Rock Climber Andrew Bisharat Shares His Best Climbing Tips and the Importance of Climbing History

Unlike most climbers, Andrew Bisharat really cares about the history of climbing and sports.

Understanding the origins and evolution of the sport have helped Andrew become a better climber, who knows what has been accomplished in climbing – and what can be accomplished in the future.

In this interview, you will learn why there are no rules about rock climb training, why it’s best to change up your routine once in a while, how Andrew handles injuries and recovery, and much more!

Climber Andrew Bisharat

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Andrew Bisharat. I’m a freelance writer and rock climber living in western Colorado with my wife, daughter, and dog. I’m originally from New York but have been living in Colorado for 13 years.

I love rock climbing, but also love cooking, and recently I’ve been trying to perfect my sourdough bread and I’ve been obsessed with making Neapolitan-style pizza.

I work from home and collaborate with people around the world on a wide variety of creative projects in a variety of mediums, from print to digital, commercial to editorial.

Climber Andrew Bisharat

How and why did you get into climbing?

My high school girlfriend got me a rock climbing lesson at the Shawangunks when I was 16, and I was pretty much hooked right after that. Climbing is a diverse sport with trad, big-wall, mountaineering, sport, bouldering, etc. I like doing it all, so that keeps me pretty busy and I don’t have time for other sports, other than trail running, road biking and other things like that, which I only do to stay fit.

Why is climbing important for you?

Climbing is important to me because it’s an incredible vehicle for adventure, travel, community, and purpose. There are rocks to climb in every country in the world, and I’ve been to many places to experience the local climbing culture and community. Climbers are awesome people. The sport is philosophically interesting, as well. It challenges you with many existential questions that naturally inspire deep self-reflection and demand you to come up with a values-based system for what’s important in life. Climbing is how I met my wife, and it’s awesome to have this be a passion we both get to share.

Climber Andrew Bisharat

How do you train and become better at climbing?

The best way to get better at climbing is to just climb more, especially outside, and especially with people who are better and stronger than you. Really specific training like hangboarding, campus boarding, etc., only really begins to become important once you’re climbing at a pretty high level and have a lot of experience with different kinds of rock under your belt.

My “coaches” are really just my best friends who have been experimenting with what works and what doesn’t work over the years. There are no real rules about training. It’s highly personal, so it’s best to experiment with what works for you. Throw out 80 percent of what you hear, and take the other 20 percent. If you’re getting injured from overuse, you’re definitely doing something really wrong.

Climber Andrew Bisharat

What are the hardest parts of climbing?

Some of the hardest parts of climbing are dealing with all the variables that go into performance: Skin, weather, the right head space, and feeling fit/light. Having all that come together takes experience and a bit of luck, sometimes, too. The biggest dangers of training are not resting and recovering properly, and this is especially true the older you get.

When you’re tired and everything is a mess, the answer isn’t to keep going. It’s to take a break and allow yourself the time you need to recover. This is a difficult concept for most people to understand. Wanting something really badly, being overly attached to outcomes, paradoxically, these attitudes are the greatest forces driving us away from reaching our goals.

Climber Andrew Bisharat

How do you eat and sleep?

I love cooking and eat really good, high quality food. We have a lot of local options here on the western slope of Colorado. We get raw milk from a small herd of local cows, we buy local grass fed beef and lamb and keep it in a giant freezer year round. Our coffee is freshly roasted locally at Bonfire Coffee. I drink a lot of espresso.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that limiting carbs has become much more important, which is a bummer given my hobby of making bread. I try to eat small, early dinners and large, late breakfasts, and then snack throughout the day.

I am an ambassador to the Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery, and they make excellent wine with Colorado grapes, as well as canned wine, which is perfect for taking to crags for climbing. I also love beer and whisky.

I think the best supplements to take are Vitamin D with fish oil, magnesium, and Vitamin B-complex. I’ve been experimenting with using Lion’s Mane for deep, creative work, and that’s been proving really beneficial. When I’m training over the winter and don’t mind gaining extra weight, I’ll use creatine. Don’t bother taking multivitamins, which are a waste. Sleep has always been an issue for me, and something I need to work on more.

Climber Andrew Bisharat

How do you handle injuries and recovery?

I’ve dealt with shoulder issues for years, but I’ve finally fixed them up by following a mobility routine, which you can read about on my site, Evening Sends. It depends on the injury, but everyone could do much more if they learned how to roll around on a lacrosse ball and use voodoo floss bands. Don’t sit at a desk all day, get a standing desk, and learn how to take care of your tissues with mobility exercises.

What are your best advice people new to climbing?

The best advice for new climbers is to go slow. My friend, Lee Sheftel, started climbing when he was 36, and he sent his first 5.14 when he was 58. There is plenty of time throughout your life to improve. Go slowly, take advantage of the community by asking for help, and don’t be afraid to try new things. There’s a big ass world full of rock climbs. Don’t get sucked into just hanging around the gym.

The other thing is that very few people have any real interest in our sport’s history, but we have an incredible history filled with wild characters. Understanding our sport’s origins, its evolution, is something not many new climbers seem to do these days, and I think that’s a real shame.

Best advice for people who have been climbing for years?

Change up your routine. I know some people who go to the same crags year after year, do the same routes, project the same projects. If you’re a sport climber working on the same 5.13 or 5.14 for the last five years, why not try trad climbing a 5.9 somewhere new? Or ice climbing? Take a season off from crimping and go climb Kilimanjaro or something like that.

Climber Andrew Bisharat

How do you balance family life, earning money with climbing?

Good question They are the ones I struggle with every day. And the fact is, there are no easy answers and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. Balance is a constant struggle, not a permanent state that is ever achieved.

What kind of climbing shoes and clothes do you use, what has been your best sport purchase below $100, and what other favorite gear do you have?

  • I love Scarpa climbing shoes, and have been using the Dragos and the Chimeras this year, which I love. I am a big supporter of Patagonia clothing because this company has a strong ethical stance toward our environment and political situation.
  • Lacrosse ball $2 for self-massage and mobility.
  • The Sierra Designs backcountry bed sleeping bag is probably my favorite sleeping bag ever.
Climber Andrew Bisharat
Sport Climbing: From Top Rope to Redpoint, Techniques for Climbing Success by Andrew Bisharat

What inspired you to write your book?

I wrote a how-to book in 2008 called, Sport Climbing: From Top Rope to Redpoint, Techniques for Climbing Success. It’s a book for beginners looking to learn how to approach increasingly harder rock climbs. The hardest part of writing the book was doing it while also having a full-time job (at the time). I’d write for three hours in the morning, then go to work all day, then write more when I got home.

What will the future bring?

My family and I are taking a trip to Fontainbleau, France, this fall. I’m just as excited about the bread, cheese, and wine as I am about the bouldering.

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