Climbing 5.12 for the First Time at the NRG

5.12 is a super exciting grade level to break into outside. I was completely stoked to break into the 5.11 grade outside. I am sure all climbers are! But, climbing 5.12 is a goal that literally never even entered my mind until mid-summer 2020.

I am going to share with you first, how I got this crazy idea in my head in the first place, that maybe I can climb 5.12 outside. Second, I am going to share my route analysis breakdown. Yup, I made a spreadsheet, and transferred the information to beautiful info-graphics for you! Because we both know that sending success on a route has a lot to do with style and such! I want to find the best routes for ME. 🙂 AND, maybe my breakdown of finding the best 5.12a for me to try, will help you find your first 5.12 too!

The Inception of My Wild Little Goal to Climb 5.12 Outside at the NRG This Fall

I have been climbing for 12 years. My beginners success stride is long gone. Before 2019, the hardest I had lead outside was 10c, and that was through an embarrassing and ego-crushing melt-down over a teeny fall on Strike a Scowl at the NRG. I have a history of being terrified to lead outside. As soon as I thought a fall was possible, my body retracts, like it is trying to protect internal organs or conserve heat or something. I am rarely fit enough to do 5 consecutive pull ups. I do not really have a competitive bone in my body. None of these things say, “Yeah, she could maybe climb 5.12!”

But, here we are! You see, my Covid hobby, aside from starting this blog, was lifting heavy weights. During the lock down, before gyms opened, I logged like 40+ heavy lifting sessions in our basement gym. (Lady climbers, you might be shocked at your gains if you start lifting heavy…) So, when climbing gyms finally opened, I managed to wake up my forearm muscles, get skin back, and build up endurance again for the breathtaking 55 foot overhanging walls at Reach Climbing and Fitness, where I climb. And, after maybe 6 weeks, I actually managed to flash a couple of 12s. WHAT?!?! I 100% attribute this to the fact that I started lifting heavy weights regularly. I had gained visible muscle I did not have before. Of course I blogged about it, click here to read! 🙂

Were The Climbs Graded Soft?

I had the same question. Some, yes and were downgraded to 11+, and some were not downgraded! Further investigation was necessary. I asked around to other climbers, I was like, “Hey, you climb/project 12s in this gym… do you also climb 12s outside?” and people were like, “Yeah, I have done a few 12s outside.” Inside I was like, WHAT?!?!

It got me thinking… If I can climb this stuff in the gym, and so can they… and they can climb 5.12 outside… can I climb 5.12 outside?!?!?!? And my little wild goal was born.

Picking the Perfect 5.12 for My Best Chances of Success

So, now, I am in the process of picking the perfect climb to try. Female Climber ISO, the perfect route. Enjoys, overhangs, large flakes, pulling small to medium sized roofs. Will work with tech-y face climbing and small feet. Deal breakers: slab, ground fall risk at third bolt, noted height dependent cruxes, and stupid long run-outs.

So, on the following three info-graphics, which you can download with the link below, you will not see slab climbs, many climbs with fewer than 1 bolt per 10 feet, or climbs that the guide book literally says that the crux is height dependent. You also will not see on this list climbs with fewer than 3.5 stars. I have also included the warm ups, or lack there of, in the area.


Climbing 5.12 Info-graphics for the NRG


I Might Totally Fail

I am 100% aware that I might totally fail. However, failure is 100% OK in my book. If I try some of these climbs and don’t get to the top, I am sure that I will have learned a lot more than I would have not trying at all. I might fail on my first trip this fall, but I might succeed on my second. I might fail at the NRG, but I might succeed at the Red, where I will also be this fall. So, there are many ways to succeed here. And anything that is not success is learning, and I am happy with learning. Like Arno Ilger says in The Rock Warrior’s Way, if all you do is succeed, succeed, succeed, then you aren’t learning anything. Learning is more valuable than success. Success through trial and learning is what we love.

Check Out More Fairly Extreme Posts

How Does Creatine Work to Build Muscle?
Ok nerds, every wonder how exactly creatine works to build muscle and …
Creatine Pros and Cons: First 60 Days Supplementing with Creatine
The decision to supplement with creatine felt like a big one, where …
Finding Your Tipping Point or If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Now that I am almost 41, it is time to bring to …
It’s Gonna Be a Fight: 6, 5, 4 Months left training to climb 5.12
I have pinballed my way through May, June, July, and I have …

Leave a Reply