Scarpa North America Blog

What I’ve Learned: Dan Beall Talks his Buttermilks Super Project “The Process” (V16)

Jun. 24th 2015

This winter marked the culmination of my longest project, originally The Grandpa Project, now “The Process” (V16) after a Daniel Woods FA, in the Buttermilks near Bishop, California. Though this season ended regrettably with the destruction of the crux hold rather than a send, I still learned a lot about working a project of this magnitude. Like most people, the bulk of my climbing is on things that I can do relatively quickly. Seven days is the most I’ve spent on a line that I’ve actually completed, yet I’ve been invested in The Grandpa Project for 5 years now. As I spent more and more time on this line, discovering, cleaning, and preparing the line itself, overcoming injury, hold breakage, and weather, I’ve realized that my motivations and approach needed to be much different than they would be for normal climbing.

Dan Beall works The Grandpa Project in The Buttermilks

Dan Beall works The Grandpa Project. Photo: Shane Smith

Trying to flash, or send a climb quickly, requires you to be very present, very success oriented. You must visualize the climb and imagine yourself succeeding. Imagine overcoming any mistakes and sending now. To some extent these techniques can help on bigger projects, but I’ve found that at my limit, the approach needs to be a bit “sideways.” You can’t put pressure on yourself to have to send on any given attempt or day. Trying something that truly pushes you takes time, and it’s easy to get burned out or discouraged without more attainable short term goals. It’s crucial to find small successes – slightly better beta, or dialing in a single move – to take away from each session. I had to fully commit and give 100 percent effort to execute perfectly while trying not to rush or get frustrated at the same time. It was a hard balance to find. I found it helped to take breaks, to remember the project would be there later, and to go circuit easier climbs. It helped me step back and feel less beaten down. Strangely, the trick I found to be most helpful was to do eliminates‑‑trivial, silly challenges that counteracted and balanced the pressure I put on myself to send my project. I’d skip holds on climbs that I had wired. I’d try to do things without climbing shoes, climb slabs with no hands, climb blindfolded, or in ski mittens, whatever. The idea was to recapture the whimsical nature of climbing that can be lost when you become too engrossed in a project. It helped me relax and rebuild “Try Hard” for later.

Night Session on The Grandpa Project with Dan Beall

Night session on The Grandpa Project. Photo: Andy Wickstrom

On the physical side of things, I had two realizations. First, I found I needed to be perfect to have the chance to succeed at my limit. I couldn’t just get through the moves. They needed to be a breeze. After my initial warm up, I would do the problem in chunks before giving redpoint burns. This would allow me to do the movements with extra energy and focus solely on execution and efficiency, so when I got to those cruxes on send goes, I could execute without thinking. My goal was to be able to walk up to the climb and flip the switch, just think “climb” rather than where to put my feet or how to grab a hold. I tried to make the movements so engrained that the whole climb was essentially one command. Second, I discovered the longer I worked on one climb, the weaker I got, which sucks. You try as hard as you can, at or even beyond your limit and feel wrecked. And you get weaker. It’s hard to get enough time climbing when you’re testing yourself, and your movements get repetitive, allowing other areas of your climbing to degrade. The solution I found was to make sure to get a heavy warm up before getting on the project and to train after working the project before a rest day.

Perhaps though, the biggest thing I’ve learned from the years on The Grandpa Project is that projects at your absolute maximum don’t come easy.  They’ll test everything you’ve got both physically and mentally, and the only way to succeed is to keep showing up.

To work his project, Dan trusts the SCARPA Instinct S slipper.

Dan Beall climbs at night.

Night climbing offers better friction. Photo: Andy Wickstrom

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