by Ty Vineyard
Take inventory of where you are now. This takes a lot of discipline and humility. The amount of accountability required to express true capability without excuses is carried out by few. Be realistic, do not overextend yourself for the sake of appearing more capable than you are. We see it at both the gym and the crag; “ego lifting” and “ego hang-dogging.” You are not helping yourself grow by attempting a heavy lift or doing a route for the sake of appearing a certain way. Or for the reaction you think others will give you when talking about it.
I hear it nearly every time I am at the crag. Hours worth of dialogue filled with excuses on why there is a lack of performance. Excuses to mitigate perceived image while struggling with what others may deem to be a moderate warm-up. Rather than having the discipline and humility to ask “Why am I unprepared?”, they scramble to validate their excuses and convince themselves and those around them that they are the capable climbers that they claim to be.
There is no need to convince those around you of your capabilities.
Show up for yourself. Express your capability in the form of action. When the opportunity arose to climb with some of my heroes and mentors, I was scared of looking incapable or foolish. I quickly learned that the only thing that matters is trying, I learned that it did not matter who was there, the only thing that mattered was tying in and trying. The only way I could express incapability was the unwillingness to embrace discomfort. Having the capability to endure discomfort is habit based. Like all habits starting small with frequency develops it, in conjunction with the discipline to consistently engage with discomfort. Another key point with discomfort is that you will never “arrive”. Becoming “comfortable with discomfort” is a life-long pursuit. You must consistently engage with discomfort.
Consistently spend time under load within your parameters of capability. If you have yet to climb 12a, it may not be in your best interest to “ego-dog” around on a 12c. Spend less time talking about the hard routes that you want to do and do the work to get there. Consistently engaging with terrain that is within your parameters of growth will produce results far faster than hanging on a route far beyond your limit. Building a route pyramid is a great example. Do you want to climb 12a? How many 11b to 11d’s have you done? Check the boxes and you will send 12a far faster by putting in the time filling out your pyramid. It is often overlooked how low your pyramid needs to go. This is another great time to directly apply humility. The grades in your pyramid are based on your hardest redpoint in the last year. The hardest route from the last twelve months will be your “tier 4” route”.
Tier 1: (10 routes) 11a or 11b
Tier 2: (8 routes) 11c
Tier 3: (4 routes) 11d
Tier 4: (2 routes) 12a
Tier 5: (1-3 routes) 12b
Not sure where to begin?
We have training plans available for any level athlete!
A pyramid can also be a great time to practice discipline, as it takes a lot of it to work your way through this format. Remember that toprope ascents do not count, and neither do near sends. Trying to find ways to fast-track the pyramid will not produce results, do the work.
How often do you verbally excuse a lack of performance to anyone who is close enough to listen? Answering those questions truthfully will take discipline that many do not have. If you are making decisions for your climbing based on how you want to appear to others, you may need a vibe check.
Start where you are, develop a plan, and execute. The only way you can change your situation is by taking accountability and doing. Arm yourself with the tool of having a thought-out plan and approach to improving. When developing this plan, utilize the tools around you. Get on ClimbStrong.com, read, talk to a coach. Put as many tools in your kit as you can, so when it comes time to execute you have been accountable enough to give yourself an edge. Build a plan, and do the most important things first. If being consistent in either the gym or the crag is an issue, develop a plan to build the habit. Unfortunately, none of this is on a switch that can just get flipped. Building the habit of consistency takes discipline and small choices of excellence. Your plan may start as simple as climbing five new pitches during your day at the crag, or making it to the gym even if your day went sideways. The hard part is actually doing it, even if it is the bare minimum. Work general to specific. As your capacity and discipline for doing work increases the plan can become more specific.
A part of executing is seeing it through to the end, regardless of the outcome. We all know that you cannot rely on motivation, instead be disciplined. Express enough discipline to see it all the way through. Just doing one session or even half the program will not likely get you to where you want to go. Speak less, more doing. You can talk all that you want, however, the only thing that will make it happen is action.
Don’t be afraid to step up and fail. Do not seek to convince, control, or impress, be a machine of effort. Show up with a willingness to try, to fail, and to learn. Embrace the process, you cannot avoid it. You can “fake it till you make it” in a lot of aspects of your life, however, physical performance cuts out all opportunities for it. Take inventory and be realistic about where you are now. Have the discipline, humility, and patience to admit where you are. You will get to your goal faster by embracing this and operating accordingly, rather than operating as if you were farther along in your journey.
Originally from Kemmerer, Wyoming, Ty coaches for Elemental Performance + Fitness and works for Climb Strong in Lander, Wyoming. Along with coaching, Ty guides throughout Wyoming and Utah. He is currently an AMGA Apprentice Rock and Alpine Guide and Certified Single Pitch Instructor. His interests in climbing range from alpine to sport climbing and the disciplines that connect them all.