I get flustered by complex cruxes above good rests. I down climb to the rest and get more confused, then finally go up and slap aimlessly for something just to get it over with. Any advice for calmer route reading? —Tim Magnus, Pittsburg, PA
With redpointing, the key to solving complex sequences is to work backwards, starting from the exit hold in the crux. With onsighting, you can do the same by looking for the highest good hold and working backwards, piecing together a theoretical sequence. Decide if it will be crucial to get the good hold with a particular hand or whether you can match.
Give yourself credit for returning to the rest. It’s amazing how few climbers reverse, even if the rest is only a few feet below. Down climbing is one of the more useful tactics for taming a crux, especially if you can clip first and then reverse.
If the rest is good and you are reasonably fit then you can treat the crux like a boulder problem, except you will climb down each time rather than jump off. I agree that things can get tough if you don’t solve the problem after two or three inspections. Accept that the holds are bad and that this situation won’t change. Commit and summon as much power as possible.