Five trips. Boulder, Colorado. Red Rocks, Nevada. Himalayas, Nepal. Banff, Canada. Joshua Tree National Park, California.
On my way back from San Frnacisco, I counted them up. Five climbing trips. And likely a sixth to British Columbia, Canada, before the year is out. Six trips just to go climbing in 2010. Ice, rock, alpine. And that’s just the big stuff out of state.
But the problem is, I sucked at climbing on pretty much every single trip. Really. I’m not some 5.14/WI8/Everest type of climbing belittling my abilities. I’m a decent climber when I’m focused but on these trips I wasn’t at the peak (har har) of my game.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not, in the least, complaining about any of the trips. They were all encompassingly awesome, without a doubt. The people I met, the scenery, the camaraderie around the campfire. The photography opportunities, the laughs and the challenge was all top notch.
My last trip, climbingly speaking, sucked. I flailed, I floundered, I failed. I won’t even state the grade of climbs I couldn’t lead or complete because my normally solid ego fears the opportunity for ridicule. Let’s just say, I can do better.
Which has me thinking; why did I put in so much effort to go on these trips, and so much cash, but not focus on making sure I was in top shape? While my technique could use some help, what stopped me a most often was physical ability. Not being able to hold on to the rock or the tools. It’s something that can be worked on before a trip, but the focus was not there.
So I sit on the train now, on my way home, with a possible trip planned next month to hit some ice in a foreign land (yeah, Canada). After that, the climbing calendar is pretty open, with a number of possibles (Mt. Rainier, The Gunks, more ice in WA, Leavenworth rock, etc…) but nothing is solid. Even when something is solid, like the Himalayas, I find I have trouble focusing on the goal in order to make training a priority, thus making the trip more satisfying in the climbing realm.
I can make a number of excuses, but I really despise doing that. Make your situation better of shut up, is one of my mottos. Quit yer bitchin’, would be another.
With that in mind, and realizing that a climbing gym is a real expense (both getting there and using it) that needs to balanced with family time, what advice do you have as a climber, or other sports athlete, for keeping training in focus when there isn’t a clear goal in mind?
And if you are a climber, what advice would you have for me to train at home when I can only get to a climbing gym maybe four times in a month?
Thank you kindly, in advance, for your help in making sure I flounder less.