I think I'm walking away from my project

I just felt like sharing my journey, because so far this year has been really amazing! Starting January, I’ve been working to go from 7a (5.11d) to 8a (5.13b) in a single year. I asked this community before, and the lesson I learned from it is that it is possible…

I started working on mental skills (fear of falling and overgripping) and sent my first 7b, worked on tactics (I’m mostly a boulderer and sport climbing is relatively new to me) and sent my first 7c. Then for the 8a project, I started physical training (hangboard training) and picked a very ambitious route: Hermann Buhl (8a+).

The first session, I couldn’t do about 60% of the route on toprope and my belayer had to pull me through most of the difficult sections. But I was psyched on this route, and it also made sense in terms of climbing partners and access. Also, I have some hip issues and none of the moves in this route seemed to cause any pain or require anything impossible from me (like high feet).
Slowly but surely, I started unlocking sequences by working them in isolation. It took me over 15 sessions to unlock all the moves. But in the progress, I became a MUCH better climber. Especially in terms of different hold types (crimps), body tension and momentum.

It’s an ambitious project, so I made sure I did whatever I could think of to give myself an advantage. This includes technique training, coaching, beta tips from others, supplements and replicating the crux sections on kilterboard (look for kilterboard problems called hermann buhl crux). I’m even scanning the crux holds in 3D so I can re-create an exact replica at home :stuck_out_tongue:
Also, the physical gains over the last few months have been huge: I went from holding a 20mm edge at about 119% body weight to 142% (yay newbie gains). This is making a massive difference, but I’m still in the progress of learning how to apply this newly developed strength.

Because this is such an ambitious project, and because I decided to challenge myself and try to do an 8a this year, I also set a deadline (highpoint to about halfway up the route). Today was that deadline, and I failed. I came short one move on every attempt…
Even on my last attempt, when I was exhausted, a bit dehydrated and the route was in the sun, I got to the same spot. I’ve made massive improvements, but it looks like this project won’t be very realistic - at least not for this year. There’s a couple of really big moves (including a dyno) and I power out too quickly to do them right now. I will work on it by working on climbing speed, technique, strategy and physical training, but I think it’s best I pick a different 8a project for this year and leave Hermann Buhl for the future.

I’m really proud of my progress, grateful to be able to try this and I absolutely loved every minute of it. I’m even smiling and laughing when I fall, that’s how much I’m enjoying it all :slight_smile:

In that sense, this project has been a huge success! The reason I started on this journey is because I didn’t enjoy sport climbing - and my hip issues will probably mean I’ll have to stop bouldering soon. Trying to get to 8a in a single year is super motivating to me, and I knew it was what I needed to learn to appreciate sport climbing some more :slight_smile:
… And I still have 4 months left to send my first 8a :wink:

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Good work, and good plan. Don’t forget 7c+ while you’re at it though. Might seem slower to do it first, but that’s rarely actually the case.
At any rate, not a bad idea to walk away with good lessons and move on to something else. It’ll still be there.

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You’re probably right. Whenever I have the opportunity to visit the crag (it’s a 4 hour drive) I tend to focus on either my project, or relatively easy routes. So not skipping any steps on my way to 8a is good advice!

At the same time though, I’m also trying to figure out what I enjoy doing. I have some experience now with smaller projects (up to 6 sessions), and Hermann Buhl as my only big project. I spent 20 sessions on it, and I swear every time I walked away a better climber. I absolutely loved it, so I kinda want to pick another 8a and spend dozens of sessions on it. The grind is something I want to experience right now, after this year (or whenever I send the 8a) I’ll start being sensible again :wink:

Mega impressive progression, congrats!
Are you still building your pyramid of grades under 8a?
A good change of direction is to drop the grade down a little and focus on technical improvements, or improving your onsighting. Both will help when you get back on your 8a(s)

Either way, all the best- looking forward to hearing about your send before years end :rocket:

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I should, as it’s good advice! I probably only have 5 weekends to spend on real rock though, so that makes it harder to build a pyramid. I’ll definitely do that next year, though! So many beautiful 7a-7c routes out there that I could try.

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Are you Europe based? If you can get away to Spain or France, short winter sun trips are a perfect time for perfecting your onsighting skillset

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That’s my plan, actually! Right now I’m 100% focussed on red pointing, but after this project I wanted to take trips to different (new) climbing areas and develop my on sighting game (which right now is non-existent haha).

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