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Climbers and New Year’s Resolutions

With the turning of the calender and the coming of the new year we make our resolutions. Do you have a 2014 resolution that will mean your evolution as a climber?

In January, climbing gyms flood with old and new climbers. By February there are less and by March the numbers have dwindled even more, many climbers head outdoors, but others give up on their resolution. Why?

People make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves. Making resolutions work involves changing behaviours by changing your thinking. Climbers make small and big goals all year, make the new year a time to forget about 2013’s failures and successes and start fresh.

One of the reasons climbers give up on their goals is self sabotage. An accumulation of small thoughts can derail you. Things such as fear, self doubt, comparing yourself to others, thinking you should be doing better. Eventually, these things add up and you say, “I don’t want to train tonight, what’s the point.”

Tiffany Melius Photo The Hive
Tiffany Melius
Photo The Hive

Here are some tips that might help you maintain your focus.

Focus on one resolution, rather than several and set realistic, specific goals. Climbing harder is not specific, climbing a letter grade harder in 30 days is.

Don’t wait till New Year’s eve to make resolutions. Make small goals every month.

Take small steps. Don’t focus on the end goal, focus on the small improvements required to reach it. “I want to climb 5.13a, but I will have to improve my balance and finger strength first.”

Discover the type of climbing you are best at and excel at it such as power versus technical or roofs versus slabs.

Have a climbing partner who trains with you, knows your goal and keeps you focused.

After each success towards your end goal, reassess and stay focused.

Focus your thinking on new behaviours and thought patterns to change training habits such as new hangboard workouts, endurance versus power, etc.

Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal? If it is a rest day, how can you continue training? Yoga, core, etc.

Be mindful. Become physically, mentally and emotionally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment-by-moment, rather than living in the past or future. Focus on the climb that you are on, not the one you want to try.

Don’t take yourself to seriously. Have fun and laugh at yourself when you fall, it’s just climbing. Anger, shouting and cursing in the climbing gym or at the crag is ugly. It is healthy to be passionate about climbing, letting it dictate your life and your decisions, but do not let it own you.

Sonnie Trotter, always having fun, on Castles in the Sky, 5.14  Photo Ben Moon
Sonnie Trotter, always having fun, on Castles in the Sky, 5.14 Photo Ben Moon

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Climbers

1. Climb a number grade harder: Climbing is not about how hard you climb, but grades can be a great way to challenge yourself. Some climbers make their climbing life only about grades, always trying to one-up themselves. Others only climb for fun, never worrying about the grade. Whether grades are or are not your thing, maybe 2014 is the year you push your personal best from a 5.10a to a 5.11a or from a 5.13a to a 5.14a. Visit Will Gadd’s blog to read articles about training.

2. Climb at a new crag: Canada has hundreds of crags. Look for crags close to home that you are not aware of. Hit the road and travel somewhere new. Check out websites such as the Crag for ideas.

3. Learn a new type of climbing: Some climbers are boulderers, others are ice climbers, while some are generalists who will do any type of climbing at any time. If you are new to climbing and only climb indoors, try outdoors. If you have climbed only on limestone, go find some granite or sandstone.

4. Get a friend into climbing: Every climber started somewhere, no one was born wearing sticky shoes and a harness. Maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend took you to the gym, maybe your university buddy brought you ice climbing, maybe your parents signed you up to a youth team. The more people that climb, the better.

5. Read a climbing book: There are hundreds of climbing books, more than most sports combined. Jack Roberts, international climbing pioneer, said, “Climbing and adventure stories lend themselves to good storytelling because they’re about events and places that are out of the ordinary in every way,” says writer and mountaineer Jack Tackle. “If someone possesses the skills to write or talk about their experiences well, then the stories can be compelling and interesting to a lot of people. Many will never climb a mountain or kayak some rad river, or ski a sick line. But they will want to read and hear about it because it may motivate them to do something different, or change how they look at the world.”

6. Learn to lead and take a whipper: Many climbers only boulder or top rope, the thrill of lead climbing is unlike any other in climbing. Climb with experienced lead climbers, contact a club such as the Alpine Club of Canada or guiding company and learn to lead. Learn how to fall, there is an art to it, practice makes perfect.

7. Try a multi-pitch: Almost every province in Canada has multi-pitch climbing. Ask around, find competent climbers who can show you the ropes and go get up high.

Grassi Lakes.  Make climbing at a new crag a new years resolution  Photo Semmy Semm
Grassi Lakes. Make climbing at a new crag a new years resolution Photo Semmy Semm