Keeping you Honest - a post from Naomi

A busy day at Sector Berlin, Ceuse.

As a diversion from Neal's musings I've decided to join in the blogging for some reflections of my own. This may be a good one to read if you have the time or it's raining!

Yesterday underneath Biography wall in Ceuse we got chatting to some friends of ours from Bristol. Pretty strong climbers by any standards - they had tried some routes at their grade in Ceuse and received generous amounts of smackdown! One guy joked that you really have nowhere to hide on some of the routes, that they 'keep you honest'.

I think for me this is why I really love Ceuse and route climbing in general. As much honesty as you have to have with yourself and your abilities there is an equal humility. No getting too big for your boots here, with 12 year olds on your left romping up to 7b/7c warm up s and the next superhero on your right breaking some new project. Having been here for 3 summers now, I've also seen many people put in their place as such - or at least feel like they have.

I think this year in Ceuse has really showed me that generally for route climbing here, you need strong fingers and lots and lots of fitness! No fancy core/shoulder/back/leg strengthening sessions needed - just strong fingers, fitness and mentality (you'll get enough of this from constant steep climbing anyway).

I think to succeed here, the question to be constantly asking yourself, is how do I figure this out for me? How can I work this move? Where can I rest? What is the best solution for my abilities? Forget about what everyone else is doing and tune into your own climbing. I think this is where there can be a lot of intimidation and dejection.

I've trained for climbing for 2 years now. Last year was my first year training and everything was a gain obviously from my level of 0! After last summer I really wanted to concentrate on bouldering and using it as a tool to make me stronger for moves on routes. This has definitely helped and having that extra power does show through. Its an area I really shy away from, being attracted to longer, technical more endurancy climbing.

I had a trip in June to Gorge du Tarn, prior to the trip I worked 4 weeks of complete endurance. It paid off on my trip and I sent my hardest redpoint and some good flashes/onsights. When I got home I had a month of no work and time to train. I was doing a lot but on reflection now - nothing specific. I got lost in a disbelief that I had enough endurance so I didn't need to work that, I focused on trying to get my strength up but with no real direction. I took my eye off the ball.
Major lesson learnt! I lost any endurance that I had and didn't necessarily need some of the bouldering strength I'd been trying to gain. At the end of the day, it's brilliant to be away and just on real rock, but for me the ultimate aim is to always feel like I'm learning, like I'm making progress and that the efforts I'm putting in will reap rewards.

For future trips I feel it's really important to ask, what kind of problems/routes am I training for, what do I want to achieve and be specific. In this way, you'll stay focused and hopefully any surprises will be positive!

In ticklist related news, for 2010 my aim was to get 10 new 7's in the season - achieved. Following this, for 2011, it was 11 - I got 3 7's in the Tarn (including a new hardest grade), 1 in Orpierre and 4 so far in Ceuse - so with 3 more routes to reach my goal, hopes are high!

In interesting statistics, I worked out, so far this year I've had approximately 40 days on real rock - this will probably be the sum total, bar a bit of bouldering and a trip at Christmas. Interesting to think if you consider mental conditioning as part of the training regime. Every trip requires real psyche and focus to believe in your capabilities or days are lost trying to build confidence, fear of falling, climbing around people in busy crags, etc.

We don't have an affluence of outdoor sport climbing in Ireland - but with the right attitude - achievement is as close as you want it.