We make a foundational decision to climb because climbing gives us something we can’t fully explain. This decision determines why we climb, even though we cannot answer it specifically. Now, as we go deeper into climbing itself, we make primary decisions about what we climb. If we didn’t make the foundational decision well, then we’ll make poor primary decisions about what we climb.
A primary decision is a choice we make to accomplish a major goal for its own sake. That goal may be a mixed ascent of the Nose of El Cap, Everest without supplemental oxygen, or a redpoint ascent of The Prow on Cathedral Ledge, New Hampshire. These are not ascents you do as steppingstones to other goals. Rather, you decide to climb the route as an end in itself.
Primary decisions address macro goals that are clearly defined, such as a redpoint ascent of The Prow. You decide to redpoint the route, not on-sight it or climb it in a mixed aid/free fashion. This distinction, that you’ll redpoint the route, creates a clear image of the outcome and also determines how you’ll make secondary decisions. Since you’re going to redpoint it, your initial efforts on the route allow you to freely hang on protection to figure out sequences, rests, falls, and protection possibilities. This is a very different set of actions than if you decided to on-sight the route or climb it in a mixed aid/free fashion.