2023 annual review!

Well I seem to only manage a blog post once a year, but thats mainly as I get wrapped up in what I’m doing and forget to take a step back.

This year just gone by was the first time in a long time that I felt really well and managed to get some consistency back in my climbing. Twice a week isn’t much by many people’s standards, but knowing I could have a ropes session on a Thursday and follow it up with a boulder on a Friday, and not be too wiped out on Saturday, was amazing. I have been massively helped in a journey back to fitness and enjoying my climbing by two good friends who share a sense of curiosity and exploration of climbing, and are not too focused on grades or competing! Its amazing to think that today, on my 49th birthday, I’m basically bouldering harder than I managed in my 20’s and 30’s despite being objectively less strong and somewhat heavier. I put that down to relying heavily on technique but also the oft-neglected skill of ‘just try it’. I think I have been guilty in the past of only trying what I thought I could complete, whereas now I try anything that looks interesting, challenging, fun, or something I like the look of. Being open minded rather than having expectations about what I ‘should’ be able to climb has allowed me to weather the bad days without too much frustration, and embrace the good days.

Speaking to expectations, I have been blown away by all the positive comments, feedback and reviews I have had for my books and workshops. I do put a lot of thought into curating learning experiences which provide high quality scientific info in a digestible format, and trying to embed the learning deeply through experiential exercises. Its lovely to hear that I’m on the right track. Memorable workshops in 2023 included WCS X “Train your brain”, WCS 2023 “Cheerleaders and Drill Sergeants”, presenting three risk sessions at Kendal. The engagement from the audiences was brilliant at each, and it gives me a real buzz to deliver and chat to people afterwards about how to personalise the messages. And I haven’t been put off writing after finishing my book Climb Smarter, with plans afoot for some more workbooks on different mental training topics.

The one thing that still keeps me awake at night however is the climate crisis. With the world hitting 1.4 degrees over pre-industrial levels in 2023, we have to act now. Personal action is important and I think we all know what we need to do, but also lobbying government and big business to do more is crucial. As a business, I’m trying hard to reduce Smart Climbing’s carbon emissions through this low carbon website, through travel (making the journeys by bike/ bus/ train and hiring an e-car if all else fails), and ensuring we choose second hand or low impact equipment, printing etc. But what does it take to move away from a growth model to a regenerative model? This is something I’m trying to wrestle with in 2024, but I don’t have the answers yet so I would love to hear from anyone thinking about this in their business too.

Finally, if you follow me on social media, you’ll notice that I’m trying to learn to love insta! This isn’t coming easy for me as I feel it mostly fits into the consumption model, but I’m trying to keep to my values of sharing helpful content and not over sharing just to keep the algorithms happy. But I do want to make sure that climbers get accurate, science based information that they can put into practice, and it seems to be the best way of reaching a bigger audience. If you haven’t found me yet, I’m smart_climbing over there and I’m focusing on how-to videos at the moment.

I hope 2024 brings you joy in your climbing, and solutions for the world. Rebecca

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