Climbing Competition Isolation
For on-sight rock climbing competitions, climbers must attempt the routes with no previous knowledge of the route or sequences. This is accomplished by holding the climbers in a waiting area called "isolation". This area separates the competitors from viewing the routes, talking to other climbers who have completed their climbs or talking to spectators or coaches. Generally a climbing competition isolation area includes a toilet, drinks, chairs, table, warm-up or bouldering wall and a transition zone, sometimes called "on deck".
Prior to climbing, climbers in each category will be taken to preview the route. After the preview they are taken back to the climbing competition isolation area until they are called to compete. When a climber is called from the isolation area he is taken to the transition zone. Even though this is considered to be part of the isolation area, the climber is not permitted to talk to any climbers or leave and return to the transition area. In the transition zone the climber makes the last preparations before climbing. Sometimes the competitor will be required to tie the rope to their harness while in the transition area. When the climber is called from the transition area, he is taken directly to the wall to climb. If the climber has already tied in to the rope, the rope is carried with the climber to the wall and the climber is expected to begin climbing immediately.
In large climbing competitions, isolation can be a long wait. Use your time in isolation to prepare for the climb. Even though you may not see the route or talk to competitors who have already competed there is much you can do to prepare.
Stay hydrated. Even slightly dehydrated muscles lose up to 30% of their contractile strength. See How Muscles Work for more information. Take some fruit, sport bars, water or sport drinks in to isolation with you.
Look at the holds on the warm-up wall. Examine the holds carefully. There may be unfamiliar holds used on the competition route. A close look at the holds on the warm-up wall may give you a sneak preview of the shapes you will find on the competition route.
Warm up before climbing. Make sure you know where you fall in the sequence and how long it will take to get to you. Do not try to stay "warmed up" for hours while you are waiting to climb. About 30 minutes before you are scheduled to climb, begin your warm-up. Warm up with stretching, an easy jog in place, and low intensity traversing on the warm up wall.
Eat carbohydrates. As you begin your warm up eat as mall amount of carbohydrates. This could be one banana or some other fruit. Reduce intake of proteins and fats before climbing--these groups do not provide immediate energy. See Carbohydrates, and Food Fat for more information.
Review your route. Think over the route from your preview. If you saw cruxes, think through alternate sequences which may include down climbing.
Relax. Slow your breathing by taking longer, deeper breaths. Then focus your attention on muscle groups from the neck down. Relax all the muscles in each group one at a time, keeping them relaxed as you move from one group to the next.
Gear check. It is easy to leave something behind when you go from isolation to transition. You will not be allowed to go back to isolation from transit or after you climb.
Proceed to The Preview