Summer catch-up!

Good links:

  • The video above of Dai Koyomada ticking 'The Story of Two Worlds'. Fascinating look into the motivation/dedication. Heard a great story recently that he turned up at one of the top-level comps in the States about several years ago, and proceded to all but one of the problems in his trainers!
  • Ben Moon's diary from when he climbed Hubble - look at the amount of climbing he's doing back in the 80's....
  • Bill Ramsey in the States climbing 8c - at aged 52. No excuses for anyone then!
  • Amazing photo diary of Australia from photographer Keith Ladzinski (who offered to come to ireland years ago when I spoke to him - worth asking again?)
  • The ultra classic 'Just Do It' in the States gets it's first ascent by a non-pro, Ryan Palo. He writes an amazing post describing the dedication and effort he required to do it - and also that it can be pretty draining too!
  • Irish climber Damien O'Sullivan's lovely post about Ceuse as he nears the end of his massive road-trip, and his progression into new grade levels.
  • Ricky Bell's ace video on training while injured..... :)

Wow, it's been ages. and since I have no guarantee I'll be updating for a while, I won't make any promises here.....perhaps it's time this blog goes to rest for a while.......

Suffice to say I've been busy. Nope, not climbing (if only!) although I have managed a couple of days of trad (**see bottom of post for that experience!). Working, lots of work (like 14 weekends in 7 months without taking other days in between) sort of working. Mental. Of course, it's not a complaint because the job is doing essentially what this blog was set out to do - promoting climbing, and including performance climbing, that climbing hard isn't something that happens naturally, it's takes dedicated practice. Demonstrating that it's not just a gift you're born with - like all other sports, it can be improved with practice (see the book mentioned below....)! That last word is the important bit, but I'm not doing much of it myself so evident that it's not always so easy. Such is life eh? :)

In between this anyway, it's been great just watching all the others being active. The youths tearing it up indoors, outdoors, comps, you name it. The new crop coming through from university, of which most of them seem to be in Ceuse. Average grades seem to be creeping up, who's going to be the first to climb 8c? Who's going to be the first to climb 9a?! Hasn't been done yet, but it's not far off I'd guess. And yes, it's hard (notable example being it took James Pearson a year of living in Austria to go from 8c to 9a), but no, it's not as impossible as you'd think. 7a is impressive, so is 8a, so is 9a. And all achievable - by the time 9a is ticked, will 8a be common? I know a lot of people climbing this now, but I know a hell of a lot more people who are capable of doing it but haven't - not thinking about what is required, preparing properly, becoming good at just plastic, etc. I also know what will be happening from the youth coming through today once they go off on their own adventures.......not only do they love climbing, but they've grown into climbing with that curious, open, mindset to push themselves for their own fun and enjoyment.

Ondra bottled the flash attempt on Realization (probably not helped by the 50-odd-person from crowd live-tweeting the ascent below!), turns out even he can get psyched out. Give it another 3?/5? years before it does get a flash anyway? probably likely. But of course, he's not a natural either - he prepares consistently and with smart focus (great interview here). This all might sound mad, but I'm reading a book - amazing called 'Bounce' (Amazon UK/Ireland link):
Bounce is a very interesting and thought provoking book. It basically argues that for any significantly complex human activity (especially sports like tennis, football and golf, and games like chess) natural talent is of pretty low importance because the wiring of the brain required to succeed can only be achieved through a massive amount of "purposeful" practice. The end result of this practice is often mistaken for natural talent, but in fact the trait most high achievers have in common is a willingness to work harder than their peers and a belief that this hard work will drive greater improvement and success, not a belief in their fixed superiority.
Of course, climbing has lots of variables other than running down a 100 meter track, etc. but there's still a lot of specifics that can be improved on with practice. Smart practice, the right mindset, motivated peers, etc.......i.e. not just natural talent. And if you want an alternative view on this, here's Arnie to give you some verbal motivation! (I'm not kidding :)

As you can see, climbing on the brain as much as ever! And I'm sure this post makes no sense whatsoever, I've been working too many hours to think properly :)

** My trad re-introduction was 'interesting'. Trad is that wonderful art where so much of it is just mental, being comfortable above gear, etc.
I find, and found recently with a quick top-rope of the E5 'Grey Dawn' in the Burren, that up to that level (E4/5), I find the climbing very straight-forward and easy physically (my training for sport has made it this way). But my mental state is not in that place right now - had two complete melt-downs while out on Dublin/Wicklow granite - I mean complete MELT-DOWNS!. Such is life, and I'm not pushing it - the love of trad will return in time (it's the first time I've ever been out trad climbing, and genuinely did not want to be there). Alan Cassidy, a strong climber I've met on several occasions and now manager of TCA Glasgow (the amazing new bouldering wall there), has been writing some great posts about trad - well worth a read here starting from "Not the Big Trad Man". Sums up my own head-games and to be honest I'm almost enjoying the experience of being genuinely afraid on trad gear! Stories of a well known climbing contact of mine, Hazel Findlay, don't help either - ouch!
Right now, I'm happy to just enjoy whatever climbing I can get on, and even trad-wise (a day at Fair Head on E1's showed it can return, 5 pieces of gear in 30 meters showed to myself that I can still comfortably climb above gear when get settled).

Ceuse Report - and my criteria for climbing a new grade

Rock Shoes