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Fear of pushing the limit.
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redlegrangerone


Jan 20, 2006, 2:12 PM
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Fear of pushing the limit.
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I reach a point on a route, where I am stuck. I can see the next hold, but it requires a jump or dyno to get to. How do I get over the fear and go for it? I usually just give up rather than try something I know is going to probably lead to a fall? Is this a normal part of learning?


chronicle


Jan 20, 2006, 2:17 PM
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Re: Fear of pushing the limit. [In reply to]
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Have you ever taken a leader fall? If not, then that would be a good way to overcome your fear. Are you confident that your gear will hold you? Your belayer? Until you have confidence in your gear, your placements, your belayer, it is hard to go for something like that.

My climbing partner told me, "If I feel like I can't make the next move, I just go for it. Either way I'm falling, might as well try the desperation move." Since then I've climbed much better.


alpine_monk


Jan 20, 2006, 2:25 PM
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Re: Fear of pushing the limit. [In reply to]
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I reach a point on a route, where I am stuck. I can see the next hold, but it requires a jump or dyno to get to. How do I get over the fear and go for it?
learn to climb staticly.


arrow


Jan 20, 2006, 2:34 PM
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Re: Fear of pushing the limit. [In reply to]
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This is an old zulu warrior adage
"If I go forward I die
If I go backward I die
Better to go forward and die"

Hope that helps.....just don't die!


jsj42


Jan 20, 2006, 2:53 PM
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I can see the next hold, but it requires a jump or dyno to get to. How do I get over the fear and go for it?

So you know what you have to do but are afraid to do it?

In reply to:
I usually just give up rather than try something I know is going to probably lead to a fall? Is this a normal part of learning?

No, this is typical of failing, not learning. I recommend one of three things:

1) Assuming the fall is safe, You TRY and stop looking for some easy way out.
2) You stop doing climbs that push your limits
3) You consider a different activity that doesn't challenge you in this way

Climbing is just like anything in life: You'll never know what you're capable of until you go for it and it's always hard to take that first step -- what separates those who are successful from those who are average is that the successful ones eventually just go for it. Obviously, weigh the risks (is the fall safe) and gather info (try taking practice falls), but the truth is either you want to do it or you don't. If you want it, then you will -- even though it may be scary or hard. If you don't want it, you'll save yourself a lot of agony by finding something else to invest yourself in.


glyrocks


Jan 20, 2006, 3:07 PM
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My climbing partner told me, "If I feel like I can't make the next move, I just go for it. Either way I'm falling, might as well try the desperation move."

Unless, of course, you learn to downclimb.


But yea, learn to trust your gear, your partner, and your own abilities, and learn how to fall. I back off of moves all the freaking time that I know I can do because I've done much harder moves. But, that's because a series of falls, 'accidents,' and bad decisions has blown my confidence (and my ankles). Unless you know a fall won't be a big deal (and you've got the experience and know-how to make that evaluation) don't just go for it blindly. Bulid up your confidence through time and experience so you when you get to a big move, you do know you can do it.

If you've been clmibing for a while and you just suck at dynamic moves, then, yea, make sure your fall will be safe and then forget about falling and just go for it. Eventually you'll get better and start sticking the moves.


fracture


Jan 20, 2006, 3:30 PM
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Yeah, it's normal. Progressive desensitization is how to get over it.

And it is definitely important to get over it: climbing too statically, as one poster suggested (hopefully in jest) will severely limit you.

Another thing you should try to get rid of is the mentality where you "know" you can't do a move, so you don't try. I think you'll be suprised how often you'll hit a move that feels really improbable, if you are willing to go for it.


arnoilgner


Jan 24, 2006, 12:43 PM
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Hello redlegrangerone,

What you describe is the most difficult aspect of mental training to overcome. We all get that thought of not being able to do that next move. To grow in your mental fitness you need to figure out how to make that next move anyway. I teach my students [on well protected trad/sport]:
Don't decide to fall; let your body decide. In other words, you WILL get thoughts about not being able to make that next move. Let those thoughts go and make the move. See what happens. Sometimes you'll make it and sometimes you'll fall. Either way, you'll learn what is possible. Your body can take you there; your mind cannot.
arno


cintune


Jan 24, 2006, 2:22 PM
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You could also work on the same move only closer to the ground, ie, find a boulder problem with the same pitch and throw, then just work the move and keep landing on your back until you get used to it. Then, on rope, it'll be a familiar move you won't stop and think about so much. Jez du it.


gochubug


Jan 24, 2006, 2:58 PM
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Work on weaknesses, intimidating moves, etc. on TR until you gain some confidence, then you'll feel more ready to do them on lead.

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." -- Eleanor Roosevelt


kricir


Jan 24, 2006, 3:05 PM
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Fear is a product of the mind, and the mind has control over it. To push your limits, you must be comfortable with being afraid. Don’t expect to “get over” or lose your fear. On a route that's hard for you, especially if there's the possibility of a big whipper, It will always be there. The best climbers are the ones who climb right up to fear, great it, and keep going. Fear is a part of climbing, to continue, you must except it. There aren't any tricks, just suck it up and go.


fracture


Jan 24, 2006, 5:26 PM
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Don’t expect to “get over” or lose your fear. On a route that's hard for you, especially if there's the possibility of a big whipper, It will always be there.

