Mixed Climbing – Quick Tips – How to Climb Smoothly

Chicks Mixed Climbing Clinic, Camp Bird Road, Ouray, Colorado. ©Kitty Calhoun 

Chicks Mixed Climbing Clinic, Camp Bird Road, Ouray, Colorado. ©Kitty Calhoun

So Smooth, Just Like Butter on a Muffin!

My seven-year-old son, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt with hair slicked back, glided across the room as if he was riding a surfboard. He sang out, “So smooth, just like butter on a muffin.” This line soon became the mantra at my mixed and ice climbing clinics.

So, how do you move fluidly?  How do you climb so smooth, just like butter on a muffin?

You learn to climb in balance with precision and purpose.

What the heck does that mean?

Join us for our Mixed Climbing Clinic where we’ll take deep dive into understanding climbing in balance with precision and purpose.

In the meantime, keep reading to get an idea.


Mixed climbing is an aspect of climbing that especially demands precision because the holds tend to be smaller. However, smaller does not necessarily mean harder. If you’re in balance, then smaller holds can be more useful than larger holds that put you out of balance.


My Pilates instructor once told me, “Use stability to provide mobility.” It is the same in mixed climbing. You must learn to keep your core and all of your limbs perfectly still. This all-body-stillness supports the stability and balance you’ll need to move your next tool or foot up. Then the trick is to shift your balance and stabilize under your newly placed tool or over your newly placed foot.


Watch a graceful climber and you’ll notice that she’ll slow down and study the next sequence of moves from a relative rest position. Then, once she begins to move again, she’ll commit without hesitation to each move. It’s as if she has glue on her front points and picks. She does not stop and “shop around” for holds.

Never Underestimate the Powerful Tools of Visualization and Breath

Visualizing in small detail is as effective in terms of building brain engrams as doing the actual movement itself.  Yet visualization takes discipline. It takes practice to slow down and focus on running a play-by-play movie in your mind of you climbing like a super star.

Breath connects mind to body. Use your breath as a tool to keep yourself calm and performing efficiently.  Start by simply reminding yourself to breathe. It is very common to hold your breath when the going gets tough. Then you can work your way into more specific techniques. Try inhaling slowly and deeply through your nose combined with a pursed-lip out-breath.

Soon, you too, will be climbing as smooth as butter on a muffin!

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