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In defense of projects.
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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Feb 15, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

The "Desperately Seeking 8a" thread got me thinking. There seems to be a lot of anti-longterm-project sentiment out there. I, myself, have run into it at the crag, people who are obsessed with sending routes quickly, in a handful of goes. I think it's worthwhile to note, however, that nobody ever made a climbing video about a climber who sent his route in three goes. People generally aren't interested in watching climbers climbing things within their limit, but many climbers seem to fall into the trap of sending things quickly.

So my question is this: What do you think of time spent projecting?

Sub questions: What have you learned throughout the projecting process (long or short)? What projects have been really memorable for you and why?


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By Robert Dominguez
From Birmingham, AL
Feb 15, 2008
Lost Roof (V4)

I think spending time with a project is like spending time with a part of you. When projecting you get to the point where you know a route like the back of your hand--you've got the moves you like, the moves that piss you off and challenge you, and of course the point you're stuck at. It took me a long time to get to the point where I liked working on a project. It's a personal victory for me when I finally send something that I've been trying for weeks--something that my friends still don't understand. Speaking of which can definitely have adverse effects--having a buddy on belay that is sick of watching you fall on the same move, hang, chalk up, rinse and repeat.... is annoying to me because I feel like I'm hogging their time. That's why I feel it's important to have people that value working a project. If you have someone with you that just wants to send everything in a couple of goes--it takes away from the experiance.

If it were easy, it wouldn't be worth doing.


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By abc
Feb 15, 2008

Like anything in life, you get back what you give.

My most memorable and rewarding climbs have been done in the mountains and have taken multiple days.

Likewise, I most value my redpoints that required a lot of blood, sweat, and tears more than the routes that happened quickly.


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By Mike Mu.
Feb 15, 2008
The Nose from the road

that is an interesting question. I have always wanted to project stuff but I am too lazy to go out and do it; type A has nothing to do with it for me. One question I am curious about, when you successfully complete a project do you then say you are a "5.whatever" climber? Or do you say I am a 5.10 climber when you are sure you can onsight any kind of 5.10 (OW, fingers, chimney, sport, roof, etc) you encounter? bit off topic but am curious as to how people think.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Feb 15, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

Five years ago, I had just sent my hardest route at the time, in five tries, and I ran across a local hero at the crag. We were talking about routes and I asked him which route was his first 5.14. He told me it was Supernova at Rumney. Then I asked him how many tries it took him and he said, "Oh, I don't know. I guess about seventy."

Seventy tries? Here I'd climbed at what I thought was my limit, but it took me only five tries to do so. His response opened up a whole new world to me.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Feb 15, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

Bob D'Antonio wrote:
I'm way too type A to last more than a few days on a project.


I don't understand...


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By caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Feb 15, 2008

I think projecting can be a lot of fun. It's a different style of climbing that tends to require that certain things line up though.

You've got to have partners who are kind of in to the same thing. When I was really working projects and having success was 3 years ago. I pretty much had one climbing partner, and we were climbing 2-3 days a week. We were on the same program. These days, I probably have 5 'regular' partners who have varying interests, only one of them wants to go work projects together, and even then not all the time.

The thing I found most thrilling about projecting though, was what I learned about climbing and my climbing when I sent. The hardest things I've ever climbed, I realized that I still had gas left in the tank, and that harder things were possible. That still keeps me going.


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By DisturbingThePeace
From Albuquerque, NM
Feb 15, 2008
PBR Time at the Creek

I started climbing with people who were anti projecting, and encouraged climbing until you fell (on well protected climbs). So I have never done much projecting the most I have ever tried a route has been 5 goes. In fact my general strategy to trying hard routes has been exactly what Monomaniac recommends against.

Monomaniac wrote:
One problem folks have with projecting is that they try for the on-sight first, then they get severely pumped, so their next burn is worse than the first, and so on, until they declare the objective 'impossible'. Don't do this. Go bolt to bolt until you've sent a few of them.


However this has made me a really good onsight climber (or a really bad redpoint climber) depending how you look at it. As my best onsight grade is within 1-2 letters of my best redpoint grade.

This season I'm hoping to use good projecting strategy and elevating my climbing to the "mythical" 8a level. However I still think that quick sends are still better for advancing your climbing than working a route to death. I believe the Self Coached Climber recommends picking max projects that will take around 8 attempts.

