Projecting is a double edge sword. I believe every climber has a love-hate relationship with it. Projecting allows us to redpoint our hardest climbs, but the process can be frustrating and depressing.
I just recently redpointed my very first 5.13—Teardrop (5.13a) on the Cannabis Wall in American Fork Canyon, UT. I am stoked to finally mark off the route and that milestone as complete. Teardrop is a quality route and makes for a perfect introductory 5.13.
I first hopped on this route back in May 2013. To my surprise, I was able to hang-dog my way to the top on the first day. All the moves and sequences were doable for me. I just needed to fine tune the beta and link everything together. I was hoping it would only take me a few months of dedicated effort.
July came around and I was one hanging the route with my highpoint at the top of the last crux. I thought I’d be able to send the route before I was abducted by the Outdoor Retailer show and the Idaho Mountain Festival. But I didn’t.
After a two month break from the route, I was able to hop back on Teardrop and resume projecting it in October. I was happy to find out that I could still one hang it, but sad to see that my highpoint had lowered to the undercling-traverse crux.
I spent the rest of that season falling at the same spot, on the same hold…over and over and over again. I was determined to finish the route that year; I would even wake up early on November mornings before work to climb the route with a headlamp in 35-40º weather. Still the one hang.
I couldn’t believe how long it took me to finally get past that never-ending one-hang plague. I even spent the money to have a membership at the local climbing gym during the winter to assure that I’d be ready for the route come springtime. But a minor finger pulley injury and shoulder problem made me take some time off right before spring.
I was unmotivated to hop back on the route this season. I knew that my fitness wasn’t up to par for the send and I didn’t want to throw myself back on that route if I didn’t have a fighting chance. After climbing a lot of tall and fun routes during the spring, I finally went over to the Cannabis wall in late June. I hadn’t forgotten the beta and my body still knew how to hold on until the dreaded one-hang spot. At least I didn’t show any sign of regression.
Even though I sent the route on July 24, I should have gotten the redpoint on July 22 when I botched the send my screwing up the top out moves after finally passing the two cruxes without falling. Man was that a downer.
Now that I’ve ticked that route off my list, I look back and see that the most frustrating part of the whole thing—projecting—provided more life-long memories and experiences than the actual send. The send was just a matter minutes while the projecting consisted of a years worth of work. It was the projecting that made my body and mind stronger, taught me patience, and made and strengthened some life-long friendships.
I value the result, but I cherish the process.