Journeyman - By Dave Sarkar

by Dan Crossdale
Posted: 4th Apr 2016

Blog sponsored by Scarpa.


Well, we’re getting into March and those New Year resolutions seem very distant. I’ve written before about resolutions and how they can be a distraction, especially for climbing and how you need to keep the focus on climbing if that is what will make you the most happy.

So my climbing goals for 2016 are quite simple, I want to train well without getting injured so that I can feel fit, healthy and strong. Another goal is try and keep the climbing going when I’m working, you’d be astonished at how little climbing I actually get done as an outdoor instructor and guide. Last season I didn’t managed any of my climbing goals so this year I am developing a plan that will allow me to train a little when working, this involves running and bouldering as they are two activities I can fit in anytime. I am also using my fingerboard and The Depot gym more effectively as these are a fantastically efficient way to train.

On top of that I have been visiting The Depot Manchester, if you haven’t been there yet – what planet have you been living on! It really is the best bouldering venue I have ever been to; and I’ve been to a few over the years. Climbers are very much spoilt for choice these days and there is no excuse to plateau in your training as the variety of training and outdoor bouldering is vast.


Training for endurance, to be fit enough to commit when needed - Hetchell

So to the journeyman aspect of this month’s post. I’ve been re-reading The Rock Warriors Way by Arno Ilgner. This is the second time through I have also read Espresso Lessons which is his follow up book. I read them cover to cover, they are not the type of read that you can dip in and out of, they need to read with attention and several times so the messages get in deep.
If you haven’t read them they are brilliant, like all good books they take an established mindset and explore the main concepts through the eye of climbing. Warrior philosophy and climbing go together absolutely perfectly and this isn’t about zen meditation or hacking people to pieces with swords. It’s about being responsible for your actions, assessing and taking risks, committing with intention and the growth of personal power (mental not physical) though a learning mindset. All this fits neatly to my own philosophy on life – that it’s the journey and the learning that is important. Achievement is a pleasant by product of the process and although it is the focus of the event, I am not measuring my self worth on the outcome.

Even though I have been climbing for over thirty years I am still considering myself as a journeyman, using climbing as the medium in which I challenge myself. This is how I have tried to live some years now but the issue has been that although I’m climbing better, I’m not climbing harder. I have tried to lie to myself and tell myself that climbing better is all that matters, but at the end of the day it is a lie. The challenge isn’t quite there as I’m not placing myself in positions where I can test myself properly.

The challenge is to train effectively so that I am fitter, stronger and more mentally able to commit to forward movement when the situation demands it. I’m backing off far too often, I’ve done all the falling off training so but still just kidding myself that it’s OK to keep operating in my comfort zone.

The perfect outdoor venue to test your strength - Kilnsey.

I have started on a short programme of strength training, this consists of general strength training in the back room and I’m using a programme from Steve House’s training bible – Training for the New Alpinism and a series of limit bouldering (where I just complete a set series of 2-3 move problems) on the lower angled Beastmaker board in the back room. The reason I use this board and not the main boulder problems is that the centre of the board is symmetrical so I complete the exact same problem for my right and left arm.
When the strength begins to improve I will then move onto a pull up regime for a while. My pull up record was 37 when I was younger, these days I’m more focussed a quality so when I can do 10 reps, I add weight, drop the reps to 5 and build back up to 10. I repeat this, adding more weight when required. Hopefully a period of strength training together with further development of the ‘commit’ mindset will be just the prompt I need to take the next step on my journey.

The concept of a journeyman is nothing new, a journeyman is a person who has completed an apprenticeship and is on the journey to mastery. They are sometimes taken under the wing of a master (a modern approach to this would be a coach) but not beholden to the master as an apprentice is. In a sports context a journeyman often applied to a boxer (or martial artist), he or she has the skill but, once more, is not considered a master of the sport.
So, the journeyman neatly expresses the concept of a climber who is in pursuit of mastery. A journeyman would have sufficient skills to climb well, they would approach challenges with a growth mindset, asking themselves ‘what opportunities for growth are presented to me here’. They would commit when the time felt right and not be ashamed of not taking the challenge when it doesn’t. When they do commit, they commit with intention and with full attention, they commit to the process they have decided will be successful.
A journeyman understands that overtraining and getting injured blocks the path and that rest is as important as training and that weaknesses can be overcome with skill and patience. They also seek out adventure in all its forms and when suffering is required they become stoic.

The road to mastery is a long and difficult one, most of us will never make the end (I’ve been trying for over 30 years). But we can enjoy and learn from the journey and that is enough to fulfil and satisfy us.

Hopefully, you will be excited at the coming Spring season and itching to put all that training to good use when the weather warms up. And remember: every hold you pull on makes you stronger.




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