How to climb 6a: top ten tips

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 27/07/2017

Climb grade 5 outdoor sport routes, but want to progress? Getting solid and comfortable climbing 6a will open up a lot of crags to you. But how do you start pushing your comfort zone, and what should you focus on?

1 Footwork focus

Footwork is key to climbing hard and pushing your grade. Being able to reduce the weight on your arms will not only make you a more efficient climber but will also improve your confidence and technique.

2 Indoors vs outdoors

Climbing indoors is great for developing your skills and getting strong, but getting outside is a different game: the only way to develop your confidence and push onto the harder grades on real rock, is to climb more on real rock.

3 Visualisation

How many times have you climbed a route without even looking at it? Try visualising the moves before you start, and see if you can work out where the crux sections are. On longer routes you may want to break it down into sections and then try to figure out how to put it all together. It's a great memory game!

4 Flexibility

Flexibility is often overlooked in favour of strength but a good yoga session can do wonders for your climbing. Try including some stretching into your daily routine and you will soon find that those high rock-overs become possible.

5 Mentors

Climb with people who are better than you. While this may give your ego a bashing, it's a great way to learn and develop as a climber.

WATCH: How to thread a sport route on BMC TV

6 Route choice

Everyone has different strengths, and routes at the same grade can vary widely. Pick the right route for you: slab, overhanging, short and powerful, reachy, covered in crimps, long stamina or jug-fest!

7 Resting on route

Learn when to move and when to rest. It's tempting to hang around on a crux if the holds are small and you're feeling gripped, but you'll get pumped! Likewise if you find yourself in a comfortable spot, consider taking a few moments to shake out.

8 Drill the basics

Practice clipping smoothly and from the right position — your arms should be straight and your fingers shouldn't be over-gripping, if possible. Check out our playlist of sport climbing tips and tricks on BMC YouTube: Sport Climbing playlist

9 Keep your head

Psychology is as important as strength. Do you trust your belayer, shoes and the rope? Top-rope harder routes so you know the 6a above you is well within your reach — then you'll feel more confident that you can lead it.

10 Go on holiday!

Climbing once a week is good, but climbing for the whole week will help your confidence, technique and the pyramid of your log book.

WATCH: How to use a clip-stick on BMC TV


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BMC travel insurance comes in five policies: Travel, Trek, Rock, Alpine and Ski and High Altitude. Read more about the Covid-travel FAQs here


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Anonymous User
28/07/2017
Losing weight also helps
Anonymous User
07/08/2017
Very misleading title - when I saw 6a you didn't say French 6a! Whole lot a difference between French sports climbing grades and UK grading.
Anonymous User
08/09/2019
Clipstick really?

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