The Pains of Projecting

Who out there LOVES projecting? I mean, REALLY LOVES projecting?

Paul Robertson on Fantasy Island (5.14b) in American Fork Canyon, UT.
Photo by Benjamin Eaton.

Most climbers value projecting like sleep. We feel like it’s a waist of time while also honoring it as a vital way to become stronger. Projecting is the means to an end—the coveted redpoint. In a perfect world, we would just onsight all of our projects like Adam Ondra, allowing us to bypass the process of falling, dialing down beta, and more falling.

As I took over a year to project and climb my first 5.13, I was able to think a lot about projecting. I tried to find ways to like it while also identifying the reasons that made me dread it.
Benjamin Eaton on Teardrop (5.13a) in American Fork Canyon, UT.
Photo by Nathan Smith.

Why do we have this love-hate relationship with projecting? We love it because it allows us to eventually climb routes that were once out of our league. But why do we hate it?

The Monotony – Some route take longer to redpoint than others, causing us to climb the same route over and over and over again.

Finding Belayers – It’s hard to find people that are willing to submit themselves to long and frequent periods of getting jerked up into the air, kinked necks, and having to listen to you scream and wobble after each attempt.

Your Belayer Gets The Redpoint First – Just when you thought you found the perfect belayer that wants to project the same route, they send it and move on.

Lots of Falling – The final stages of projecting consists of a lot of failed redpoint-burns, causing some big and nasty whippers. For some people this can be the scariest and/or most aggravating part of it all.

Looking Like a Pro…Until You Fall – We dial down the beta on our projects so well that we climb them so fluidly, impressing any spectators until we punt ourselves off the hard part.

Refraining to Climb Anything Else – We get so enveloped with our project that we dedicate all our climbing time to it, never allowing ourselves to breach over onto other routes, crags, or areas.

Getting Downgraded – Some climbers experience the misfortune of having their project get downgraded before they can get the send.

Bad Weather – It seems as though the bad weather typically roles in when you have more than enough belayers, a lot of free time, and are at the peak of your fitness.

The Season Ends – The worse part of projecting is when the clock runs out for the season and you are forced to wait pull on plastic for a couple months.

Overall, projecting is part of the game. No matter how much we might hate it, we must learn to embrace it; it’s what allows us to progress and climb what we’ve always dreamt of climbing.

So get out there and get after it.

James Simmons on Melting (5.13a) in American Fork Canyon, UT.
Photo by Benjamin Eaton.

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