Table Mountain by Dave Sarkar

by Dan Crossdale
Posted: 13th Dec 2016
Tags: Dave Sarkar, Scarpa

Blog Sponsored by Scarpa UK

 

Table Mountain

Well 2016 has nearly ended and what a tumultuous year it has been, work has been good if a little too busy and I haven’t done anywhere near as much climbing as I was planning to. On the whole though, seismic policies like events withstanding, the year has been productive and successful. The reason for this is the way I begun to measure success, I have acknowledged that although the physical aspect of climbing is important, there is so much more to a life of climbing than just that. I discovered several years ago that if I continued to measure my success purely on the grade I had climbed or the number of routes I had climbed I was going to live a life of continual disappointment.

So I began to reconstruct how I viewed my climbing through a much broader lens and adopted a sports psychology model based on not just performance but the 4 pillars of a successful self in the hope that looking after all the elements of myself it would lead to to me enjoying my climbing more and less frustration.

If you imagine that your whole self is a table: holding up the table are 4 legs/pillars these legs are your emotioanal, physical, psychological and spiritual needs. When these legs are strong the table can support a great load and when one of these legs is shorter than the others the table begins to wobble and if a leg is missing the table will fall. So maintaining the 4 legs is critical to developing high quality support for your climbing.

Let’s take a closer look at each as to how they can affect your climbing and how to develop a strategy to build a strong and supportive pillar:

Emotional

Let me give you clear example of how the deterioration of this leg will severely affect your climbing. Just before you leave the house to go climbing a message pings on your phone asking if you can go into work that day (even though you had booked it off). What do you do, either way it will not leave you alone all day. You can’t ignore it – do you message back and say sorry I can’t do it and fret all day whether you did the right thing. Or do you go in and resent the fact that you aren’t climbing today?

The answer lies in how much you value the climbing day? If you are about to send your project the likely hood is you wouldn’t do it. So you need a change of tack – call in and ask what the problem is. Do they really need you? Maybe someone else is available to do that shift. The emotional leg needs a lot of resilience in order to support it, the value of climbing that day is very high and being determined to keep it is important. When you have invested emotional energy into your climbing you can reap the untold benefits.

Another way I have invested in supporting my emotional base is to climb more with friends and record it – through selfies, Facebook posts and more privately journaling using Day One. This felt really silly at first but the more I do it the more resource I have to refer to when I need to remind my to be grateful for my climbing life.

Chasing the flow

 

Physical

Hopefully you read my posts on a regular basis so have a good understanding that The Depot is a training facility as well as a great social network. You should spend a good amount of time investing in being physically fit to enjoy your climbing. This leg, more than any other causes me the most ‘wobble’. The nature of my work means I work away regularly and then when I come back I tend to go overboard and binge on training. This then manifests itself as a very fatigued climber indeed who id tired, grumpy and in high danger of becoming injured. The answer to this has been to vary my exercise more (see how I renamed training to exercising) intelligently. More gentle running (I console myself with the fact that Bruce Lee never ran more than 6kms), more easy bike rides and plenty of climbing outside (where I am investing in the spiritual). I go real easy climbing inside as I know that injury is never far away. I feel fitter and healthier than I have been for years and once more although I struggle to climbing as hard as other people I can climb well when I need to.

Psychological

I’m not just talking about sports psychology here, although investing time in developing a strong psychological resilience to stress whilst climbing is always time well spent and maybe the theme of a post in 2017. Here I’m talking about developing a toolkit that helps when the pressures of daily 21st century family life begin to get me down. Very few of us are immune to these pressures – the need to earn money, other people demanding our time and the myriad other distractions that affect our climbing in many ways.

Tools I have been investing in are similar to the emotional leg – being grateful for my health and the fact that I can go climbing. Living more in the moment and not fretting about what may happen in the future or worry about things that have happen in the past. Climbing is all about developing a ‘flow’ moment, I’m sure you have experienced this for yourself. You are climbing well and the problems just keep falling into place. When you are climbing you get the holds just right, apply just the right amount of strength to send it. You’re not even aware of anything or anybody around you. Well that’s MIndfullness in heaps and climbing can give you that whenever to want to have it, just lose yourself in the climbing moment and enjoy life at it’s very best.

Time spent in the mountains is good for the soul.

 

Spiritual

This is probably the most neglected part of ourselves but the part we should be investing lot’s of time in. How joyful was I when I bought Gimme Kraft Air to find a whole section on Yoga. I have been slowly enjoying Yoga for over a year now and always feel better after a short but mindful yoga session. Being a middle aged dad I’m far too embarrassed to attend an actual class (although I have a close friend who does and says it’s brilliant so who knows) so I use an iPad app to help me. I was chatting to Tom over at the Manchester Depot recently who said that the Yoga and climb sessions were very popular – so people clearly see the benefit.

There is more to Yoga than just the flexibility element however, breathing and being mindful are key parts of the Yoga process and the flexibility element is a happy byproduct. Another way to build up your spiritual resilience is to boulder and climb outside more. Immersing yourself in nature is a sure fire method of enjoying your spiritual pillar. More than ever I find that bouldering alone offers me the very best way to be a little spiritual in my day and I have spent time actively seeking out solitude in nature with awesome boulders to climb. It doesn't matter about the grade as long as I am challenged on the day.

The end of the year and the coming holiday period are all great times to reflect on the past year, one way to reflect on what is important is to write about (I’m a big journal fan) a recent climbing trip but do not mention route/problem names or the grades you climbed. You will then have a different perspective on what you get out of climbing and you should always be asking yourself why you climb and what you get out of it. Spend lots of 2017 developing balance in the 4 legs of your climbing life and the reward will be a stronger more resilient self.


In the end my personal answer to why I climb is the desire to continually push myself so I can begin to figure out what I’m made of, which will hopefully be before I pop my clogs!
 

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