This one’s specifically for the readers who are interested in climbing. Read on if you dare…
You have a choice. Take the blue pill. Go on with your life as a rock climber, trying lots of different climbs, hanging out with friends and maintaining a healthy relationship with the sport you enjoy.
Or. Take the red pill. Go down the rabbit hole of obsession with one route. The project. Learn it. Love it. Project is life. Let it infiltrate every waking moment of your day and take over your involvement with climbing in the hope that one day rainbows fall out of the sky, birds sing ‘We Are The Champions‘ and you send it in a siege that makes you worthy of the title of greatest rock climber to have ever lived.
Sounds like a scary choice. The blue pill life is very simple, very safe, very enjoyable. The red pill life sounds all-encompassing in the pursuit of something that may or not happen. For lots of climbers they unknowingly face this choice and let it play out in their lives through both conscious and subconscious decisions they make. You will also reflect the choices of the people you surround yourself with too so be careful. For those that wander down the rabbit hole of obsession after taking the red pill they begin a quest known as ‘Projecting’.
Projecting involves putting all your eggs in one basket. The process is quite simple:
- 1) Select a route that is beyond your current capaibilities.
- 2) Analyse the route like you’re a KGB agent. You need every bit of data about possible footholds, handholds, cracks, how it responds to different weather conditions etc.
- 3) Experiment with all possible sequences to connect the holds found in Step 2 in the most efficient way.
- 4) Train your physical attributes (strength, power, mobility, endurance) to be able to complete the sequences from Step 3.
- 5) Execute the sequences in one go. The send go. The redpoint burn. Complete the project.
The trouble with projecting is besides this neat little five-step-simplified-easy-to-expand-on-step-by-step-process there are no other rulebooks. No guidelines to tell you if the route you have selected is a good idea, no way to know you have the right sequence or beta in step 3 and no way to know if you’ll ever be strong enough to even pull off the crux move. Projecting is great training for life because it can feel just as unrewarding and pointless at times as well as being amazingly euphoric when you reach a new highpoint.
How does one then tackle the Art of Projecting without suffering some sort of death by a thousand cuts? My theory is: you do a lot of projecting. There’s no click-baity golden rule that will make your climbing ability instantly improve. Just pure simple experience at projecting will make you better at projecting which will in turn make you a better climber. Just like in life how the reason older people are so wise is because they’re so damn old and they’ve had experience.If it sounds like I’m advising you that beating your head against a wall will make you tougher and more capable of more beating against a wall then you are listening well.
By projecting lots of times you will learn to avoid mistakes that will slow you down. It’s possible as well to increase your ‘mistake-counter’ by absorbing lessons from other people’s mistakes too. Here’s some of mine:
- If you select a route make sure you believe in it. If you select a project because it’s a popular route, has three stars and is in a great location, despite it not really tickling your fancy then it’s a bad choice despite it’s pros. After several unsuccessful goes you’ll be hanging off of it, swearing, wondering who talked you into climbing this shit.
- Failing to recognise there is always better beta is like saying you are an almighty powerful god. There is always a way to refine something. Better weight transfer, the angle your ankle makes when you push off that micro-footer, or maybe some completely different sequence you never thought of. Whatever it is, the quest to refining the beta is almost as soul destroying as projecting can be but when successful is very aesthetically pleasing.
- Despite the acknowledgment of a mistake in rushing past Step 3 of the process too fast. sometimes it is ok. (Yes, this is a perfect example of how The Art of Projecting can be screwed up at times). Sometimes the only real mistake you’re making in the Projecting world is giving something a redpoint burn when you’re tired or low on energy, go after go, expecting a different result each time. Each time you give your project a true redpoint go do not make the mistake of suffering from groundhog day. Enter battle mode, change the beta, say a different Hindu incantation to incite some other gods, DO SOMETHING so that your attempt will be different. The most common way I’ve found of making each go different is by intentionally telling myself and believing that the thing that is going to change on this attempt is that I’m actually going to climb the damn thing.
I’ve painted a pretty miserable picture of projecting. You’re probably looking at the blue pill option with a bit less disdain now. However, before you go offering a trade with Morpheus for a new pill, consider that if you successfully navigate the quest of Projecting you will have painted your own picture. A picture, that tells a thousand word story of all the different triumphs and disasters you experienced along the way. All the different belayers you had to get you there, the times spent staring at a stopwatch waiting for the next set on your hangboard routine. Complete enough projects, you’ll own yourself a scrapbook worth of pictures to reflect on when you’re too old and decrepit to project. I’m guessing it’s much better to reflect on your own successes when you’re in the aged care home as opposed to reading about or hearing someone else’s life story who was bold enough to take the red pill. You’ll be reminded every day of your regret at taking the blue pill when you’re dropping all your other daily medications. So, do yourself a favour, commit to the Art of Projecting and take the red pill.