Why trad climbers should sport climb more, and The community

"If there is no perceived value in learning, their is no desire to learn."

It's not just all climbing at Ceuse ;) Nothing like a bit of rest day fun.....

So the Belgians came and went once again (Damo's great blog post of their visit, along with the fantastic club exchange that occurred alongside it here), hiking loads of the routes at Ailladie in the Burren. One of the interesting insights picked up from years ago was watching the relative fitness levels of sport climbers, especially in comparison to trad climbers...... Having spoken to one or two of the Irish climbers who were present at Ailladie with Team Belgium, it's evident that they were blown away by the comfort level of the climbers while route climbing. Think about it: could you go straight from trad onto decent level sport climbing on your first day? It's not likely, fitness doesn't come on that quickly unfortunately! However, within a day, many of the only-sport-climbers-until-a-few-hours-ago group were hiking up and down routes in the Burren that are regarded as respectable test pieces on trad. How so? I'd put it down that due to the fact that their fitness levels are so good, it's easy to concentrate on just figuring out how to place gear - not figuring out how to place the gear and getting more and more pumped! A description of one of the climbers finding out how to place a wire while locked off for a few minutes at the start of Blockhead, a steep E5, makes me smile :)

Of course, it's not all about performance though (and rightly so!), many would argue this. But if you don't think you could benefit from some extra fitness.......

The other side I'm really thinking about in the past while is the community as a whole. What has changed in the past few years? There's obviously new walls starting to appear (not to mention the Co-Ops), it's a complete no-brainer that having bigger/better facilities will increase average standards. But there's other factors. The Internet for example. It's hard to believe but only in the past 12/14 years has it caused a bit of a change. Think about how easily word of new ascents, other climbers in your community ticking routes, group trips and all the photos of amazing locations, even blogs of waffle such as this one! :), allow information to spread. Again, being controversial (twice in a week, yay!), but before the 'net appeared, the climbing scene was very 'clicky', you had to get in with the right crowd to gain their insights and learn from their experiences. The other option was to be delusional and/or psyched and self-teach yourself from the ground up how to improve (seems daft to have to re-invent the wheel however, why not build on the shoulders of those who have gone before you?!). Now, it's easy to jump online and, again, through the likes of this blog (I always remember being chuffed after being recently told that an Irish climber being happy to read this blog as it gave him ideas about training and it's possibilities - even if it only gave ideas of what works, what doesn't, and even what he could take and optimize to progress even further), learn about what is being done by other Irish climbers (look at the great collection of posts on Ciaran's blog about his recent road-trip around Germany and Switzerland recently as a great example - good photos, inspiring stories, etc.). Of course, it's not just the possibility of Irish climbers either, you get to find out what is happening abroad.

It's now easy to find examples such as this of 'normal' people who were motivated! Taken from Totolore's blog

I'd been thinking about this a bit since Ceuse as usual, mainly as Ceuse is a melting pot of motivation, and community. Everyone is there to try their best, and also to feed off each other. You always leave with new ideas, inspiration, a new perception of what is possible. The only difference is now, lots of people are coming back with these ideas of possibilities, and applying these on the wider community as a whole. "pushing yourself" isn't for everyone, don't get me wrong, but there's a group of people who love doing it, and it's fantastic that so many are working together now for the same things.

Of course, this is nothing new in the rest of sport - see this great article about how the USA is now doing so well at long-distance running (they've always been good in the short, power disciplines) - again, a major factor being attributed to different runners motivating each other. For many other sports participation means beating an opponent, but the nature of climbing allows it to be competitive with other climbers, simply with oneself, or not even competitive at all! Still though, being aware of what others are doing provides inspiration and raises the standards of all who interact.........

Thankfully, I don't feel like I'm the only one saying these things, Shauna Coxsey thankfully supports my case here in her musings last week:
"One of the things that I love most about climbing is the social aspect, I see a lot of my climbing friends like family. I first started climbing at the North West Face in Warrington, it is not a very big wall but the atmosphere was always so welcoming and everyone no matter how old or how strong would chat and climb together. I think that starting climbing in a small wall and not having very much to go at meant people pushed themselves more, tried hard things even knowing they couldn’t do them. Problems and routes naturally became projects and limits were inevitably pushed. Now that climbing walls offer such a huge amount at all levels people don’t really get forced into pushing themselves the way they once did, with competitive climbing coming more into the limelight and the potential for it to feature in such major events this could be the thing that pushes British climbing up to the next level.
The sports is changing, developing and progressing across all disciplines indoors and outdoors both in and out of competition. So much has changed with out me realising and I want to try to be part of ensuring the development and progression is positive."

See that comment at top of this post? ("If there is no perceived value in learning, their is no desire to learn." in case you've forgotten). It was taken from a non-climbing coaching seminar I watched last week by SportsCoachUK - a retweet of a post by someone else watching it. That's another factor in why progression in climbing is picking up pace in Ireland. With access to better walls, people are trying harder and harder things (outside, but the indoors helps them stay motivated) and finding a reason to start progressing. Again, not a competitive thing (although I'd be willing to bet that some egos will appear as people get upset they're not the 'best'!) but purely just because it's interesting and fun to see what you can do.
If you want to watch the seminar (highly recommended, especially if you're a coach), the first two hours of it is excellent - find it here.

You think you'd be able to get some motivation/ideas for improving from watching/talking to them? Just a small collection of the fun, amazing 'well known' climbers you meet at Ceuse. And do you think they look unhappy from pushing their own performance......? Photo: Paul Soo

My own winter plans kick off now. I'm hoping for a short trip to Spain in October, then settle into a long 4-month block of training for a possible trip in February. That doesn't mean I'm only training of course, I'll be aiming to get out on the Wicklow granite (and hopefully Fair Head bouldering) as much as I can at weekends. Bring. It. On!
How am I doing this? Writing some goals:
- a long-term one. I.e. where I'd like to be in a year
- a medium term one. I.e. where I'd like to be in 5 months (expansion of list below, and also something - route/problem/boulder - to aim to do).
a short-term one. I.e. what I'd like to be able to do in 4-6 weeks (measurable goals, like do 5 grade xx problems at the wall in one night, be able to hang a new hold type one/two-armed for xx seconds, be able to climb for xx minutes non-stop at a certain level, etc.)


Ceuse 2012 - route fitness in climbing