Send As SMS

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Tips for Redpointing Your Project

The late-season is a time when your training and climbing should yield a performance peak and, hopefully, a few breakthrough ascents. But the process of sending a route at your limit can be frustrating and often doubt-producing. Clearly, you will be tested physically, technically, and mentally.

Rehearsing and sending your project is a process in which you must review and refine every aspect of climbing the route. Some common performance-limiting factors to consider--and hopefully correct during your reheaseral--are: economy of movement (lackluster technique and physical tension that will drain you), overgripping of handholds (anxiety and fear manifesting itself), missed holds and rests (climbing with blinders on), and shaken confidence (negative thoughts that are weighing you down).

Each of these factors accelerates energy drain, and failure is all but certain if you suffer from two or more of these handicaps. Thus, like cutting fat from a piece of steak, it's vital that you refine your movement by cutting out any unnecessary moves or time spent hanging out in strenuous positions. Your goal is to move briskly from one rest position to the next, with the highest possible fuel-economy. Strive to elevate the quality of your ascent with every practice attempt, and soon the redpoint will be in the bag.

Closing the Deal
The nature of "projecting" is to work a route at or beyond your current limit. A successful redpoint, therefore, requires near-perfect execution as well as an anxiety-free and well-rested body. In the case of a route that you quickly solved and rehearsed, it may be possible to close the deal on the spot. But first, take a 20- to 30-minute rest (or more) to recover from your practice efforts. Remove your climbing shoes, get a drink, and walk-off any existing tension, so as to feel completely fresh and relaxed for your redpoint attempt. (A long, severe project may require that you return another day with a full gas tank. Take two full rest days and then return to the project and mail it in!)

When you are ready to climb, take the route one chunk at a time whether it's bolt to bolt or rest to rest. The burden of looking up and considering the route as a whole can be too great and may plant the seeds of failure in the form of jitters and doubts. Mentally tick off each chunk as you complete it--this will build confidence and help propel you upward. Before you know it, you will be clipping the anchors!

Photo: EH repeating the classic Bullet the New Sky (12b), a route he established in 1989 at the Endless Wall, New River Gorge, WV. Courtesy of