Projecting: How to Own Your Climb

Jess working the moves to her project in Kalymnos.

Jess goes through her sequence before jumping back on her project in Kalymnos.

Today we feature a guest post from Hilary Sherman, an exceptional climber who is all about sharing what she’s learned in her climbing journey to help others improve their own climbing. 

One of the wonderful things about climbing is that it can be whatever you want it to be. If you are only interested in bouldering, great. If you prefer to clip bolts, perfect. Maybe you plug gear, awesome. The same attitude applies to the way you climb. Maybe you climb grades well below your ability and just enjoy getting outside with friends. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all climb for different reasons and your reason is not anyone’s business but your own. Me, I climb because I enjoy trying to push myself physically and mentally. One of the things that has helped me to push myself as far as I have has been my willingness to project climbs. I used to only get on climbs once maybe twice and then move on to something else. People would encourage me to try routes again but I would always have an excuse; I’m too tired, I’m not feeling it, I’ll try it next time, I’d rather do climb X, and so on. I don’t know if it was a lack of confidence in myself or a fear of crumbling under the pressure to send. Regardless, it was holding me back.

Angie Payne projecting Africa Bambaataa (V12) in RMNP.

Be like the pros: project! Angie Payne projecting Africa Bambaataa (V12) in RMNP.

Now I am all about projecting. Don’t get me wrong I love getting on new climbs and trying to send routes the first time I get on them. But I see the value in putting in effort to reach a goal. Projecting has improved my focus and taught me how to remember a sequence. I’ve learned new techniques, gained a ton of confidence in myself, and most of all I’ve gotten stronger. If you get on a route and struggle or fall and don’t try it again what did you learn? Did you get stronger? Maybe a little. I know in other aspects of life I learn through practice and repetition. For me, climbing is no different. I think of working out cruxes like learning a magic trick or a new recipe. The first time you try something new it seems hard, maybe even impossible. The next time you try that same trick it’s a bit easier. After much practice you own it, it’s yours to master as is or alter to fit your needs. Mastering a crux puts that movement in your skill set and muscle memory so that you can draw upon it for other climbs.

Putting the time into projecting a route makes the send even more rewarding!

Putting the time into projecting a route makes the send even more rewarding!

I see so many amazingly strong women at the cliff hesitating to try climbs at their limit more than once. I watch them pull every hard move on a climb with only a few falls. They lower and walk away. Watching them I know they have it in them to send. Maybe it’s because I’ve been there but I can see there is a part of them that wants to get on the route again but for whatever reason they don’t. All the top climbers project, so why shouldn’t we? It definitely takes a different mindset to project climbs. If I’m working on a project I have to be strategic about how I warm up and how long I rest between attempts. I’ve had to make peace with not sending something new every time I go climbing. Sometimes I go months without sending anything new. I find success in the little things, the working out of cruxes, the one hang, the high point or any other sign that I am getting closer. For me it’s worth it for how satisfying it feels to send a climb that once seemed impossible. If you’re not into projecting that’s one thing, but don’t let your fear and insecurities get in the way of your personal progression.

Thanks Hilary! For more on projecting check out our post Climbing Tips: Projecting

Project and climb on! ~CXC

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3 thoughts on “Projecting: How to Own Your Climb

  1. v10Princess! says:

    sometimes I reset the crux of my project on my home wall. sometimes people say that I might be obsessed. But it’s the ticket to the send train.

  2. Jen says:

    Yes! This article is great!

    Climbing is such a mind f (which is now what I love about it…but not at first!) because it is so visible when you fail. I used to hate getting on anything that I knew I would fail on. Now, I’ll try routes that I’m psyched to simply get off the ground on!

    I read this really interesting psych study about teenage boys and girls. When given a hard math problem, boys double down their efforts and tried to solve it while girls gave up if they couldn’t do it right away. The girls had this idea that talent was something you are born with while boys saw talent as something you have to work hard for.

    Things to think about and remember on the wall…

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