Coaching with the group last week

One of the great parts of the past week was just spending time supporting and coaching the kids. As always, I'm so stoked to just be away and at crags that I love, especially long pitches of limestone with bolts to clip :)

but the primary fun (it is work, but it's hard to describe it as that although you are wrecked after it) was just motivating the kids, getting them onto problems or routes that they are capable of. the first week even I was apprehensive! I had a dodgy, untested, ankle and without climbing (other than pulling up and down on a doorframe repetitively) for two months, my own confidence in climbing was not the highest. So much of the week was just pointing various people at various problems, brushing holds, spotting, etc and just letting them get on with it. With Rob Hunter around anyway, I didn't need to demo or try problems - he ticked almost every problem on the Carnage boulder in the space of an evening, including two 8a's!).

but by the end of the week as I got more and more into the setup and scene, it dawned on me that if I was suffering from confidence issues, I doubt I was the only person, that I'm sure some of the younger climbers had things there were concerned with! Maybe not confidence, but skin issues, pacing themselves, etc. All things I knew about so I thought that I may as well turn it into a positive and get on with it as the trip developed. As it happened, I was having to work hard on a lot of routes that the kids were hiking but I could see technical tricks some were missing, some others were getting pacing wrong (climbing too fast in sections when technique and calmness was required, not moving fast enough at times when it was better to just go for it, etc.) and just getting some of them onto routes that they were more than capable of.

I won't name names in case of embarrassment but all went through various stages over the trip: bad skin so doubting ability to do routes, nervous while above bolts or clipping, getting through crux and then trying to rush the final slabby sections, slight injury tweaks that dictated resting or just pushing through, etc. and it was great to see they all left having gained experience in of these skills. So much of climbing isn't just physical, and with only two weeks it's impossible to really improve that side of things, it was great to see them all improving grades and climbing skillset. I'm humbled and inspired from them all!!!!!
Neal McQuaidComment