One project I really remember is Mad Hatter a 110 ft endurance route because of the awful strategy I used on it. 1st go I tried to flash it, 1 fall at the top. 2nd go I was tired couldn't remember the moves and fell several times. 3rd go I fell at the second bolt and proceeded to send the rest of it hanging the draws. 4th go couldn't find a hold and fell towards the top. 5th go, on the third day of trying Redpoint! While this route was very memorable for me because of the frustration of 1 falling it 3 times, I probably could have sent 2nd go with better strategy.

Another project was The Demon a 50 ft Power Endurance route. On this route the moves were so hard for me that I had to work them just to get up the route. After 2 goes I had the moves memorized, I could go through all the moves (21 of them) through the business section while sitting at work. I was able to send on my 3rd go. I found it very cool to be able to remember all the moves and flow through the route.


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By adam brink
From Boulder, CO
Feb 15, 2008
Arlo in all his magnificence.

"I think it's worthwhile to note, however, that nobody ever made a climbing video about a climber who sent his route in three goes. People generally aren't interested in watching climbers climbing things within their limit"

No offense but... you can't really be serious, are you? First, who cares what kind of climbing other people want to watch (unless you are Peter Mortemer, of course)? Second, some of the very best climbing videos I've ever seen where based around quick ascents. Cameron trying to on-sight The Evictor, Peter Croft on-sight soloing in the Sierras and what is probably the best piece of climbing footage ever, the opening of Hard Grit with Jean-Min trying to on-sight Gia.

Projecting is great if you are trying to push into that next level. It's great if you want to climb something that is really hard. It's great if you want to fluff you're 8a scorecard. BUT... if you really want to see how good you are, how strong and fit you are, then go out and do that hard route with no toprope practice, no dogging the line for hours and in as few tries as possible. Then you'll find out how good, fit and strong you are.

With all that said, I project plenty. I've done it enough to know that it takes less mental control, less fitness and less strength than doing a route on-sight or in a couple tries.


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By Darren in Vegas
From Las Vegas, NV
Feb 15, 2008
Skiing around.

adam brink wrote:
I've done it enough to know that it takes less mental control, less fitness and less strength than doing a route on-sight or in a couple tries.


What were you projecting? I think I need to try whatever route you're talking about!

mental control? how about the mental control to get on a route for the fiftieth time and know that failure is more than a real possiblilty again, and still try your hardest. This may not be the same type of mental control required to climb on runout terrain, but it is not any less difficult to attain.

less fitness, less strength? then how come I've got to train so hard to get a new letter grade every other year, or every three years?

I think that each discipline of climbing requires these attributes in differing forms.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Feb 15, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

adam brink wrote:
"I think it's worthwhile to note, however, that nobody ever made a climbing video about a climber who sent his route in three goes. People generally aren't interested in watching climbers climbing things within their limit" No offense but... you can't really be serious, are you? First, who cares what kind of climbing other people want to watch (unless you are Peter Mortemer, of course)? Second, some of the very best climbing videos I've ever seen where based around quick ascents. Cameron trying to on-sight The Evictor, Peter Croft on-sight soloing in the Sierras and what is probably the best piece of climbing footage ever, the opening of Hard Grit with Jean-Min trying to on-sight Gia.


Adam, you are talking about onsighting, not projecting. I did not say that onsights are not worthy. Each situation that you mentioned highlights a climber climbing at his limit (and beyond his limit, in the case of Gaia). My original questions dealt with projecting and said nothing of onsighting.

adam brink wrote:
Projecting is great if you are trying to push into that next level. It's great if you want to climb something that is really hard. It's great if you want to fluff you're 8a scorecard. BUT... if you really want to see how good you are, how strong and fit you are, then go out and do that hard route with no toprope practice, no dogging the line for hours and in as few tries as possible. Then you'll find out how good, fit and strong you are. With all that said, I project plenty. I've done it enough to know that it takes less mental control, less fitness and less strength than doing a route on-sight or in a couple tries.


Please spare me the "you'll find out how good, fit and strong you are" garbage. There are many of us who enjoy projecting and there are many of us who enjoy onsighting. One is not better than the other, nor does one wholly determine climbing prowess.

I happen to love projecting. I don't do it to "fluff my scorecard" or to prove anything to anyone. It sounds to me like you are trying to prove something here.


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By adam brink
From Boulder, CO
Feb 15, 2008
Arlo in all his magnificence.

Wow! That didn't take too much. I obviously touched a nerve.

Hi Bob- sorry to confuse you. To clarify, what I think is that sending a route after projecting it takes way less mental control, strength and fitness than on-sighting or sending in a few tries a route of slightly lesser difficulty. Isn't that the whole point of projecting, to work out the hard stuff (make it easier and less strenious) and master the mental sections so that when you try to send the route there will be less difficulty?

