Projecting a Climb: Sage advice from Chicks alumna Anne Hughes

Part 1: Projecting a climb

Anne Hughes is a long-time veteran of Chicks Climbing (first clinic was in 2002), and many women who have been to a clinic have met her. She has been a participant in a total of 13 clinics in the past nine years and has served as the Base Camp Manager for the Chicks Rock! programs in both Devil’s Lake and Red Rocks. Her backyard crag is Devil’s Lake, where she climbs on a regular basis and just recently sent a 5.11d project she’d been working on for months.

Sarah Goldman ever so graciously conducted this interview with Anne – a very long distance interview from Northern Iraq in fact, proving that the Chicks community is literally only a click away no matter where you are! Sarah is another Chicks veteran (three times over), who is starting an adventure of a lifetime as she begins a trek throughout North America to climb. Keep up with Sarah’s new life here.

Anne, we know you are a longtime friend of Chicks Climbing, please tell us about your connection to the program.
I started at Chicks with Picks in 2002 and have gone for one or two sessions per season ever since.  Last year I was base camp manager for Chicks Rock’s inaugural workshops at Devil’s Lake and at Red Rocks.

So, how long have you been climbing rock and ice?
Rock: 13 years. Ice: 8 years.

Damn, that’s a long time, good on ya. You recently celebrated your 56th birthday, and as with other birthdays you completed a self-imposed birthday challenge.  First off, what is a “birthday challenge?”
A birthday challenge is an event that is, as the name says, “challenging”, usually involving your sport, but may also include eating and drinking challenges.  On my 55th birthday I climbed Gils Cheek, climb number 55 in the Devils Lake Climbing Guide. After that joyous ascent, I did all sorts of things including 55 burpees, 55 pull ups, a 5.5 min plank hold, climbed 5 boulder problems and 5 roped routes in the gym, traversed for 5.5 min, ate 55 M&Ms, drank 55 cc of gin among a gaggle of friends, etc. If you’ve never done a birthday challenge, I highly recommend it!

Wow, that sounds great and TOUGH, I’m thankful it’s only my 31st birthday coming up!  What did you do for 56?
I wanted to send Flatus Triple Direct (5.11d) on top rope.  I’ve worked this Devil’s Lake classic off and on for years and seriously last fall and this spring.  I’ll bet I’ve made 35-40 stabs at FlatusTD through the years. I worked it obsessively this season. I could climb it in my mind several times a day and I was physically on it once or twice a week May through June. Then, joy of joys, I sent it clean a week before my birthday!

Any advice for Chicks on projecting a climb?
Pick an aesthetic climb that intrigues you, that is just out of reach as far as the ratings go, and that is in your neighborhood, because it is going to take a lot of practice.  Find some partners who can work it with you or would like to work a nearby project perhaps of a different rating not far from your own project.

What about breaking it down even further – any specific advice for the head game so many climbers face while projecting tough routes?
Get to work!  Climb your project regularly and with different people so you can glean different ideas that may help you.  Don’t be discouraged.  Skip the crux when you can’t do it and work other sections — batman up, lower down from the top, or climb an easier route beside yours to bypass the area that has you stymied.  Work the climb in overlapping sections once the pieces begin to fall into place.  Memorize the sequence exactly.  Visualize it at the speed you normally climb in as much detail as you can conjure up, including sights, sounds, smells.  Remain positive and present in the moment as you climb.  Avoid the distraction of worrying about getting to the top or the crux a ways ahead.

Part two of Sarah’s interview with Anne will be published later this week. In part two, Anne discusses her physical and mental training, as well as how she pays it forward, mentoring other women in the climbing world.

2 replies

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] in which she talked about working a project, and how she trains her mind and body for climbing. In part 1, Anne talks about her recent top-rope send of a 5.11d she’d been working for a couple of months, […]

  2. […] Gossip Column « Projecting a Climb: Sage advice from Chicks alumna Anne Hughes […]

Comments are closed.