Something about the grade just seems so alluring. So legitimate. So just ever-so-slightly out of reach. So here I am, to bring it so close you’ll be able to give it a hug and kiss on the forehead. Tenderly. As you would your first born, because climbing your first 24 feels just as good. Better if you ask me. No, I don’t have kids. Why do you ask?
Step 1 – Pick your climb
Do you remember any goal setting classes you sat through in school or work? Well if not, here’s a quick refresher. Goals need to be SMART.
Let’s break these down in terms of picking a climb.
Being specific gets you focused. Saying ‘oh yeah, I’d like to climb 24’ is useless. You need your attention on a particular climb to have the direction and drive you’ll need to go up a grade.
This one’s easy. Did you climb it, yes or no? Moving on.
I truly believe anyone can climb 24 with some work and training, but if you haven’t climbed 23 yet, focus there first. Don’t set goals that will loom over you and demotivate you with how far away they seem. The great thing about climbing is that’s easy, just make your goal the next grade. In fact, you can apply this formula to any grade.
Let’s talk style. Yes, it’d be sick to climb that mega roof line which will net you sweet Instagram pics, but if you’re at home tip-toeing up a slab projecting something at a new grade that isn’t your style is going to be tough and potentially demotivating. Moving up a grade is hard, and you should start with climbs that suit what you’re good at.
It’s important to set a point by which you want to achieve a goal. It inspires you to act because holy shit the end of the year is coming around fast and you haven’t done it yet. I like to set my climbing goals to be quarterly personally. I find it more motivating as 3 months is long enough that I feel like I’ve got time, but not so long that I feel like I can slack off on it.
Step 2 – Assemble your crew
Projecting is a big job, and not everyone is keen to be belay bitch for 45 minutes while you swing around on the other end of the rope. Its important you find people who don’t mind this, or even better, actively enjoy and support it.
Personally, when I’m projecting, I’ve two main people I like to call upon. My first mate I’ve been climbing with for 4+ years, and at the end of the day is just happy to be outdoors and having a good time for the day. If it means he’s on the end of a rope for 2 hours, that’s fine.
My other mate is a grade 30 climber and is brilliant to project with because he’s done so much of it. He knows the work that needs to go in, so he has no problem with the time aspect. He’s also great because he’s basically rain man when it comes to beta and remembers all the moves to climbs he did years ago, so he’s able to help out heaps when it comes to working routes.
Finding people who are happy to support your projecting will allow you to properly project, without constantly worrying about if the other person is getting tired/annoyed/bored, giving you more focus for the battle itself.
Oh, also make sure they’re a good belayer. Nothing worse than being short roped at the anchors when you’re pumped out of your brain.
Step 3 – Work it
Climb, fall, work moves, repeat.
Seriously, that’s it. If you’re climbing 23, you’re almost certainly strong enough to climb a 24. Its just a matter of learning the moves, beta, maybe some technique work and putting in the time. If you try your climb once a month don’t expect to see much progress. Once a week is a bare minimum.
Learn the moves, and spend time visualising them. I want you to know the moves to your project so well you can still tell me them in 5 years’ time. I want you to dream about these moves. I want you to talk about these moves with such a passion and fervour people start to back away slowly while holding their children behind their back. Basically, go insane.
Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal.
Step 4 – Send it!
I’m not sure what you expect from me here. Just do the damn climb already. Then have a celebratory beer after. Best tasting beer you’ll ever have. Also grab me one, I’ve earned it.