Like I said, I've projectd plenty. There's nothing wrong with it. I just don't think that it requirs as much ability as hard on-sighting and quick repeats.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Feb 15, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

adam brink wrote:
Like I said, I've projectd plenty. There's nothing wrong with it. I just don't think that it requirs as much ability as hard on-sighting and quick repeats.


This was exactly the point of the thread. Many people attribute less worth to long-term projects. I disagree. It takes serious mental fortitude to tie in for that 70th redpoint burn, knowing that it's very likely that you will fall. When I think of the big routes in sport climbing history, each was a long-term, toilsome, and I would argue difficult project: Just Do It, Super Tweek, Action Directe, Realization, etc.

Some trad climbs were serious projects too: Cobra Crack is a great example. Are you going to say that the effort that went into that is any less than the effort that goes into trad onsights?


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By scott e. tarrant
From Fort Collins
Feb 15, 2008
kate!

the "desperately seeking 8a" thread was my lurking asses favorite in a long time! it, along with this one and unlike so many others, seem to exploit, for me, what this site is supposed to be about.

after many years of climbing, i feel foolish appearing the super neophyte but...i have never projected. would love to try. i am sure there are dozens of symptoms at play regarding the reasons why i have/have not (fill in the blank) and those are just plain boring. please share more regarding strategy, route choices, etc. i have climbed in and around 5.12 for many years, on-sighted 5.12b (probably a soft rating), red pointed (3rd try) 12c, but never come realistically close to red pointing a 5.13. been on several and tried each less than 3 times. frankly, they just seemed too hard for me. i had moments of being completely shut the down. yet i could, in a try or two get a 12c next door...??? i understand that i will likely never get beyond where i am at (grade wise) unless i figure this out. the point of harder grades for me is the amount of vertical acerage it opens. if i can climb 5.13's, i will be way more comfortable on some of the more desperate, run out, scary 5.12's that i really want to do...right now, i am not comfortable getting on some of my super duper all time classics. they are at my limit. my possibly flawed logic demands i either give up the hope of getting clean ascents on some of my career routes (most are very long, and not local and i won't have the luxury of setting up vertical campgrounds and projecting them...i must on-sight) or i raise my limit so that the run out on the wisdom feels like a 5.8.


any other suggestions? anyone live in or around the roaring fork valley who wants to swap gri gri time for the same in kind? any suggestions that don't involve plastic / gym time?


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Feb 15, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

Bob D'Antonio wrote:
I'm way too type A to last more than a few days on a project.


From the looks of some of your FAs, Bob, I think it would take the rest of us more than a few days to repeat them.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Feb 15, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

scott e. tarrant wrote:
the "desperately seeking 8a" thread was my lurking asses favorite in a long time! it, along with this one and unlike so many others, seem to exploit, for me, what this site is supposed to be about. after many years of climbing, i feel foolish appearing the super neophyte but...i have never projected. would love to try. i am sure there are dozens of symptoms at play regarding the reasons why i have/have not (fill in the blank) and those are just plain boring. please share more regarding strategy, route choices, etc. i have climbed in and around 5.12 for many years, on-sighted 5.12b (probably a soft rating), red pointed (3rd try) 12c, but never come realistically close to red pointing a 5.13. been on several and tried each less than 3 times. frankly, they just seemed too hard for me. i had moments of being completely shut the down. yet i could, in a try or two get a 12c next door...??? i understand that i will likely never get beyond where i am at (grade wise) unless i figure this out. the point of harder grades for me is the amount of vertical acerage it opens. if i can climb 5.13's, i will be way more comfortable on some of the more desperate, run out, scary 5.12's that i really want to do...right now, i am not comfortable getting on some of my super duper all time classics. they are at my limit. my possibly flawed logic demands i either give up the hope of getting clean ascents on some of my career routes (most are very long, and not local and i won't have the luxury of setting up vertical campgrounds and projecting them...i must on-sight) or i raise my limit so that the run out on the wisdom feels like a 5.8. any other suggestions? anyone live in or around the roaring fork valley who wants to swap gri gri time for the same in kind? any suggestions that don't involve plastic / gym time?


Scott,

I think the key to projecting is finding a route that you truly love, that you are happy to be climbing on, even if you are falling all over the thing. This kind of inspiration is necessary in order to motivate you to get back on the thing, day after day. As for worrying about whether you should be on a super classic route at (or beyond) your limit, I say go ahead and ignore what other people may say or think. You can't send it if you don't get on it.

In order to stay motivated I think it is important to set real goals-- not necessarily to send the route, but maybe to try to link from one rest to another, or maybe to go from the fifth bolt to the top, or to do the crux move. If you tie in with a definitive, measurable goal, this will help you stay psyched. You may not have sent the route, but you can go home with a positive attitude, thinking yeah, I linked from the ground to the third bolt for the first time.

The belayer issue is a real problem. I'm lucky enough to have a wife who loves to project as much as I do, so we constantly trade belay time.


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By scott e. tarrant
From Fort Collins
Feb 15, 2008
kate!

thanks jay-

i am going to pony up to The Avenger! i have looked at it for many years and forever been attracted. i may be reaching out for specifics... i'll keep you posted. you can lab rat my experience. i will be honest and post updates... i guess at least i picked the route for my first project...now i think it will get harder...i can't talk and think and emote and write my up it can i?

thanks,

scott


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By Kayte Knower
Feb 15, 2008
paralysis by analysis

A true project feels impossible and, in fact, is impossible when you get on it for the first time. It isn't just cracking a sequence and then putting it together in a few more goes once you've tested the falls. Maybe that sort of "quickie" project is what Adam was talking about, and I would agree that it isn't as hard as onsighting at your limit.

A true project isn't like that though. Sending a route that is truly at your limit brings your climbing to a place it has never been -- a level of physical performance and mental commitment you have never previously reached.

If I think of my four most memorable routes, I was so exhausted at the top that I felt almost nauseous for the last 10 - 20 feet. One was an attempted onsight in Yosemite, one was a successful onsight in Squamish, and three were redpoints of memorable sport projects. All of these routes took everything I had mentally and physically, and all of them scared me.

So, in my opinion, it isn't about sport vs. trad. It's about having the guts to get on a route that will test you, and embracing that challenge. That's the same on a hard trad onsight or a sport project at your absolute limit. You work on it because it inspires you. It will demand your best.

Projecting is not fluffing your score card. If it's a true project you may never send it.

Scott, as you are consistently climbing 5.12, you can absolutely climb 5.13. It's okay if the route feels impossible on the first try. The second and third try often feel worse, because you underestimate the moves you were able to do before. Each time you get on the route, explore and learn as much as you can. Your first goal is simply to do all of the moves. It's okay if that takes a long time. Then, you work on refining your sequence to make it more efficient. You only have so much energy to spend, so you want to do each move with as little grip as necessary that still keeps you on the rock. Breathing is essential--rhythmic, deep breath--especially when you are in the middle crux or placing your gear. Above all, you have to love the route, because you will know it intimately by the end. I could go on forever about this, but I supose I've said enough.

Maybe now you can start a thread on what it takes to onsight 5.12.


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By BrianWinslow
From Concord, NH
Feb 15, 2008
Me after climbing the Whitney Gilman Ridge.

Jay Knower wrote:Scott, I think the key to projecting is finding a route that you truly love, that you are happy to be climbing on, even if you are falling all over the thing.

That's right on. I don't project too much and am certainly not any kind of amazing climber, but having fun climbing is what keeps me at it as much as I can, and in the gym in the winter, and out jogging in the rain. Personally I like having one or two ongoing projects that take me a good part of the season to send, mixed in with a lot of quick ascents. This season I plan to have a more serious (I.E. higher grade) project. I just need to find the one harder climb that I can't stop thinking about.

Mike Mullendore wrote: One question I am curious about, when you successfully complete a project do you then say you are a "5.whatever" climber? Or do you say I am a 5.10 climber when you are sure you can onsight any kind of 5.10

I'd personally say that makes you a solid 5.10 climber, because in any situation you can climb 5.10. Not a 5.whatever climber because you found the one route that you made work. It is fun to say what your proudest send is however.


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By KCP
From Eldorado Springs, CO
Feb 15, 2008

Kayte Decker wrote:
A true project feels impossible and, in fact, is impossible when you get on it for the first time. It isn't just cracking a sequence and then putting it together in a few more goes once you've tested the falls. Maybe that sort of "quickie" project is what Adam was talking about, and I would agree that it isn't as hard as onsighting at your limit. A true project isn't like that though. Sending a route that is truly at your limit brings your climbing to a place it has never been -- a level of physical performance and mental commitment you have never previously reached. If I think of my four most memorable routes, I was so exhausted at the top that I felt almost nauseous for the last 10 - 20 feet. One was an attempted onsight in Yosemite, one was a successful onsight in Squamish, and three were redpoints of memorable sport projects. All of these routes took everything I had mentally and physically, and all of them scared me. So, in my opinion, it isn't about sport vs. trad. It's about having the guts to get on a route that will test you, and embracing that challenge. That's the same on a hard trad onsight or a sport project at your absolute limit. You work on it because it inspires you. It will demand your best. Projecting is not fluffing your score card. If it's a true project you may never send it.


