The Climbing Project – and how to choose it

The Climbing Project

The project. Dread words for the keenest of climbers. We’ve all got a few unfinished ones hanging around, like that old bike in the shed, waiting for a rainy day. But a well-chosen climbing project should be an inspiration, not a drag – here’s some top climbing tips from Robin Jeffery to make sure it’s the former!

It could be a headpoint or a redpoint where you work a trad climb or a sport climb on a tope rope before you commit to the lead. A top rope climb where you want to climb it in one with no falls or a desperate boulder project. Whatever you choose, the cool and (mostly) drier winter and spring weather systems arriving in the UK can aid your attempts and give your climbing a real kick.

  • Make it hard but not impossible. It may take a couple of projects to get this right but it is better to choose something that is initially too hard than too easy. It maybe good for the ego but easy means you won’t get the benefit of the battle and miss out on an immersive learning experience that will hone your technique and boost your strength. Choose a good climbing guide to get you started!
  • Choose a project that isn’t too far away. You may not be able to get to it after work but if you can make it on a Saturday or on a day off then you are more likely to be able to sustain the motivation required to work it.
  • Get the right tools for the job. If it is a boulder project you will want a good quality matt so that falling off doesn’t distract you from pushing through the hardest section (s). If it is a top rope , headpoint (trad) or a redpoint (sport) project then a quality rope that hasn’t been sitting at the bottom of your wardrobe for the last three years will do wonders for your confidence levels.
  • Get the right tools for the job. Climbing shoes are vital no matter which discipline you choose, Trad, Sport or Bouldering and like most things in our society nowadays, they are highly designed. The right shoes will not climb the route for you but can provide vital assistance.
  • Be clean. A good quality brush to clean the holds, but one that is soft so that it doesn’t damage the rock and an old towel or an off cut of carpet to wipe your shoes are inexpensive ways to ensure maximum contact between you and the rock.
  • Stay motivated. This is properly the most difficult part of projecting. It can be a struggle if you are repeatedly falling on your chosen project. Dave Macleod attempted his world class (E11 7a) head point, Rhapsody for nearly two years before finally completing it. So choose something that really inspires you, for its history, for its situation, for its moves. Remember you can always go back to it and you can always have more than one…

Have fun!

Robin Jeffery is an active climber and keen projector based in Scotland, his blog is here.


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