You made it thru the winter without any major mishaps skiing or snowboarding. Now you and your friends are psyched to start climbing again. You dug out your shoes and harness from the closet and your headed to the rock gym for a couple hours. After a quick couple laps on the bouldering traverse warm up you clip into a cool looking top rope route, gym rated 5.10+, because last october you were sending 5.10 sport climbs easily. Half way up the route you feel like your forearms are going to explode, your footwork is not confidence inspiring, not too mention your fingertips are starting to hurt.
Lower down off of the wall and take a few minutes to accept that your body is de-conditioned to climbing from the winter. Unless you have been maintaining a twice a week climbing gym regiment all winter or just super gifted you are not going to be climbing the same grade you were at the end of the fall or summer. This is not to say that you won’t be able to get back to that same level or higher quickly, it’s just not going to happen in your first few outings to the climbing gym or outside climbing areas.
Start slow. Ease your body back into climbing. People with years of climbing experience will be able to gain back their strength and endurance faster due to muscle memory and technique. Newer climbers who are still working on technique will take longer to regain strength and endurance.
Make sure you always properly warm up, even when you are climbing at your peak level. Big holds and easy moves combined with stretching of the elbows, finger tendons, and forearms will all help to prevent any major injuries that can curb you for the remainder of your climbing season.
I personally won’t climb anything harder than 5.9 for the first few times in the gym. This allows me to focus more on technique and endurance rather than blasting myself in a short amount of time and risking injury. Take it easy, you have a long climbing season ahead of you.