Guest author Jeannine Zubler met British crack climber Tom Randall in the famous Gritstone area and talked to him about the Black Mamba route, injuries and mental training.

A guest contribution by Jeannine Zubler

The Wide Boyz, Pete Whittaker and you were the first to climb the route Black Mamba with difficulty 5.14b (8c) in Utah. Why these?
We already knew about this route for several years. But we could never imagine creating them. With hard training in the past few years, Black Mamba suddenly seemed feasible to me.

Can you describe the route?
Black Mamba is one of the toughest rift routes we have ever climbed! Everything is included in the 50 meter long crack roof: tight finger cracks up to offwidth climbing; to several key points. The last ten meters are the hardest - the very last move in the roof gives you the biggest chance to fly out.

You are known to get along with as few backups as possible. How was that with Black Mamba?
We only took the bare minimum, just so that you do not hit the ground. Nevertheless, that was still three to four pounds of weight.

That is certainly very dangerous?
I always felt safe. But it is very subjective how many backups it takes to safely climb a route.

How can you imagine your training on the route?
We have a lot of training in the basement under my house. Pete and I are building crack volumes, which we sell to climbing gyms. We simply installed everything we could find in my basement. I probably have the most expensive indoor climbing room in the world!

Video above: Tom Randall in his converted cellar

How long did it take you to climb the route?
We trained in the cellar for three months. On the rock we were able to climb the route on the fifth day.

You specialize in crack climbing - why?
I love the feeling of mastering things really well. When I'm in control of climbing, the way I climb, how fast, my emotions, the patterns of movement. It makes me happy to become a beginner.

It was a coincidence that my choice fell on crack climbing: Ten years ago, I injured my finger and had to refocus myself. Since then jame (jam) me ...

"I love the feeling of being able to do something really well."

Tom randall

What is the biggest difference from crack climbing to other types of climbing?
The technology. Strength and strength are not enough for crack climbing. The balance between technique and strength must be perfect when climbing cracks.

On your side you write, crack climbers like pain...
If you want to climb at the top, you have to put up with pain and injury, yes.

How do you manage to get fit quickly after an injury?
I never stop training. I focus on what works in an injury phase. I consciously train the healthy parts of my body. For example, when I have compressed my left wrist, I train my trunk stabilization and one-hand problems with my right arm. That way I stay motivated and make progress in another area. You have to be creative! I see problems as an opportunity. So I can get the best results out of the worst situation! I'm good at that, I'm very adaptable.

After a week of fingerlocking, the joint looks like that with Tom. (Picture Tom Randall)

That sounds very easy now ...
It's not easy, you're right. I've had very hard times too. But over time, this setting works better and better. Every time I become more productive and happier as a person. That's really my whole trick.

Do you also do mental training?
I like to analyze how I feel, what I do; I also read a lot and listen to podcasts and try to learn from them. I am constantly looking for new ideas to develop, to get better and to learn from the experiences of others.

How do you stay motivated?
How do you stay motivated to eat chocolate? Climbing gives me great feedback, I love it - there's no need for additional motivation. If I feel more like going out for a beer with friends, then I do, so easy. I ask myself: What do I need right now? In the long term, motivation can only come from within, otherwise you will not last long.

Is always up for a crazy action. (Picture Mike Hutton Images)

About Tom Randall

Tom Randall is a professional in terms of training. With his training concept «Lattice Training» he advises and trains customers all over the world. Climbers complete a standardized test in a specially developed grille in a partner climbing gym in Lattice. It measures finger strength, endurance, movement patterns and much more. The results are analyzed and used by Lattice individual training plan developed. In addition, Lattice has developed an app for climbers and climbers, which contains training plans and analyzes the development. More under

About the author of this article

Jeannine Zubler is a freelance journalist and copywriter. She spends every free minute in the mountains and climbing and writes about everything that happens in the vertical.

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Credits: text Jeannine Zubler, Pictures Tom Randall and Mike Hutton Images

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