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My experiences with the RWW (long).
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Nov 16, 2005, 2:58 AM
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Registered: Nov 3, 2005
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My experiences with the RWW (long).
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Forgive the personal ramblings...

I've been climbing trad for several years, and done a fair bit in that time. I've often tried to push myself - to do what I'm physically capable of, and to be able to tackle some very inspiring climbs - but have almost always been severely hampered by a lack of confidence, motivation, and determination (actually part of general psychological problems I have that affect my life in general but obviously the intensity of climbing draws these issues out).

Occasionally I've managed to push past (or nimbly avoid) this mental block, and climb in a clearer state of mind, and have experiences to relish, by specific training, or trying new areas, or new aspects of climbing.

But more often any attempt to do so have been shut down - this was the case last year during which I had a period of very low confidence after witnessing a traumatic accident. I was recommended the RWW book by a couple of people (who were probably bored of my moaning about mental blocks ;)). Initially I was skeptical because I've read a few training books and mental training articles, and most of them aren't written for people with confidence problems - they tend to assume a much clearer mindstate to work on.

Then I started reading the book...

Without trying to sound like a "Look what our customers said about us" article, I was impressed and interested straight away. Pretty much from the start of RWW, it was dealing with the real difficulties in climbing - confidence, the journey, fear of falling, engaging with the purity of climbing, the fundamentalness of the climber's mindstate. At last - something that tackled the issues that really matter, issues that many people take for granted or aren't even aware of. I thought "Shit, this is talking about MY problems". That in itself gave me some confidence.

I don't, of course, agree with everything in the book, and I personally think of climbs in terms of the experience rather than the learning (although clearly the latter follows the former). But in general I found a lot of it made sense and was very applicable. Indeed, a lot of the concepts were ones I'd tried to apply to my climbing in my own way, but never seen them explained clearly or written down so firmly. That aspect was useful - clarifying ideas that had been fermenting in my own mind, and thinking they are worth sticking with.

After reading it, the aspect that was the most prominent straight away was the falling practice. Something I'd been umming and ahhing about for a while, but never been determined enough to try. Again, having it clarified in RWW gave me the inspiration to try it. So for a few sessions down the wall, I started dropping off onto the last bolt of some routes, instead of clipping the lower-off. It certainly took some getting used to, but it became easier with practice.

The next time I went out climbing, after a summer/autumn of very poor climbing and a winter of no trad leading at all, I climbed two reasonably challenging (not at my limit but certainly challenging enough to really test my confidence), and was able, en-route, to look at the possible fall potential, and feel some familiarity with it. Thinking about the falls made me a bit nervous, but it wasn't overwhelming, and I felt I could fall if that was what happened. It didn't and I had two very nice experiences.

Soon after I went on a long sport climbing trip, and although I wasn't so focused on RWW principles, I still felt a bit more confidence and a bit more ability to deal with possible falls and possible failure (although one brilliant route where I jumped and missed a hidden jug by an inch had me almost sobbing....sobeit!).

Unfortunately since then I broke my foot (not climbing) and had a whole summer off climbing - YUK (yup the first thing I read was the passage about spraining an ankle due to a sports game...).

Now I'm back climbing again, and am re-reading RWW. And hoping to gain more insights from this forum too :wink:


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