On the 30th of January Carlie and Rob LeBreton celebrated their 17 year anniversary by going for a climb at the Gateway in the Blue Mountains. Carlie had been working on Middle Earth (30) and new she was close to the send. She had also the goal, pinned on her fridge, of sending 8b (31) during 2021 and before she turned 40. Those two dates had recently passed but her motivation obviously was still present. What ended up going down was not only a send of her project but then also a tick of Double Adapter (31) which was her first send of the French grade 8b and her hardest route to date. What started as a pretty casual day in the mountains suddenly turned into some major Aussie climbing news!
We sat down with Carlie following that day to find out exactly how she had such a successful day climbing and also how she keeps on managing to progress her climbing even though she's been pushing herself at the sport since childhood.
Q. Hi Carlie! So firstly a huge congratulations on your weekend! When you walked into the Gateway on Sunday were you expecting to have such a big day?
A. Thanks, I was pretty close to sending Middle Earth, so I thought it would go down that day or very soon.
Q. Can you give us a quick run down of how the day went down?
A. I warmed up on the 24 that's at the crag and I put the draws on Middle Earth (30). When I had my first go for the day on it, I kind of said to myself, “come on, give it everything and it’s ok if you don't send, it's progress.” I tried to take the pressure off myself about sending that go. My mindset is, why not just give it ago? If you send great, you don't, try again!
Anyway, I sent it first go of the day. The crux felt easy and I didn't feel pumped! Pretty awesome really. After that Rob was working The Professional that comes in to the end of Middle Earth from the other side. If you climb the start and crux of Middle Earth, and then reverse all the hard climbing on The Professional, it’s a 31 called Double Adapter. Rob had the draws on so I thought why not give it a go and see what happens! Pulling on to the route I had no expectations on sending Double Adapter, I was just giving it a go. But then I pulled the Middle Earth crux again, got the tricky link in the 29 and was pumping my way along the lip still holding on. Almost at the end there are some jugs to have a little rest before the last few moves, which I had not been on. There was no chalk and I just kept going, hoping as I reached for each hold that it was the right one! There was an awesome crowd of friends there that day, so they were screaming for me. I really love that! The holds and sequences I chose were good and I clipped the chains. These are the moments we live for, when the process comes together!
Q. You seem to have a solid community of climbers that are really motivated at the moment up at the Blueys. That must be nice…?
A. The Blueys has always had a strong scene. But yes, it does seem these days that everyone is moving here to enjoy the climbing and the community.
Q. Right now in your life, you run a climbing gym, have a kid, are an IFSC route setter and travelling for that, and I’m sure much more that I haven’t mentioned, surely training and crag time must be more limited now than when you were younger, why do you think you’ve sent your goal of 8b now?
A. Having an awesome husband helps! About a year or so ago I kind of came to the realisation that life is too short to make excuses. Why not just give everything all my energy and see what happens. The only one judging you is you, we shouldn’t worry what other people think and just go for it. I think that's a pretty big thing to realise.
Q. In one way I hate to mention age, but on the other it gets me so excited because it motivates me knowing that I’m certainly not past it! Now I can more easily see how a person who came later to the sport would still be pushing their grade beyond 40 but you’ve been climbing at the top level since your youth - even racking up international youth campion! How does it feel to be climbing harder now than ever and why are you climbing harder than ever?
A. We should always have goals and to be woking towards them even if they seem far off, it’s how we work as humans. For me, climbing highlights this more than other sports. I find I always what more, the next challenge. I come from being a competitive climber, so maybe that's why I am like that. I want the best out of myself every time I climb.
Q. What’s the training or sending secret that you can pass on? How do you be so efficient and targeted with your training in order to keep progressing?
A. As I said above, life is too short to make excuses so if you only have 30 mins, get on a fingerboard, do a stamina set or a couple of resistance laps. Or do some yoga or core. If you can put your maximum effort in, even in that amount of time, then you are training. I have found lots of short sessions are the key. Get them done.
Q. Got any words for young climbers reading this?
A. Get out climbing, have fun and try hard. Stick at it, consistency always triumphs.
Q. What’s next?
By Matt Eaton
All Climbing Photos By Matt Norgrove - (Instagram @mnorgrove)