Working on a route at your limit can be an extremely difficult project. Both mentally and physically. A lot of people think that trying a route at your limit is mostly a physical battle. You don't have enough power or endurance to do the moves or climb the route without falling. The majority of people may think this is the biggest battle; however the reality can be far from this. A challenging project can push you deep into a mental battle that might become extremely difficult to overcome. Even more so than the physical battle. I haven't worked on a difficult route for years now. I have been mostly alpine climbing and traveling quite a bit so usually I never work on one specific route for more than a few tries. This trip to Spain I decided to do things differently. I wanted to work on one route that is at my limit. Something very close to the edge of failure. These are my feelings on projecting so far (and it is only the first week):
The first couple of days I was really excited to try the route. The moves were hard, but trying them was satisfying. I climbed the route move to move but it felt good to try the moves individually, to learn how to grab each hold and find the subtleties in each grip. Every time I fell I didn't have any negative feelings about it since I expected to fail on these hard moves the first few tries.
Very soon things changed. On my third day on the route if I couldn't do certain moves right away I felt frustrated. I felt like I was taking a step back. How can I keep falling on these moves? I have already done them a few time, but since they are at my limit they didn't get any easier.
I feel extremely upset I am not making any progress. I expected the moves to get easier a lot faster. How is it that on my 3rd day on the route no individual moves feel easier. Let alone linking sections on the 40+meter route. How am I supposed to have a positive attitude to redpointing the route in a 3 week from when no progress is made in 3 days.
I am learning to deal with this feeling of failure as we go. I don't know how things are going to turn out, but I will try and keep the psyche high.
All I know is that as of now I already feel like I don't want to keep trying the route if all I will experience is failure. I understand this is a natural process of working a route, but it just feels extremely depressing. I have a lot of respect and admiration to people who work on routes for years at a time. I just read a post about Joe Kinder sending his 6 year project. Chris Sharma countless projects that he keeps getting back to. Reading this is very humbling and motivating.
I hope I don't get discouraged working on this route. I will try and push myself to the very end of the trip and see how it goes. I don't want to experience this feeling of frustration and failure, but it is a part of climbing. It is something I must learn to deal with and through the process become a better climber and better yet a better human being.
Perseverance and hope are important human traits that can be applied in all aspects of life.
Push forward and move on!!!