2023 Review & JFire on the Struggle Pod

Every year I run through and make a list of my top experiences. It’s part performance analysis and part gratitude practice. I look for obvious lessons or takeaways from these successes. Why are they memorable? What barriers did I overcome? Was this win expected or unexpected?

I discussed this habit, and a bunch of other ideas for how to approach 2024, in a recent podcast with the Struggle Climbing Show. (Spotify / Apple) I recommend giving that a listen if you want to hear how I think about analyzing my year and starting fresh with my training! I tried to keep the list fresh and I’m stoked with how this conversation came out.

Without further ado, here’s my top 10ish climbing & training experiences from 2023 and what I learned from them!

Angelina Jolie V10

  • Life list problem & long-term project
  • Technical milestone
  • Demonstrated I can be super patient with projects. Really wanted this one but never felt close.
  • I could continue improving at this style for a long, long time

Mad Bush V12

  • My understanding of conditions is still improving (and still has lots of room for improvement!)
  • Power milestone / one of the most complex single moves I’ve done
  • Session focus was on point – didn’t allow myself to get distracted once I realized sending was possible that day
  • Wanted this one but wasn’t sure if I would do it

Thunderdome Low V11

  • Indicator of significant physical level up overall (“no tricks” beta)
  • Power endurance milestone
  • Felt fairly confident I’d do this one this year

La Baleine 7A flash

  • Life list problem
  • Felt high risk with pads and conditions available; knew I could do it and committed fully
  • Landmark send at the end of a long life list trip to France

On Again Off Again V10 flash

  • A perfect memorable day with friends
  • Totally unexpected
  • Signaled a return to form from TFCC injury

Sam’s Slab V5R

  • Maintained a positive mindset through my wrist injury
  • Didn’t even know this problem existed until a week or two before I did it!
  • I still enjoy risk as an element in my climbing
  • One or two headpoints a year is fun, but I would need more exposure to risky climbing to get back to previous levels of comfort

310 Deadlift PR (double bodyweight)


  • Bought a rack & lifted at home
  • Stayed consistent with lifting through chaos
  • I could lift a lot heavier with more consistency (!!)

The Mirage V6

  • Long day in the backcountry with a friend
  • Quality is a worthy pursuit in itself
  • I should try harder to maintain aerobic capacity during long off-seasons

TFCC Tear Recovery

  • My most successful recovery from a serious injury
  • Exemplary of “start from where you’re at” philosophy for training. Rehab started on day one.
  • Getting more educated in S&C/rehab pays dividends for anyone
  • Need to pay close attention to warming up for novel moves when it’s freezing, but the injury was probably mostly bad luck

King Kevin V7 send train

  • Didn’t really expect to climb this day, but was ready to
  • Cathartic social experience
  • Super memorable 7 or 8 person send train at dusk

Overall a great year, especially considering the injury in spring. No surprise at the major takeaways. My lack of deliberate goal-setting for the fall season served me well, as I was able to switch gears based on my motivation.

I tried hard and sacrificed a lot of other things in life to have more time to dedicate to climbing. Sticking with my current philosophy of more strength training and more rest feels like a good plan heading into 2024. I’ve been working on my work capacity as well, which I think was one of my major barriers this year.

But more to come on that later. Next up is the harder post – running through all the things I didn’t do and trying to understand the lessons and barriers from those experiences.

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