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Thinking about projecting

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
3 min read

I’m very much an onsight climber. I’m happiest when I spot a route that inspires me, I rack up, walk up to it, and crush it clean. I am most at ease, and feel a sense of accomplishment from my onsights. I like the preparation… the route reading, the power and sense of “hang on” that comes with the inspiration I’ve gotten by looking at the route, and I’ve got a pretty good eye for what I can onsight, and what looks more iffy to me. So, I wind up doing mostly onsight climbing, and very rarely stick to a project long enough for a redpoint. Redpointing, or projecting, is frustrating for me… I am less comfortable with the peaks and valleys of projecting… the two steps forward, one step (or more) backward that I feel when I’m projecting hard routes. My onsight attempt is generally my strongest… after that, everything just feels… so… HARD. But, in the last year or so I’ve gotten through my last plateau, I’ve had a ton of fun climbing, and now, I find myself inspired to project.

Today, I went into the gym, and Alex had set a new 11b-ish route. I’m toproping 11a’s in the gym, and working them on lead (but don’t get too excited – I still climb 5.9 and 10- outside). He thought it would be a great, not easy, route for me, so I warmed up really slowly, all the while working the route out by sight during my turns belaying. It really did catch my eye… I could see the moves, and didn’t see any stoppers, so got excited about my onsight attempt. Finally, I got a chance to walk up the route… telling myself… “I can do this…” as I prepared to toprope the climb.


Right off the ground, it was hard. The start took me two tries — the first time I missed a key hand hold that I thought was a foot. Second try was a charm. I made it through the start, just the way I’d read and planned the sequence, and got to about the fourth bolt, feeling really strong, and feeling good and positive for how well I’d read the route from the ground. I made the move to a good horizontal pinch, then had to cross my other hand up to a hard, angled pinch and my endurance just gave out and I couldn’t hold the pinch. I took a good hangdog rest, then got back on… I fell again at the very top, and then made it to the finish hold. I felt worked… but enthusiastic and inspired. There were no stopper moves on the route… it’s just a matter of endurance… but it will definitely take me some work to get it done.

It got me thinking about what I look for in a project. Bouldering, I like hard moves and sequences that shut me down at the beginning and that get do-able in time. On routes, though, what I gravitate toward are routes where I can make all the moves, but just need to train my efficiency and endurance in order to put it all together. For this route, I definitely need to work my pinch strength, and my overall endurance. The plan will be some time on the pinch training wall at the gym (started today after training) and probably some 4×4 bouldering (4 routes in a row ending just short of pumped; 3 minutes rest; repeat x 4). That particular route was inspiring to me because I’m at the point where climbs that are hard for me usually throw me off because I screw up the sequence or a foot slips, or I just don’t know what to do… it was really nice to get on a route that just plain pumped me out, since that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

I wrapped up the day with three sets of dips, heavy finger rolls with two 25 lb weights on the bar, light weight wrist rolls and a half-assed attempt at pull-ups, chin-ups and frenchies… but by then I was so tired and hungry I wasn’t into the “ups” so called it a day. My forearms are super tired, which is refreshing… it’s been a long time since they’ve been this worked. I climbed and trained especially hard since the weather forecast is bad — so it may be a few days before I’m back in the gym. I knew I’d have a good long stretch to recover, and to daydream about that new project…

Your turn. What do you look for in a project? What inspires you? And, how do you train for a project? Please share your thoughts by commenting, below!

Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.