Monday, December 10, 2012

Projecting Monster Skank or How to Be Awesome Without Being a Jerk

proj·ect noun 

Something that is contemplated, devised, or planned; plan; scheme.


I would definitely consider myself somewhat of a weekend warrior. Not that I can only climb on the weekends but I, like the vast majority of climbers, can't/don't climb for a living. Not everyone can be a professional. Myself, I really enjoy stuff. A nice apartment, great food, lots of climbing gear I have slowly acquired over the years, books... you know, stuff. Also, I'm not that good so no one is going to pay me to climb. This doesn't mean, however, that I can't push myself and try hard. Can it be more challenging in some ways than someone able to live at a crag for weeks, if not months on end, why yes of course; but not impossible.

Projecting for the average girl can be a challenge: we're shorter and comparatively not as strong as our male counterparts. HOWEVER, there are other aspects where we have an advantage: our fingers/hands are smaller (yay finger locks!), we're lighter (so less weight to carry) and often times strength gets replaced by technique. Obviously this is not the rule for all the ladies but in my long career of observation it rings pretty true. My sport project is called Monster Skank (.13b) in the Front Corridor out in Red Rocks. This is definitely the hardest climb I have ever worked on and a little part of me thinks I have no business getting on a route this hard but here I am anyway.

Photo by T. Stark

The first two bolts (hooray fixed draws!) are casual, probably 5.8/9 jug haul, then the party starts immediately with two finger locks one after the other. The next moves are pretty crappy intermediate slopey/nothing crimps with a dynamic move to another crappy hold. Love it.

Photo by Lacey Jones

As of this weekend, my high point is just below the fourth bolt. For a lot of you, this might not seem like much progress (it's a 9 bolter) but for me it's huge. My goal on this trip was getting to the fourth bolt, since I can manage the first three fairly easily. I had to figure out some intermediate holds to get to the actual move since I cannot reach otherwise.

Photo by Lacey Jones

I've never really worked a project on sport and any progress is welcome, however small it may be. Figuring out beta is critical, especially if you need to make extra moves, since you still want to try and conserve as much energy as possible.

Something to understand when you choose a project is that the route must speak to you in some way. Myself, I like aesthetics, if I don't find the line attractive I don't want to climb it, no matter how awesome the grade. If I get on a route and am not stoked on it I have no issue not finishing it. For some people it is all about the rating. That's cool if that is what speaks to you.

One of the most important things for me, even just climbing in general, is to always have fun. It may seem idyllic and granola but when it is no longer enjoyable, why the hell are you doing it? Too often I see climbers pissed off, frustrated and generally an ass to those around them when they're projecting. I'm hard on myself but don't take it out on other people. Trying hard means failing, no matter what level you are at; just don't be a jerk about it. Laugh, joke and enjoy the company you keep. Don't be too selfish and thank your friends for hanging out (especially your belayer) while you spend countless hours repeating the same moves over and over. If you don't feel it, walk away and come back another time. If you're too tired, get to your gym and train.

If you want to project something, you need to train. I don't care if it's a 5.8 or a 5.14, you gotta work for it. That means getting to the gym and building strength and endurance. Seems basic but it isn't, it's something you need to want and have the discipline to follow through, especially since your time at the route is limited. I will be changing up my training at the gym to be tailored to this route.

Rest is also something a lot of climbers overlook. I want to stay as injury free as possible, so if that means laying off for a few days or a week, so be it. A lot of climbers I know push through the onset of injury because they are determined to get stronger but determination doesn't make you smarter. Listen to your body and realize that oftentimes the rest will make you better. Building muscle means tearing it first, you need to let that heal if you want a long an prosperous climbing career (as I do).

So this is where it stands. Progress usually doesn't happen overnight but it does happen. As of now I have been on this climb three times, I expect it will take me that many times multiplied to send yet I know it will go. Change in the world is inevitable but change in yourself only happens when you are willing to become better.

"You must never stand still. You're either moving upward a little bit or you're going the other way. You can't expect to go upward too quickly, but you can sure go down very quickly. The slide down happens in a hurry. Progress comes slowly but steadily if you are patient and prepare diligently."
- Coach John Wooden

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