Gabor Szekely: The Colorado Translation

posted by dpm on 11/13/2009

Gabor Szekely: The Colorado Translation
From plastic to granite, RMNP to CATS, Gabor has been knocking down hard problems and routes while he takes in the Colorado experience.

Boulder, Colorado is home to hundreds of strong climbers.  Transplants from various locations flock to Boulder to submerse themselves in the culture that is Colorado climbing.  Gabor Szekely has been climbing since he was nine, he is a member of the Hungarian National Team, and just recently cranked his first 9a, Los Inconformistas.  DPM caught up with Gabor before his trip to Slovenia to learn about his methods and how he has submersed himself in the Colorado scene.


DPM: You have been training for World Cup with Paul (Robinson)?  What are your training days like?

Gabor: Paul has been really psyched on lead climbing lately (nearly doing Dreamcatcher, 9a about a month ago) so I thought it would be a great opportunity for him to compete against the world's best climbers in the final lead World Cup of the year. Since I was already planning on going, I convinced him to come along and see what a lead comp was like. After figuring out how to pay for it, he got really psyched so together we have spent the past few weeks training hard and getting in the best shape possible. For me it has been a great opportunity to train together with someone as motivated and talented as Paul, and my experience with training has also been very helpful with Paul's quick transition to route climbing. 

The training really varies depending on what stage we are in, but the general idea is to build a strong base of power early on (with the main focus being short, powerful boulder problems), then focus more and more on endurance as the season progresses. Lately we have been climbing about 5 days a week, with one day of bouldering and four days mostly climbing routes. There is one really hard route (maybe 14c) up in the gym right now, so every day we give that a couple attempts, then after run laps on easier routes (between 13b and 13d) with little rest between goes. We also do circuits on the bouldering wall (long traverses linking multiple boulder problems) to build our power endurance, and every once in a while do fingerboard/campus training to build max power. 

DPM:  Do you rope up more or are you also solid in bouldering?

Gabor: Lately I have been focusing a lot on sport climbing, but bouldering is just as important and essential to my progression as a climber. Living in Colorado, there are so many amazing boulder problems close to home that it is impossible not to be psyched on them. I have climbed a couple hard boulders this fall, such as Elegant Universe V11 and The Sharma Lunge (Sit) V11/12, and got really close to doing the classic Nuthin But Sunshine V13 in one session. Once the World Cup is over I am very motivated to focus on bouldering again and try some of the classic test pieces in the area, mainly Circadian Rhythm V13 and Echale V14. 

DPM:  What is your Kryptonite? Pinches, Slopers?

Gabor: My main weakness in climbing is moves that require a lot of tension with bad holds and footholds. Basically the opposite of a typical gym problem. I would say I am pretty well-rounded on pinches, crimps, slopers, underclings, etc. 

DPM:  You live in boulder your sister trains in California, explain why Colorado?  Why do many strong climbers house themselves there?

Gabor: I moved to Colorado mainly because of the climbing, but there are many other appealing aspects of living here. The people are nice, the environment is beautiful, and I have many friends out here that I have known since I was little. I also go to school at CU Boulder and really enjoy my classes, so it is nice to challenge myself academically and not just in climbing. These are probable the main reasons why many strong climbers move out here, instead of other places with just as good climbing. 

DPM:  Colorado seems to hold a large amount of the climbing community, they are strong and really establish or push the climbing scene...Why is Colorado the most involved state?

Gabor: I would say that Colorado is so progressive in climbing because of the number of amazing routes and boulder problems in the area. One can literally leave his/her house and within an hour's drive have hundreds of high-quality problems to try. There are also so many undeveloped areas that new difficult problems are out there for everyone to find and develop. This really motivates people to train hard and push their personal standards, as well as the standards of the climbing world. There is also a huge climbing tradition here in Colorado (almost every person you see in Boulder has at least tried climbing once) so unlike other places, you're not just the "weird guy that climbs up rocks". Many of the world's best climbers are constantly passing through and challenging themselves on the rocks of Colorado, so motivation in always high. 

DPM: To an outsider CATS is a simple gym, no route change outs, old holds, what is its significance to training and the Colorado scene?

Gabor: The fact there are no "set" boulder problems in CATS is what makes it such an amazing gym. The wall is littered with jugs, small crimps, bad slopers, etc, so unlike many other gyms it is really easy to make up boulder problems and circuits. This evokes the creative sides of climbers as they can create whatever type of problem they want, and therefore every time you walk in there is something new to try. The holds are actually changed quite often and most of them are nice, new holds (although the classic old holds are also really fun to climb on). In CATS everyone is a route-setter, so in the end there are a huge variety of problems for everybody to try.  This unique aspect makes it one of the best training gyms in the country. 

DPM: How have you been pulling outside?  You recently sent a 9a in Spain any projects you working on currently?

Gabor: This summer was really good for me as I repeated many classic, hard routes in Europe, including Los Inconformistas, my first 9a (5.14d) in Rodellar, Spain. Climbing this route was a huge accomplishment for me, and it really taught me patience and commitment to a goal. I also climbed many other classics such as Dave Grahams Los Borrachos del Mascun, 5.14c/d, and Las Quatro Estaciones, a 5.14c/d established by Chris Sharma. Right now I have a couple routes that I am really motivated to try, including The Re-Up 5.14d in St. George, Utah. I will also be heading to Spain this winter for three weeks so there are many routes there I still have to finish up. My main goals are to do a 5.14a on-sight and hopefully climb another 9a. There are two that I came really close to doing last year, so it will be cool to see how they feel now after all the recent training. 

DPM: If you could set your perfect project what would it involve as far as holds and sequence?

Gabor: That is actually a really hard question to answer! In terms of a route, I would probably set one that's about 70-80 feet long and really steep, involving powerful moves on tufas and crazy dead-point moves off of heel hooks. For a boulder, I would set one that's also really steep and mostly tricky instead of purely just difficult. Something with compression moves and drop knee's/heel hooks would probably be ideal.

As a final word I would like to thank my sponsors - La Sportiva, Petzl, Redpoint Nutrition, and Verve for being extremely supportive and helping me accomplish my goals this past year!

Check out Gabor's send of Los Inconformistas  on our HD Player HERE.