• Jeffrey Shor

Practical Projecting Tips | The New River Gorge Weekend Warrior

Updated: 14 hours ago

By: Kristi Buckley


Kristi Buckley on a Slash and Burn  (5.12d) crux move at Kaymoor in the New River Gorge.
Kristi Buckley on a Slash and Burn (5.12d) crux move at Kaymoor in the New River Gorge. | Photo Credit: Jeff Shor

Last year I decided to set a big goal for myself: send “Slash and Burn,” a 5.12d at Kaymoor, in the New River Gorge.

If I had to describe the New River Gorge stylistically with one route--it would be this one. It’s sustained, technical, and features a series of long reaches between small holds.

I spent two full seasons projecting this route, making it the longest I had ever spent on a project before.

Not only was this line beautiful and challenging, but, it was the first of the grade for me, making it an extra proud send. ☺️

I’ve been living in the New River Gorge for a little over 6 years now, and I spend a good majority of the year here just projecting.

Of course, it’s always fun to go out with friends and climb some familiar, easy pitches, but for me--projecting is where all the fun is!

I love the challenges that it provides and the continuous opportunities for growth and learning. Not only that but it is SUCH A VULNERABLE process in which you are able to learn more and more about yourself and your climbing as time goes on.

Despite the fact that I live in the New River Gorge, I’d say that my situation is still quite similar to that of a “weekend warrior.” The only difference being that my “weekend” falls during the weekdays when everyone else is at work.

I work as a remote climbing coach, which allows me to work with athletes from all over the country, but most of which primarily climb outdoors on the weekends. In short, a lot of what I do is help those with limited time and/or resources, dial in their training and tactics so that they can send their projects on the weekends!

A lot of climbers really enjoy projecting; it is an opportunity for us to really watch the impossible go from probable and then magically POSSIBLE over a few short weeks, months, or years. However, some climbers absolutely dread the idea of going back to the same climb again and again.

Whether you love or hate projecting, here are some practical projecting tips that you can use when it comes to projecting outdoors!


Climber: Jack Rodenas | Photo Credit: Jeff Shor


When we think about the ways we can set ourselves up for success on a project, one of the first things we think about is training.

“Gotta start training for the project!”

Of course, this is important, but there is a lot that goes into preparing for a weekend out on a project that we often overlook or neglect--like just picking the project in the first place!

How you go about choosing a project is up to you, but here are a few tips that I may give athletes when it comes to picking out a project for the weekend:

Tip #1: Decide whether it’ll be a short-term or a long-term project.

A short-term project might be something you’ll finish in a weekend or two, whereas a long-term project will require multiple weekend trips, and maybe even months' worth of effort. So it can be helpful to decide ahead of time just how invested you are.

Personally, I find that short-term projects can provide more of an immediate reward but the payoff of a long-term project is worth all the frustration and extra time.

If you know that you’re not going to be able to get back to the crag for a few months, or even a year, it may be in your best interest to choose a short-term project. Perhaps something that is a bit closer to your current redpoint limit.

Tip #2: Choose something that excites you and challenges you!

Don’t just pick something because “it’s what your friends are working on”--choose something that authentically excites you that you are going to be willing to TRY HARD on.

Of course, it helps if you have friends who are also working on it. 😉

Also keep in mind that the bigger the challenge, the more effort you are likely to put into it.

Tip #3: Choose something that is accessible.

I’m all about shooting for the stars & setting the bar high, but we also have to be reasonable with ourselves. Choosing a route or boulder that is accessible to you will help you to set yourself up for success.

Here is what I mean by accessible:

  • It’s approachable

  • It’s relatively easy to get to and come back to if needed

  • It’s a route or boulder you can easily find a supportive partner for

  • The climbing conditions make sense for when you’d like to try it

Of course not every route or boulder problem is going to meet all of these requirements AND be something we are excited about, and that’s perfectly okay. Sometimes we have to be willing to make compromises or go with our plan B, but ultimately it helps to keep these things in mind.

Tip #4: Do your research.

Gather as much information as you can ahead of time!

This could look like watching beta videos, asking friends for beta or insight, or even just reading the guidebook or mountain project description and trying to wrap your head around what is in store.

Figure out when would be the best time for you to go there given the weather conditions. What time does the route go into the shade? Be thorough in your investigation.