Forums: Climbing Information: Technique & Training: Creating Your Own Reality: Edit Log


May 9, 2012, 9:16 AM

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Registered: Apr 14, 2003
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Creating Your Own Reality
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In another thread, a talented and experienced climber made the comment that a certain cliff was "too hardcore" for them. This got me thinking...

If you have a mindset that a cliff, route, or problem is "too hard/hardcore/difficult" then you are absolutely right. You have created that reality for yourself. If, however, you allow yourself to believe that it is in the realm of possibility, then you have created a mindset which opens the door to success.

When I was younger, I was deathly afraid of heights. In my mid teens I became enamored of climbing, and my personal fears routinely kept me from advancing technically because I was paralyzed at the thought of being more than 25 feet off the deck.

About this same time, I got my hands on a copy of National Geographic with an article about the first clean ascent of the Regular Route on Half Dome. I can still remember the gut wrenching fear that came when I saw the pictures of the climbers seconding the Zig-Zag pitches with all of that exposure beneath them. It literally made me sick to my stomach.

The following year in college, I made a last ditch effort to overcome my fears by sending away for a cassette tape called "Fear of Heights." I played it every night as I went to sleep, and it walked me through powerful visualizations that created associations with heights and my own personal comfort zone. I also returned time and again to the National Geo article, and forced myself to look at the pictures, reminding myself that the climbers were experienced, tied in, and in control.

The following year in the Valley, I found a British partner who I did a series of warm-up climbs with, including the East Butt of El Cap and the NE Butt of Higher Cathedral Rock. The last climb of the trip was the Regular Route on Half Dome, and we opted to take our time and enjoy the climb.

The wall gear, including my home made haul bag. Note the 4" wide swami belt in the lower left corner which was my wall harness and yes, thats an old SMC "Square 8" which I used the small end of for a belay plate. Nigel brought a sleeping bag; I slept in a pile jacket with a space blanket inside the emptied haul bag.

Seconding the second pitch.

Nigel Cleaver on the 5.8 chimney.

We spent two nights on the wall, on Long Ledge atop pitch 6, and on Big Sandy atop pitch 17 and directly below the Zig Zags.

Nigel on the impeccable 5.8 double cracks below Big Sandy.

Nigel, calm and composed on Big Sandy.

I lead the Zig Zag pitch myself early on the third morning, and my mental preparedness paid off as I felt calm and determined. I followed Thank God Ledge crawling like a reptile with both hands and one leg on the ledge, then lead the A3 pitch that was the last obstacle to the summit. We topped out around 3 pm and were met by some friends who had hiked up and greeted us with some warm beer and a handshake. It was the day of my 21st birthday.

Nigel leads the first pitch off of Big Sandy; This was his first aid lead ever and a good one because I could talk him through all the necessary techniques. I combined the next two Zig Zag pitches to a hanging belay at the right end of Thank God Ledge. Note the EBs and hand tied aiders.

Me leading the A3 pitch (it only felt A1ish) just below the summit.

Visualization is a powerful tool, and I would have long since given up climbing in personal disgust if I had never learned that I alone am responsible for my perceptions of what is or isn't possible. Today, when I am preparing for a climb, I will often study the moves from below and mime them out with hands and feet moving. There can be no space for self doubt or negative thoughts, only success. I find this tremendously helpful and as a result, my sends are much more fluid and successful.

Of course, there are climbs that for one reason or another just plain shut me down. The challenge is to walk away with learned beta and a clear mental image of how best to approach them in the future. If I truly believe that I will send, then more times than not, I will.

(As an aside, my old college roomate who was forced to listen to my self hypnosis tape also has no fear of heights.)


(This post was edited by edge on May 9, 2012, 9:31 AM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by edge () on May 9, 2012, 9:26 AM
Post edited by edge () on May 9, 2012, 9:30 AM
Post edited by edge () on May 9, 2012, 9:31 AM

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