World Class Bouldering
Inclusive Environment
Amazing Value for Money

January 16, 2024

The Projecting Process

What is a project?

In the context of climbing, a project is a climb or boulder problem that is currently out of reach of your current skill set or strength level. Projects require dedication, sustained effort and perhaps some specific training. Some projects may be single-session ticks, others are multi-year sieges. Projecting can mean spending an afternoon on a V3 purple route, to Johnny Kydd’s 150+ session siege of a V15.

Identifying a suitable project

This is an often-overlooked part of projecting but can largely dictate how fulfilling the process is and the eventual outcome. Typically, I find the most rewarding climbs are those that enable me to fine-tune my strengths or require me to work on my weaknesses. Being intrinsically motivated by a climbs’ aesthetic or movement will help sustain psyche, particularly with longer term projects which could require multiple visits to the crag or wall.

Other factors to consider include ease of access, the aspect of the crag (does it get the sun and at what time etc.), conditions (time it takes to dry), rock quality (i.e. will it damage your skin) and of course, difficulty. Motivations will differ from person to person, but I always prioritize the quality & difficulty of the boulder/route over something which may be an easier tick logistically. My project list varies from approx. 7B/V8 to 8A/V11. The 7B’s may go in one session (although often this is not the case!), while the 7C+/8A’s will probably require session numbers in the double digits.


Motivation is extremely subjective, but I’m lucky to have naturally high levels of motivation pretty much all the time. The key to sustaining motivation is mixing up the style of climbing (bouldering*, sport*, trad*, alpine*, winter etc.), particularly in the UK where conditions and weather can be especially fickle. I’ll typically trad climb in spring/summer when it tends to be too warm to boulder at my limit and boulder in autumn and winter when conditions are better (colder temperatures & lower humidity tend to deliver optimal conditions for climbing).

Having a few short/medium-term projects is a great way to break the monotony of longer-term projects. Another great option is to have the odd ‘volume day’ where you just onsight*/flash*/repeat routes and boulders to remind yourself how to top* a climb and why we fell in love with the sport in the first place!

promise I am human though and I do struggle to stay motivated during sustained hot weather and during periods of lay-off due to injury. If you find motivation dipping, don’t worry! This is natural, and is an important part of rest and avoiding longer term mental/physical burnout.

Chris’ top five tips for projecting!

1) Try to really enjoy the process of projecting (can be easier said than done!). Success is far from guaranteed and typically rather fleeting!

2) Mix up the style/rock type/climbing discipline as much as possible.

3) Climb & train with psyched people who have similar goals.

4) Don’t worry about failure – projects should push you hard and you’re as likely to fail as you are to succeed.

5) Don’t be put off by trying the higher grades.

Climbing dictionary:

Onsight - when a climber completes a route in one go on their first attempt, without falling, without any practice on the route and without any advice or info on the route.

Flash - when a climber completes a route in one go on their first attempt, but with prior knowledge about the route (perhaps from a friend, online, or a climbing guide book).

Top (as in “to top a climb”) - completing a climb!

Bouldering - climbing without ropes or harnesses, often using a mat for safety.

Sport (as in “sport climbing”) - a style of roped climbing, where the climber clips their rope to bolts/anchors which are permanently fixed to the route.

Trad (as in “trad climbing”) - Similar to above, but without permanent bolts/anchors. Instead, climbers affix their own temporary anchors as they climb.

Alpine (as in “Alpine climbing”) - a broad term for mountaineering using a range of skills, including ice climbing and the above climbing styles, in an alpine environment (brrr!).

What to Read Next