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11 Simple Projecting Tips for Rock Climbing

Dan Mirsky likes to keep things simple. He also likes to try hard. He also likes climbing. With those powers combined, he brings you: 11 Simple Projecting Tips.

If you’ve made the decision to project a route at your limit, congrats! You have—in fact—set yourself up for an inherently frustrating process! There’s no way around it; you have lots of failing in your future, but failing correctly right now is actually what will help you have success later. Let's get started.

#1: Know that projecting is a process! It has a beginning, middle, and end.

Sometimes it’s a short process and sometimes it takes a very long time, but if you are deliberate in your process you can make the most out of each time you climb. This is your best strategy for speeding the process along.
Always have a plan. Each time you go to your project, be deliberate. This is the best advice I can offer–all of the other tips will only help if you follow this step.
The redpoint is the conclusion. The process of projecting is the body of the work. So, put your energy into each step of the process and you will reach the conclusion.

#2: Be prepared

As climbers, we like to think we take climbing seriously, but compared to other sports, we are really pretty haphazard and short-sighted in our approach and preparation. To be less haphazard-ish, predetermine what your project requires. 
Strength? Power? Endurance? Try to figure this out well before you invest in projecting the route—then train that specific aspect. For example, if it’s a 150-foot overhanging pump fest and you are more of a boulderer, maybe lay off the max hangs and do some endurance work.
Know the right season, the right time of day, and the right temperature for good conditions. When it is time to redpoint, you don’t want to mess around with crappy send temps. Good weather means more fun and more success.
Pictured: Dan Mirsky on Necessary Evil (5.14a) / Photo by Matt Pincus

#3: Be a scientist

Even if everyone tells you there’s only one way to do a move, (whether it’s a crux or an entire section), find out for yourself. If you can figure out your own way to do every move, you will more often than not find beta that is right for you. It's good to have an unadulterated experience. If your beta is terrible, then ask others for suggestions.
Be a scientist and keep re-testing your work. Always be open to making a change. Sometimes switching up your beta can be just what you need to break out of a rut.

#4: Break the project down into a series of manageable goals

Your ultimate goal is the send, but you need to break the project down and master each part. At first, this might just be learning all the moves. Then it might be linking the crux moves, etc.
- Having bitesize goals aids continuous progress and staves off frustration. 
- Do whatever it takes to achieve your small goals thereby making your execution as efficient as possible. 
- Mastering each section will decrease your energy consumption and increase the likelihood of sending.
Pictured: Dan Mirsky on Fat Camp (5.14d) / Photo by Matt Pincus

#5: Don’t let your expectations exceed your reality

Just because you want to send the route doesn’t mean you are ready, so don’t set unrealistic expectations that will lead to demotivation. Also, it can be great to use the success and handwork of others as motivation, but be careful not to compare yourself to someone else. Your process is your own.

#6: Keep the psych high

Show up at your project psyched and focused—don’t forget, you brought your goals and reasonable expectations with you.
If you show up to your project and you are not psyched, try something else. Step away, take a break, find a way to regain your stoke. Keep in mind, you picked the proj because it is hard, so find a way to be satisfied with your effort!

#7: Linking through the Redpoint Crux!!

By this point, you’ve sussed out the beta and moves. Now it’s time to link and progress.
Climb through the redpoint crux and see if you can keep going to the next rest (or even better, to the top of the route). Next, start to link other moves into the redpoint crux. Start from a move, a bolt, and eventually a whole section of climbing before the crux and climb through it.
The bigger link you make through the crux, the closer you are to doing the route. Don’t forget about the sections after the crux, either. Big overlapping links of sections are much better markers of progress than high points from the ground.
Pictured: Dan Mirsky on Planet Earth (5.14a) / Photo by Matt Pincus

#8: Practice for the performance

Practice the hard parts, the easy parts, the rests, the tempo of your climbing, and your breathing—practice everything. If you are deliberate with practicing practice, you will be ready for your performance and have fewer surprises when you start redpointing.

#9: Learn something new every time you get on your project.

Each time you climb is a new experience. Be open to each experience and the possibility of learning something new. Even if you have tried the route 100 times, try putting your foot somewhere different, try grabbing a hold in a different way. (You’re a scientist.) Always be open to learning and testing, even if what you learn is that your method is the still the best one for you.

#10: Visualize

Whether you’re working on beta or getting ready for a redpoint burn, positive visualization can help you be confident and strong. Envision realistic achievements and make them happen. Remember, you make your reality; if you visualize yourself climbing confidently, you likely will.

#11: When the time comes, TRY HARD

I can’t stress this enough! When you work a project and have the moves wired, sometimes it can be difficult to remember that you still need to exert a ton of effort to succeed. The climb is hard–– that’s why it’s your project. Once you’ve exhausted all mental preparedness, get in touch with physical preparedness, because you’re going to need it.

That’s it! Follow these 11 Tips and success is yours! Haha, if only....Anyone who has undertaken a hard project knows it’s never quite that simple. The physical and mental challenge of trying something close to your limit means rubbing up against what is possible. It means the window for success is narrow, it means conditions, skin, psych, and vibe can make or break a given try (or the entire season).

‍Photo by Kris Ugarriza

Hopefully, a few of the above tips help you stack the odds in your favor, help open that window a little wider, or boost a little confidence. In the end, there’s only one tried-and-true way to send the gnar: Get out there and try!

See ya at the cliff!


Dan Mirsky organizes his life around climbing and keeping things simple. From time to time he also enjoys writing, training, and more climbing. Follow him on Instagram at @danmirsky
Want more? Check out Dan's in-depth "The Process of Projecting" on the Training Beta Blog!
Follow Photographer/FL Athlete Matt Pincus @mpincus87
And Photographer/Climber Kris Ugarriza @krisugarriza
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