What's a (climbing) project?

One or two of the non-climbers reading this blog have asked me what I mean by a 'project' in relation to climbing. Surely the aim is to just get to the top, right?

To explain, there's a few types of climbing. I'm going to be vague here so, climbers, be nice :)
There's bouldering. This is literally just trying to climb a boulder. You can see a lot of this going on down in Glendalough. It's amazingly strong and powerful, and doesn't involve a rope, just the use of a mat to fall onto, and the trust that your friends are watching you to protect you when you fall.
Traditional Climbing: placing the protection while you are climbing. Probably the purest form (bar climbing without ropes). This involves the use of lots of fancy gadgets (friends/wires/hexes) that can be placed into natural cracks so that if you fall off, this will stop you falling to the ground.
Sport climbing: Drilled bolts. they're fixed permanently to the wall and you just clip into them as you climb by. (Relatively) safe, and it means that you can really push your limit as there's less of a worry about protection (that happens when you're climbing traditional). Very much a compromise between bouldering and traditional, as you're climbing very difficult moves, but also climbing long routes.

We're currently trying sports (and what I really love). Usually you just go for a route and aim to get it in one go. The aim is to always climb a full route without any rests or falling off. As you start to push the difficulty, it obviously gets closer and closer to your personal limit, so moves have to be practised by going up the route, resting and trying each (or multiple) moves individually. This is what becomes a 'project'. As an example, the route that makes the best climbing photo we have so far (of me hanging from my arms) was a project of mine. I had to practise the moves twice, and it took my almost 10 goes in the end to climb the route without falling. The factor that also comes into play is mental. For me, I fell off a single move at the very top 5 times in a row - it was the second last hold, so as you can appreciate, you start to have mental doubts about whether you can do it or not. It requires a lot of strength (mentally) to erase all doubts for each attempt.
See that photo at the top? That was as hard as it looks, and Diarmuid repeatedly fell from this move. You can imagine what it does to your mind for each successive attempt, there's lots of doubts that creep in.

O.k., hopefully that clears up some confusion? Post it in the comments, or mail me directly!
Neal McQuaidclimbingComment