training suggests you need to get better…

    just climb, eat good food, and sleep good.


  11. ktmt

    05. Dec, 2010

    “few more questions”

    Dave Macleod’s two sites contain good training and technique info:

    You can post questions to Eric Horst (author of many training books on climbing) at

    Alli Rainey writes a good blog in which she freely discusses the internal doubts we all have but, as you say, seldom feel comfortable voicing. She also has an online coaching site

    But, yeah, it would be nice if there was an open training forum to exchange ideas.

  12. peter beal

    07. Dec, 2010

    Just a couple of quick comments on climbing after 30. First, the primary issue for older climbers is lack of free time, something that becomes scarce if one enters the real world of work, family and career as opposed to just climbing, being single and doing a casual job on the side. You cannot waste a minute of climbing time that you have. This is something that most younger climbers simply cannot understand. Most of them will quit before they begin to. The few who persist will find this balancing act very hard to maintain.

    The second issue is motivation. After around 35, you simply begin to see things differently and the game of climbing is seen simply for what it is, one of many games that are out there. Living for climbing becomes psychologically more difficult, especially as most of your age peer group abandons it. So devoting the requisite degree of attention becomes harder

    Age-related physical decline is highly over-rated as a cause of decline in climbing importance. It certainly isn’t a problem at 30.

  13. few more questions

    08. Dec, 2010


    Thanks for the links. Not the biggest fan of horst. I contacted him at some point over the years and his reply was to buy his book. Understand that he’s got to make a living but the question I posed was not in his book. His books do a descent job of the basics but leaves out a great deal of great training tips.

    I’ll check out the other links and see what they have to offer.

    I understand why martial artist do not want to just show anyone their training for fear that the wrong person will be shown something and go off and hurt someone. Hiding training in climbing and not sharing it with everyone to allow them to become stronger could cause someone to get hurt. Granted it is the responsibility of the climber to be within their limits but I think that you get the idea that I’m tryin to express. Understand the comp rats out there need to be secretive for the plastic, but it is an odd thing to me.

    Either way good enjoy the ride!

  14. mb

    09. Dec, 2010

    Not to be rude, but to me climbing past 30 presents no unique challenges and I really don’t understand the point of the video. Sure, you are getting older, but it has been well documented that most men (not sure about women) reach their physical peak in their sport around 30-35. In our sport that seems to be true, as many of the legendary climbers (Wolfgang, Lynn, Ben Moon, Jerry, Ron Kauk, Yuji, etc.) did their hardest climbs well into their thirties.
    To me the real changing point being in your late thirties, forties, and on, and having a family. From personal experience I have noticed climbing has gotten dramatically more challenging when you have financial and time responsibilities to a family, when your life requires a stable home, and when you need to have a solid job and start thinking more seriously about future costs (retirement, etc.) All of the sudden you cannot take climbing trips often or long, even with an understanding family, and simply cannot climb or train as much. I disagree with Peter in that I think it actually takes MORE motivation to keep at it, particularly at a higher level. Most of my contemporaries have quit or really cut back. Who can you think of out of the stars of the last generation that are still at it?
    Either way, you single youngsters should feel sorry for us (in a sense, having kids is actually more awesome than climbing) and remember to appreciate and revel in the times you are having exploring the rocks of the world!
    Good subject, but us really old dudes need a support group or something.
    p.s. after being in the same situation, it makes it really impressive to me to see family men/ women cranking away.
    So rad that JC Hunter has 4 kids and a full time job!

  15. B3

    09. Dec, 2010

    mike, I agree, but they asked me to do it and I said I would help.

  16. peter beal

    09. Dec, 2010

    “I disagree with Peter in that I think it actually takes MORE motivation to keep at it, particularly at a higher level. ”

    If I wasn’t clear on this point, let me say that I totally agree with the need for a much higher degree of motivation. I am pretty much constantly on the go on a given bouldering session. No down time for hanging with homies.

    I definitely don’t want younger climbers to feel sorry though. My current way of living is so rich in experiences of all kinds and I am climbing as hard I ever have. While it would be nice to take a long trip or two right now, patience has had a way of revealing unseen opportunities. No support group is needed though the climbing industry’s obsessive focus on youth is a bit laughable.

  17. mb

    09. Dec, 2010

    agreed Peter, and I am sorry if I misunderstood you. I was really joking about the younger climbers feeling sorry, but I definitely feel a bit jealous not being able to take climbing trips like I used to. It also makes it much more difficult to get anything done!
    Jaime, I hope I didn’t give the impression I was somehow knocking you or the video, but judging by the title of the video it seems as if they are making “climbing after 30” into some sort of big deal or challenge, and I simply disagree. In fact in a way it is less challenging than climbing in your twenties, because you are wiser and have more of the bugs worked out. Thinking about this subject is interesting though, and I was trying to think of the older climbers who are still at it. Most of my contemporaries and the leaders of the last generation started dropping like flies in their late thirties. Here are some examples:
    Dale Goddard: had kids in thirties, full time job, climbs very rarely
    John Cronin: quit climbing
    Tim Wagner; quit climbing
    Jim Karn: quit climbing
    Jerry Moffat: quit climbing’
    Ben Moon: basically has stopped climbing after having a kid
    The list goes on. Basically the only ones left are those who are professionals, like Yuji and Lynn Hill, or those that are single and still motivated (Ramsey is an example)
    My solution has been to focus on the climbing in Utah and exploring the opportunities closer to home. Regardless, it is still really cool to see guys like you Jamie who are coming into their own in their thirties. Keep it up!

  18. peter beal

    11. Dec, 2010

    Fascinating list, Mike. For the life of me, I don’t know why anyone would want to stop even with kids and job, etc.. I never went fulltime so I guess I am still just ticking along at 46, still learning and working on improving. In fact I am probably more involved in climbing than ever.

  19. John Cronin

    03. Feb, 2011

    Interesting discussion. At 46, my body is not able to take the abuse that climbing dishes out when you’re climbing close to the standard. I basically stopped progressing at in my early 30s. Sure I put up lots of fun problems that are kind of hard and some scary but none close to what the standard was at the time. I’d say all of the fun over the years that I climbed was in the constant progression every time I went out, that there was something to learn and figure out. That stopped in my early thirties but I kept pushing it till my mid to late thirties. When I moved to the west coast in my early 40s I tried to climb a little but what I really wanted to do was surf because there was, and still is, a constant learning curve. That, and climbing beat the shit out of my elbows so I had to make a choice in where I spent my time. I’ve also taken up Table Tennis. There’s a sport that is really hard to get good at and shitloads of fun. I don’t see slowing down with either of those two “new” sports anytime soon. I haven’t climbed in a few years and rarely even think about it these days. With so many good waves to be had and hard Table Tennis to be played it’s not hard to do.
    I think it’s natural to move on to other things when you’re not progressing any longer.

  20. Tim Steele

    16. Apr, 2011

    although I liked the interview, climbing in your thirties only seems old if you’re in your 20’s! I look at guys in their mid 40’s/50’s climbing hard. That seems far more noteworthy of an article. Anyway, I agree with the points Mike, Peter, and John make. And then there is the simple fact that the body starts to break down at some point. I’m sure, though, that judging by the way standards are going, there will be gobs of folks sending 8a+ at age 50 in the future. That’s just how it goes. The cutting edge today will seem pretty average ten years from now.

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