A ‘project’ is a climb that you haven’t yet competed clean yet. Completing a climb clean means no falls and make it all the way to the top like there is no rope on you. There are tons of climbs I haven’t done clean and I don’t care about that but completing a ‘project’ is different…
My first 7a was called ‘Haute Cuisine’- it’s an awesome climb!!! It has to be one of my favourite climbs of all time as it’s very technical with precise moves and delicate feet. Pymn and I had tried this climb over and over for what must have been the best part of 6 weeks; going down to The Cuttings, warming up on something much easier, then getting the clip stick out and working out every move. Pymn got it before me but when I did get it WOOOOOOOHHHHHOOOOOOOOOO! It was amazing! To be honest, it was well out of my grade at that point so the sense of achievement was huge. It felt even better because I placed all the gear on the way up.
But then what?
We headed to Coastguards to find some more climbs we could ‘project’. The climbs are taller there averaging about 25 meters. We got on some great climbs but nothing stuck with me until a local called Natalia asked if we wanted to top rope a climb she was on called ‘Superfly Guy’. The beauty of climbing is that 99% of climbers are nice (more so out on the rock than in the gym) and they will happily share good routes, beta or any advice with you. So I had a go on top rope and managed to read the puzzling, pumpy section at the bottom quite well but then I struggled through the middle before I worked my way up the delicate slab arête to the top. That was it- I was hooked!
I returned to Coastguards several times over the next year but never really concentrated enough on it as the crag doesn’t offer many climbs to warm up on. I always felt bad dragging people there so I could have a go as well. I got over that feeling a few weeks ago and managed to get Connie to come and belay for me on a Thursday and managed 2 full leads on it but each time I got stuck on a tough crimp with very particular feet. My next attempt on lead (although making the same mistake) was much better and I knew what I had to do to get it clean, but unfortunately we started running out of sun and arms.
For some reason I ended up climbing the next 4 days straight- which was amazing and included a trip to Dartmoor. On the Bank Holiday Monday, I dragged Pymn and Connie back down to Coastguards and we played on some other routes. One route was a super hard 7b and then we decided to hit up ‘Superfly Guy’. Pymn went for it first already having it clean from a while ago; he just missed out on a couple of feet this time but put the gear in for me. I went through the pumpy bottom section using Connie’s new beta and headed for the crimp and awkward feet- got it in one! Now it was time to have a little rest on the jug to move on to the slab to the top. I knew I had done it once I hit that jug as the slab has never been a problem, yet I was very careful and took tons of time making sure I didn’t make any silly mistakes and I got it!
‘Projects’ are one of my favourite parts of climbing as you achieve something you didn’t think you could do and you spend time and effort thinking and learning a route and it sticks with you. What do you get from it? A fist bump and congratulation from your belayers- what a great climb!