1. Commit to a date
This may sound silly but for me one big thing that prevents trips happening is simply not getting the booking in. Block out the time in your diary today, book the flight, you’ll never regret it. Even if you’ve only got a long weekend, sport climbing trips maximise the number of meters of quality climbing done in a restricted time frame.
2. Assemble the dream team
If you’re going to be spending consecutive days climbing with the same small team of people or just one person you’d better make sure you’re going to have fun.
For me this means people whom I’ll trust to hold my rope for me; people who will be good humoured when the flight is delayed and we end up sleeping in the airport; people who have compatible aims for the trip. Is this the person who’s going to be fun to hang out with, day in day out, through high times and low?
3. Destination, destination, destination
Inspiration in terms of a destination is what will cause the seed of a trip to germinate. Choose a destination that excites you for whatever reason, this is often a single magical photo, article or video that jumps out and makes your palms sweaty.
I think this generation will be remembered by history as the low-cost flight generation (or something more catchy to that effect) we’re totally spoilt by the number of places we can easily, quickly and cheaply access for winter sun rock climbing. But also do your research and check that there are plenty of routes to enjoy at your (actual honest and realistic) climbing grade!
Ensure that there are other things that you’re excited to visit or do around where you’re heading apart from the climbing. This way rest days or rainy days can be great parts of the trip too.
4. One preparation easy win
One of the many ace things about rock climbing is that because there are so many aspects that contribute to performance there is always going to be one or two areas where a small amount of increased effort will make a big difference to your performance. Beyond the basic rope technique aspects of sport climbing, which I’m taking as read…
For most intermediate or beginner climbers I think the fear of falling (blog on this here) is perhaps the area that is most restrictive to both performance and enjoyment on your first sport climbing trip. Climbing means going up off the floor and and we need to be rational about the level of risk associated with falling.
Implementing a gentle and progressive falling practice into your climbing wall visits before the trip will pay massive dividends. Seek professional instruction for the safest and most efficient progress with this. Get in touch for further advice on this or join on a dedicated falling clinic.
5. Eat, Sleep, Climb repeat
The simplicity of life on a sport climbing trip is so refreshing. Every day all you have to do is eat, sleep, climb repeat.
Eat – and importantly drink smart. No, I do not mean “Beer before wine, you’ll be fine,” “Wine before beer, sick for a year.” Keeping properly fed and hydrated will mean your brain and body is best placed to recover from all the climbing quickly, keep your skin in good climbing condition and your muscles fresh day after blissful day.
Sleep – again getting enough kip and resting properly is key when asking your body to do lots of exercise day after day.
Climb – Don’t expect your first trip to be wildly successful in terms of grades ticked. Remember that nearly all your climbing is ‘practice’ (as opposed to ‘performance’) even when on a trip – each day work on a particular aspect of your climbing in a mindful way, this could be as basic as practicing enjoying the movement on the rock. Clipping bolts allows lots of mind space for this, way more than trad. climbing typically does. Getting good a defining success with aims other than reaching the top of the next grade is a great skill for any climber!