‘Focus on the process’, I realize how vague that sounds. How do you know what you have to do, each day, to take a step in the right direction towards a big goal? To make the process more concrete and break it up into clear steps, we made personal development plans that covered all aspects on House and Johnston’s list, and added team building and expedition planning skills. These personal plans allow us to reflect on our learning process better by scoring, at set intervals and for specific attributes, where we are and what still needs work
For example, motivation and discipline have never been my problem, and mentally I feel relatively strong at the moment, but my experience in ice- and mixed climbing is little, so I knew I had to prioritize that this winter. Where I might have given myself a bit more credit in rock, I graded my climbing skills in winter conditions a 1 out of 5. A lot of room for improvement.
To work on that, prior to going to the French Alps a month ago, I set up a list of concrete, attainable goals for the week that would help me improve. It said: ‘build experience lead climbing steep ice’, ‘do a multipitch ice climb’, ‘learn to tour ski’, ‘learn about ice conditions’ and ‘practice using avalanche safety set’. At the end of the week, I had ticked off nearly everything on my list, and could clearly monitor these improvements in my long-term plan.
Keeping a list of small sub-goals makes it easy to quickly progress and keep track of what you’ve done. In one week in France, I tried steep ice climbs in Ceillac (Sombre Héros) and Cervières (Ancrage de Dent and Le Tube), I stood on touring skies for the first time and made my way down from Pic W de Chamoissière (probably falling over 30 times, but hey), our guide Boris Textor taught me how to read ice fall conditions, and we practiced reading the terrain on avalanche danger.