What makes a solid pyramid?

We’ve all heard about building a base, but what does that mean?

My name is Jess, I’m a coach with Power Company and I also work for KAYA, the climber’s app. Between the two, I’ve learned that a good pyramid follows powers of 3. Beginner to elite climbers display this pretty persistently in their pyramids.

Example:
A climber that has sent 3 v7s has also sent 9 v6s and 27 v5s. So, on their quest to v8, they can expect to send at least 6 more v7s. This pattern can be a nice reminder of the work that goes into unlocking top grades but doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be pushing that limit now and then! It can also indicate, like in my case, that I should be projecting more, as this year I’ve sent 17 v6s, 4 v7s and haven’t even attempted a v8 yet.

Does your pyramid follow this “rule”? What have you discovered by tracking your ascents?

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Are we talking performance or training? I think that gets lost in the new conversations around pyramids, and it’s an important distinction.
For instance, I’ve never logged indoor climbs as anything more than training (and now I have no idea what the grades of my indoor projects might be), and outdoor repeats also don’t make my performance pyramid.
I suspect the available time outdoors and availability of a variety of grades would cause the pyramid to change a fair amount per person. For instance, we don’t have many V8s here. For whatever reason, it’s just an underrepresented grade and I’ve done most of them, so they won’t appear again for me. Unless I travel or do FAs, I might go all year with no V8s.

— I log one pyramid - for “performance” that I’ve kept since 2007. This is the only one I actually ever look at a physical representation of, and is only outdoors.
— I have another that is kept in my head or training logs that is on a 12 month (or so) cycle for “currency”. That one contains repeats as well, and is only outdoors.
— I have another for “training” that is on about a 2-3 month cycle and includes the top level repeats I only do indoors, and only contains indoor boulders on my spray wall.

Added together these may be closer to the powers of 3 rule you mention, but because it works best for me to keep my training and outdoor time separated, and my currency outdoors is radically different than indoor climbing, it doesn’t make sense for me to combine them. I couldn’t anyway because I literally have no clue what the grades are of my indoor boulders. :man_shrugging:t2:

All that said, I prefer to keep my performance and currency base at 8-10 entries and not pay much attention below that. It’ll get added to with warmups and mini projects, but I’m not too concerned about it.

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The timeline of pyramids has always been a bit confusing for me. Sounds like Kris your performance pyramid is sort of like a lifetime type accumulation?

The idea of the 8-10 currency climbs is also interesting. As that fluctuates over time is that something that helps inform your project choices?

My performance pyramid is lifetime, but when I get to 8-10 climbs of a higher grade, that’s my new base and my focus moves there and up. The rest fills itself in.

Actually, my goals dictate what my currency pyramid looks like. For instance, if my big goal is a V10 vegetable (crimps for me) boulder, then I try to build a currency pyramid that includes hard crimp boulders. If my goal is a 13c at Wild Iris, then my pyramid will be shaped specifically to reacquaint myself with that style.
Depending on how often I’m able to get out and what my past experience is, the currency pyramid might often look more like 4-2-1.
However, if someone doesn’t have lots of experience outdoors on different rock, then their currency pyramid might need to be much wider at the base.

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That makes sense! You need the right kind of currency to spend. Very rad

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Great points! This would be more performance- based. If we start talking lifetime, we’re introducing outliers and other data that could potentially be irrelevant. I like that you brought up indoor vs outdoor and agree that if indoor is primarily for training, esp because what are indoor grades?, having a performance-based, annual outdoor ascent log would be the most relevant to you.

For me… the gym climber… outdoor climbs are a special treat so I consider them to be a test or display of my current fitness level and pay more attention to the style and finding suitable climbs for me. So logging those sessions really throws off my pyramid and definitely my send-attempt ratio.

@Kris having a lifetime performance pyramid but adjusting your base for the current goal is really cool and totally makes sense versus lifetime lifetime.

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I have images of my pyramid in years when I was projecting my hardest things. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about them and why they look the way they do as opposed to my all time pyramids.

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I think the idea that you have to do a perfectly stacked gradually progressing be pyramid is a little antiquated. My personal pyramid is somewhat inverted for a few specific reasons-

I live in Colorado, a place where there are a lot of hard problems and the bouldering is somewhat dispersed. As a result, I frequently make specific trips to go do a particular boulder, and usually choose to invest time and energy into hard things.

Sometimes I think I should fill in the gaps because it seems like the thing I’m supposed to do, but I feel more compelled to up my grades for the specific reason of quality. I have found that the best boulders in my area are double digit problems and most of my partners are climbing at a much higher level than I currently do.

I also do not count gym problems in my pyramid as I consider them to be training problems, but if I did I think it would be much more traditionally well filled in.

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