Many of you have seen the video of Daniel Woods sending the infamous "Bubble Wrap" project at CATS in Boulder, Colorado. If you haven't, you should. (I'll include it at the bottom of this post.) But prepare yourself; this isn't the typical bouldering video.
Yes, I'm suggesting you watch a video of someone sending their indoor project. I'm also suggesting that you'll enjoy it.
My favorite training walls are small walls that are packed full of holds and rarely, if ever, are re-set.
Because we want long-term indoor projects. Problems that we can work on season after season, year after year.
You can do all the tracking of your workouts and writing training journals that you want to, but there is no better gauge of progress than being able to easily do something that a few years ago you couldn't touch.
CATS is an anomaly. Most commercial climbing spaces can't afford to leave their problems up for more than a few weeks without changing them, so to leave them up indefinitely is absolutely out of the question. As far as training goes, this is one of the many limiting factors that commercial gyms are constrained by. It leads to a difficult-to-break cycle of projecting a certain problem for a week, then getting distracted by the new problems of the same difficulty next week, and so on, ad nauseam. In this setting, many "breakthroughs" are simply a send of an overgraded problem that, in reality, is the same difficulty as last month's project. That type of easy "progress" leads to bad habits and complacency, and even worse, it leads to complaining that problems are sandbagged when someone can't send everything of that difficulty, as if they are an expert now that they've done one.
You've seen it. You may have even done it.
With a problem that never changes you get several benefits: not only can you use it as a more accurate gauge of progress, but you can, over time, refine the climbing in a way that you can't come close to in a typical four week gym rotation. You can distill the problem down to its essential body positions. You have all the time you need to make absolutely miniscule adjustments to fine tune the economy of movement.
In short, you get to perfect something that was once impossible.
This is the importance of "The Bubble Wrap Project." All of the best climbers in Boulder had tried it. For years. Five years, actually.
I know you've seen the send video, but did you know there was a video made two years earlier, of Daniel and Carlo Traversi projecting the problem? I was unaware, until I was snooping around on James O'Connor's Vimeo page filled with CAT's problems.
In my opinion, you shouldn't watch one without the other. Why?
The process is too important.
The videos aren't perfect edits that were intended to show the process or the tactics of working a problem, and while it may seem boring to watch, imagine yourself in that position. For me, it's interesting to watch two of America's strongest boulderers throwing themselves at a problem two years before the send. Something akin to watching a skate session with Tony Hawk and Mike McGill where they didn't land a single trick but tried for hours to do new ones. It's boring if you're hoping for excitement. Learning isn't exciting to watch, unless you're a cognitive neuroscientist. However, if you watch closely, you get to see the process - starting from when it looked impossible. They learn the movement, the momentum, the body positions, and the belief that eventually makes what some have called "the hardest boulder problem in Colorado" possible.
Working the Problem: