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How to review climbing goals

Updated: Mar 10

At the start of the year I wrote a blog post about goal setting, so with the year drawing to a close it is only right to reflect on the goals I set. Did I achieve what I wanted to? Did I miss out or take unexpected opportunities? We shall see…


Firstly it’s important to note that goal setting without reflection, is a slightly pointless exercise. Imagine planting a load of seeds in the spring, watering and growing them through the summer, harvesting them when ready, but never eating them at the end. Eating them at the end is what tells us whether they were grown well, did they need more shade, more sun, better soil or fertilisation? A fairly loose analogy I’ll admit, but I’m sure you get the idea. Reflection allows us to refine the process, in climbing this could be physical training at the climbing wall or gym, mental preparation or practice, mileage on rock, technique drills. Importantly how did these efforts translate to results, did we manage to climb that first e1/v3/6a etc… Not only that, how did success/failure make us feel? Closing the loop of goal - action - reflection (Plan, do, review) and repeating allows us to build on our successes and failures, year on year or season on season.

Down to the nitty gritty, what goals did I set at the start of the year and what happened?

Smart Goals

Specific - Climb more routes than last year

Measurable - Last year I climbed 182 routes, this year I want to climb at least 300

Attainable- I know this year I will have more opportunity to climb frequently due to changes in schedule.

Realistic - I have climbed more than this many routes in a year previously and normally average about 230 routes a year.

Time Limited - One year (this makes it easy for me to compare to previous years).


Using my UKC logbook, I can see that in 2021 I climbed 306 climbs. I enjoyed the process of climbing lots this year, however I enjoyed some of my other goals more. Next year I will probably climb a similar amount if not more, so I will not be continuing this goal because I feel it has served its purpose.

New Routes

S - Climb more new routes

M - I would like to climb 10 new routes in 2021

A - I know from looking around the area that there are potential new climbs to be found

R - I climbed some new routes last year

T - By the end of the year


I climbed 15 new routes in 2021, this was a really rewarding process and I will carry this goal forward into 2022 (I have a list of places to visit already!). I enjoyed going to new areas as part of this, climbing with new people and getting some great photos published in the new Moelwynion and Cwm Lledr guidebook.

man mountaineering in wales on a steep cliff overlooking the welsh countryside

James "Caff" McHaffie on the 1st Ascent of Ci Ddu E6 6a


S - Climb some harder routes

M - Trad climbs above E5 6a

A - I have opportunity to climb more this year and have spent some time training

R - I’ve top roped harder climbs previously, but not lead them

T - By the end of the year I will have climbed routes of E6 or more.


This goal was about pushing myself physically and mentally after a few years of slightly stagnant climbing. At the end of the year I’ve climbed one e6 and three e7s, all in a headpoint style which I felt comfortable with. This goal was interesting and came with unexpected challenges because I found out I was going to be a dad. The news of fatherhood certainty caused me to examine my motivation and the style in which I climbed the routes. As such I climbed them in a style which I enjoyed and felt comfortable with (top rope practice).