Lucy has spent the past 15 years focusing mainly on indoor comp climbing. She is closer than ever to her indoor goals, yet all she wants is to get fired up on rock and become obsessed with a new outdoor climbing project. Get inspired by Lucy’s focus shift from indoor to outdoor climbing and her plans ahead.
When I look at a climb outdoors, it's the scariest, most intimidating lines which excite me the most. Not scary-dangerous but scary because they're beautiful, awesome and look unimaginably hard. By staring up at the route, and even trying it for the first time I catch a glimpse of a wild, obsessive journey ahead. That glimpse is terrifying, yet nothing excites me more. What's ahead is a whole process of learning the moves, endless fails, cycles of doubt and disbelief, small wins, links and a rollercoaster of emotions. I'll set my mind on this route and it will become so much a part of my everyday life; my thoughts, my dreams, my decisions, and my training that by the time I've sent it, I have learned every hold and movement that the climb feels like a close friend. I don't need to think; just move up the wall. Then, just like finishing a good book, I clip the anchor and almost grieve the journey now behind me, but happiness and fulfillment flood my veins.
My recent decision to follow my passion for the outdoors, rather than a singular focus of World Cups and the Olympics, is similar to looking at a new project outdoors. You're aware it's going to be hard; you’re going to be judged by others, but mainly by yourself, you're going to have to make sacrifices, create your own goals, and you'll still have your doubts and question whether it was the right route to project. Notwithstanding this, deep down, despite all these unknowns, there will be a fire in your belly, a curiosity needing to be quenched, and a desire for this obsession and purpose.
Next year is going to be incredible. I'm psyched to be making some exciting plans and so grateful to my friends, family and sponsors for being equally as excited for this decision as me. Already there are a couple of lines I cannot stop thinking about.
“My recent decision to follow my passion for the outdoors, rather than a singular focus of World Cups and the Olympics, is similar to looking at a new project outdoors. You're aware it's going to be hard; you’re going to be judged by others, but mainly by yourself, you're going to have to make sacrifices, create your own goals, and you'll still have your doubts and question whether it was the right route to project.”
It sounds like you’re drawn to some ambitious and stunning lines, what are some of the routes that you can’t stop thinking about?
I can't remember for how long I've dreamt about projecting Tiger Cat (33) at Elphinstone in the Blueys. But for what feels like forever it's felt very much like just a dream, and still does. While on short holiday trips over the last 6+ years I've never had the guts to even give it a go while there's so many routes I haven't done yet at lower grades in the mountains. On my last trip in December I swallowed my ego and tried to let go of my perception of what other people would think and just jumped on it and gave it a go. It was super cool and I'm really psyched to keep plugging away at it as a long term proj. It's still very much a dream but at least now I can piece together what I need to do to get there one day. In the meantime I have so many awesome routes I'm psyched to project not only in the blueys but close to home in South East Queensland.
The Blue Mountains in general is a style of climbing I'm really excited to lend some time to before chasing routes/crags I know will come easier or are more my style. It's not the type of rock or style of climbing I'm best at, which is partly why I want to spend so much time there.
Don't Believe The Tripe is very much my #1 route to project on my next trip. That line sits close to my heart, with a lot of emotion attached so it will be an interesting head game for sure.
Back home in QLD I have some challenges I'm excited to pursue this year up on Mt Tibrogargan's Summit Caves. I'm not ashamed to say that every route up there terrifies me a little and even the approach scramble spooks me out. I guess in the process of pursuing this challenge I hope to work on my head game and become more accustomed to exposure.
Changing your focus from the comp calendar to your own goals on rock is a significant shift, how do you see yourself maintaining motivation when you’re on your own schedule?
Irrespective of the focus/goal, motivation has always come very easily to me. So much so, however that it's almost detrimental to my training. I'll end up pushing too hard or overtraining. Too much excited energy in sessions makes me not rest enough between burns and/or go for too long.
3 months after making this decision and my mind is still opening up to the change and how much potential rock and adventure is ahead. The fact that it's all on my own schedule was so daunting at first because I'm so used to the comfort and security of a comp schedule. For 13+ years, every performance date has been laid out for me and all I had to do was pick which ones I would need to qualify toward the next event and then plan my training around them.
After making the decision I was pretty overwhelmed with not knowing exactly what adventures I wanted, and felt very trapped in the 'be successful for others' mindset associated with being a sponsored athlete and comp climber pursuing the Olympics. After making the decision for myself to switch my focus to the outdoors I kinda felt pressure to send something cool in the next 12 months to justify my decision. I'm loosening up now and am better able to reinforce the fact that part of making the decision was to escape that mindset.
I'm purely setting goals that excite ME and I'm pursuing them for myself, not because I need to meet any qualifications for the next event. I'm still reinforcing in my mind that I was absolutely worthy of making that decision for myself and everything else either follows along or it doesn't.
Shifting from plastic to rock, who do you look to for inspiration?
So many incredibly inspiring climbers to draw inspiration from. Angie Scarth-Johnson is a big one for me, and also Carlie LeBreton and Monique Forrestier. Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. Gosh there is so much rock, so much history and so many incredibly inspiring people in the climbing community. Social media is the easiest and most convenient way to find inspiration I guess, but I definitely find a more material way of looking for inspo less overwhelming and more froth inducing. Stuff like old (and new) climbing magazines, climbing books, posters and just talking to people.
Projecting and comp climbing are super different, do you see your training plan changing with the new direction?
Yes! ...and no. I will be focusing my training specifically on what I've identified as my weaknesses outdoors. Each training block will focus on building toward the next trip or project, and with the specificity that suits that project or style. At the moment outdoors, I'm focused on hard sport routes.. so that's building up strength, power and then power endurance which is very similar if not the same as training for a lead event.
I am also signed up to compete at a World Cup in China in October which excites me a lot. It's important I don't rule comps out entirely as its still something I adore. I'm just shifting my primary focus to outdoors.
Any words of wisdom for the climbers who are in the gym and want to make the daunting move to rock themselves?
It's well worth it. Climbing on rock is such a beautiful process. Remember it's scary for almost everyone at some point. Make sure you head out with an experienced friend and do your research on crag ethics. There are great courses to learn safety, setups and how to get out of sticky situations which I can't recommend enough!