Forums: Climbing Information: Technique & Training: Re: [jape] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy?: Edit Log


Jun 15, 2011, 11:52 AM

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Re: [jape] ON-SIGHTING: Mental Strategy?
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'Onsight' is quite different a mode to be in than if you are falling thirty times on the last move. I had an FA where I fell twenty-four times on the last move (a wide, overhanging pinch to finish a roof) and finally had to spend about five hours at home basically 'meditating' visualizing that move and then went out and stuck it. The actual climbing was as 'mindless' as possible as I had wired the sequence down to the grains-of-sand level in my head before leaving the house.

Definitely it's a 'to each his own' sort of deal, but with regard to falls: perceiving, gauging, and assessing the risk associated with them for me is part of the movement and in no way a discrete, foreground mental activity. This is where other posters have mentioned 'automation' and the experience / 'flow' derived from getting in significant yardage.

Overall [mindless] 'flow' is what you're aiming for with all other concerns - solving the moves, route finding, looking ahead for and placing gear, gauging falls, etc. - becoming well-integrated, continuous tasks running as quietly as possible in the background. Getting there requires lots of time on stone and yardage under your belt.

If you haven't experienced that 'flow' much then I'd recommend picking out a small sequence of routes you love the movement on that are at or slightly above your limit (say three of them) and simply climb that sequence in the same order again and again until you have each climb so ruthlessly wired you can do them all but blind folded at slightly above your resting heart rate. Really dial them down so there is no superfluous or wasted movement.

Once you know what that feels like, the challenge then is to be able to get to that same place and maintain it on moves and routes you've never seen before. That's a wide gap, if not a gulf, I know - but it's the objective in the long run, particularly in trad climbing where if you don't have all the 'logistics' smoothly integrated with your movement you will have a hard time staying in the moment as you will always be getting jerked out of it to deal with some 'issue' (usually mental, but emotional concerns can rise up and swamp you during a [logistical] pause).

Last, there is no hanging on the rope during an onsight and many hard FAs have sequences where neither falling or resting on the rope is an option. That really isn't a reality most folks can suddenly confront out of the blue and deal well with - it takes some 'practice' to come to terms with. This is where my comments pointing out that onsighting and 'working' routes with sport tactics are essentially mental / emotional opposites are coming from. I'm not saying 'sport' is bad, but rather if 99% of your experience in 'figuring out' routes is by hanging at the end of the rope then you'll be ill-equipped to deal with the challenges associated with climbing at or past your limit onsighting or if you find yourself in a situation where hanging on the rope isn't an option.

You also won't develop an emphasis on finding and milking rests, and believe me, there are routes out there where getting up them is less a matter of being able to do the moves than being able to stick the rests. So what I'm suggesting is if 'onsighting' or FAs is what gets you off you should spend at least some of your time not hanging on the rope - instead come back down and try the sequence again from the ground, belay, or last full rest - give it another go 'on the fly' to learn to think and problem solve while actually climbing in a continuous stream of movement.

Oh, and practicing downclimbing can also be highly rewarding.

(This post was edited by healyje on Jun 15, 2011, 2:14 PM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by healyje () on Jun 15, 2011, 11:55 AM
Post edited by healyje () on Jun 15, 2011, 11:57 AM
Post edited by healyje () on Jun 15, 2011, 12:38 PM
Post edited by healyje () on Jun 15, 2011, 2:14 PM

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