Thanks, Kayte.

I was just about to post, and it looks like you addressed everything that I wanted to say. I think you perfectly articulated the essence of projecting, for many of us.


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By MJMobes
From The land of steady habits
Feb 15, 2008
modern man

nothing better to me than an onsight. I can give a route a second try once in a while but it is never as good as the OS.

seeing people that cant onsight one grade projecting a grade or two higher seems like you dont really improve your onsight ability.


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By Hank Caylor
Administrator
From Golden, CO
Feb 15, 2008
Lone goat..

At the very least, I always thought that projecting the right kind of routes(the ones I liked) was a great way to get/stay or progress into shape. Instead of doing the 13c, or whatever, in a few tries I would work it for days,weeks or months. Regardlessly I was always more fit after the send. The mental aspect of not getting overly discouraged over a bad day on a project was invaluable as well. My first 13a took 9 days to fire and I was 20 years old, I'm 39 now and they usually fall in a few tries when in proper shape. The older I get the more easy it is to get back into shape as well (I think this is due to mental strengths more than physical). There is something to be said for embracing the projecting of sport routes, for me, because of the results. I just don't get too caught up in what others think of an individuals training/climbing scenario is, I just do what works for me.

Jay, the 2nd ascent of "the Fiend" 13c/d in Boulder took more than I thought I had in me. The day I fired was, I swore, the LAST FRIGGIN" DAY I was EVER going to walk up that damned hill
for that STUPID ASS route. On a try that I didn't think was going smoothly, I worked into the crux and blind dynoed to the finger lock and it was all over. At least 10 days of work and it has yet to see a 3rd ascent.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Feb 15, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

scott e. tarrant wrote:
thanks jay- i am going to pony up to The Avenger! i have looked at it for many years and forever been attracted. i may be reaching out for specifics... i'll keep you posted. you can lab rat my experience. i will be honest and post updates... i guess at least i picked the route for my first project...now i think it will get harder...i can't talk and think and emote and write my up it can i? thanks, scott


Scott, I'm psyched that you are getting on the Avenger. It's certainly one of those inspiring routes. If you want beta, or additional psyche, let me know.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Feb 15, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

Hank Caylor wrote:
Jay, the 2nd ascent of "the Fiend" 13c/d in Boulder took more than I thought I had in me. The day I fired was, I swore, the LAST FRIGGIN" DAY I was EVER going to walk up that damned hill for that STUPID ASS route. On a try that I didn't think was going smoothly, I worked into the crux and blind dynoed to the finger lock and it was all over. At least 10 days of work and it has yet to see a 3rd ascent.


Wow Hank, that's awesome. I think its important to remember that we all WILL have bad days on our projects. That's just how it goes and you said it well. Sometimes those bad days become very good days.

I have found that when I least expect it, I do well on a project. When I sent Urban Surfer at Rumney, the upper half was dripping wet. I went on it "since we were already at the cliff," and before I knew it I had sent. I just needed to take a bit of pressure off--the fact that the route was in bad condition did just that.


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By Kayte Knower
Feb 15, 2008
paralysis by analysis

Robert Dominguez wrote:
It's a personal victory for me when I finally send something that I've been trying for weeks--something that my friends still don't understand. Speaking of which can definitely have adverse effects--


I know what you mean on this one. Some people get mad when you want to keep going back to the same route a few days in a row. I've even had people at the base ridicule me as I flail around on early attempts. I don't exacly understand why it bothers people...but it truly is against some people's "way." I guess if you love to project, you love to project, and some people will think you have no business on the route. So it goes I guess.


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By Kayte Knower
Feb 15, 2008
paralysis by analysis

DisturbingThePeace wrote:
I started climbing with people who were anti projecting, and encouraged climbing until you fell (on well protected climbs).


I find this really interesting. Why is "climbing until you fall" at odds with having a project? That's what a project is all about to me...a lot of falling on a well protected route.

I can't figure this out about climbing...this idea that you are one way or the other way, a project-er or an onsight-er, a trad climber or a sport climber. I see these as different aspects of climbing, each teaching you different techniques and helping you improve in different areas. They don't have to exclude each other. Do they?


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