No way. Getting over the fear of a simple lead fall when you are about to go for a dynamic move is both possible and essenential for hard sport climbing. If you are climbing scared, you are unlikely to climb your best, and making committing or dynamic moves will be excessively difficult.


cintune


Jan 24, 2006, 6:50 PM
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Isn't getting over fear about the same thing as being comfortable with being afraid? Fear is a chemical buzz that's supposed to give you the optimal state of tunnel vision and explosive energy that you need. The problem comes when you stop to think about yourself and lose that "GO" moment of movement/focus.


kricir


Jan 24, 2006, 7:27 PM
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Yeah, I agree, I guess my point was that you will always be a little afraid, or at least should be. Sport climbing is different, after a wile they feel like falls in a gym, but when you are pushing your self into scary things for the first time, (toprope to lead, indoors to outdoors) Its going to be really scary.


rufusandcompany


Jan 24, 2006, 8:10 PM
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I reach a point on a route, where I am stuck. I can see the next hold, but it requires a jump or dyno to get to. How do I get over the fear and go for it? I usually just give up rather than try something I know is going to probably lead to a fall? Is this a normal part of learning?

Here is advice from one who started this sport with severe acrophobia.

First, you need to be painfully honest with yourself by asking this question every time you are in that situation: How badly do I want it? Nothing less than an absolute desire to pull through those moves is going to get you to address that fear - not pep talks, psychology, peer pressure, etc.

My suggestion is that you sit alone with this and really think about how important succeeding is to you. If the answer is that overcoming this fear is that important to you, then remember this next time you are in a position in which the fall is not dangerous. When the fear confronts you, don't run away from it or quit. Stay right where you are, regardless of how strenuous the stance, and stay with the fear. If you stay there long enough, you will suddenly realize that it is all in your head. At that point, remind yourself of how good it will feel to climb over your fear and reach the anchors. Trust me, the feeling of breaking through that obstacle will stay with you for a long time, if not for the rest of your life. I remember my breakthrough like it was yesterday, and every time I free solo.

I had just started climbing and had completely frustrated my best friend, who was teaching me. We tried to rope up several times, with no success. He would lead the first pitch. When it was time to follow, I would climb up about ten feet or so and freeze like a block of ice. He would try to talk me through it, but it was pointless. I was not moving, and he would have to lower me and bail on the route.

After three fruitless trips from Boston to North Conway N.H., he politely told me that I needed to go deal with my fear. I didn't blame him, but the frustration of knowing that my head wouldn't allow me to tap into this amazing sport was not acceptable.

I lived in Boston at the time, and I decided to go to Hammond Pond - a local area with a thirty-foot high top-roping wall. There were always people there with ropes up, so I asked if I could tie into theirs. The same thing happened several more times. I would climb up a few feet and freeze.

Frustrated, humiliated, and embarrassed, I was on the verge of quitting altogether, when something happened. A local showed up at the wall with only chalkbag and shoes in hand, laced up, and soloed every route on the wall. I watched in amazement and thought "This is the coolest thing I've every seen." My next thought was that my psychological fear was going to keep me from ever experiencing something so amazing. I decided right there that I would conquer the fear or go down trying.

Over the following week, I went there everyday and watched people climb those routes. I brought my gear but did not climb. People looked oddly at me, but I did not care. I was determined to keep showing up until my desire forced me onto the wall.

I showed up early on the following Saturday and no one was there. Something told me to put on my shoes and just traverse the bottom of the wall. I did that a few times and finally told myself that I could easily climb this wall if my head would let me. Remembering Tom's ropeless laps, I walked over to the far right side of the wall, where there was an easy thirty-foot high 5.5 crack with large face holds for feet. The wall had a large horizontal crack running through it at about twelve to fifteen feet high.

Before I could think about it, I had climbed to the point that my feet were on that horizontal crack. Within seconds of looking down and realizing where I was, the grip of fear overcame me to the extent that I almost vomited. My head was spinning, and I thought I was going to fall.

Struggling to get my head together, I finally realized that I was going to fall if I didn't calm down, so I closed my eyes and took deep breaths. When I stopped shaking, the next task was trying to decide whether to down-climb or climb that last fifteen feet to the top. Both options scared the crap out of me, but I had to get down one way or the other, and jumping was out of the question. My head was six feet above my feet, and twenty-one feet looked like a mile up to me.

I had finally reached the moment of truth. Here I was, in the same predicament that I'd been in all those times on a rope, but I could not bail. l had gotten myself into a situation that was forcing me to confront my fear. After about ten more minutes, I decided that I could not down-climb, and I started inching my way up the wall. I grabbed every hold as if it were my last breath. What seemed like hours was over in a few minutes, and I was standing on top of the wall.

My first thought was that I would never climb again, but then, all of the sudden, it hit me that I had not only finally finished a climb, but that I did it without a rope. The excitement was so intense that I ran back to the base of the route and soloed it a dozen more times that day. From that moment on, I never again roped up on any route on that wall, and my fear of heights was gone.

It has been almost thirty years since that day, and I have since free soloed routes hundreds of feet above the ground, but that day will always be considered my proudest moment in climbing.

If you really want to pursue this sport to the fullest, your heart, mind, and soul need to be there one hundred percent. This means that your first step toward success will be to find out how badly you want it.

Good luck,

KC


annak


Jan 24, 2006, 8:14 PM
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I found the following advice that Arno gave me on another occasion to be very useful -- he said "If you get doubts then do your best to witness them, let them go and stay with your intent". So now, while getting ready for a climb, I am telling to myself "expect doubts". And then -- when I know that I will have doubts, it is much easier for me to let them go and follow the intent to climb till you either finish the climb or fall. Sometimes it works, but of course sometimes I fail to follow the intent and do all kind of non-warrior stuff -- like grabbing a draw, hanging, deciding to fall rather than making an awkward move and fall while doing it, etc.

After a climb, I always analyze my mental performance during the climb, focusing on two aspects:
1. if I climbed despite doubts and completed the climb/or fell -- I am telling to myself how great it was to try the move and that it worked, or, if I fell, that it was not as big of a deal as the anticipation of the fall, and then I am using these memories in preparation to other climbs -- "Anna -- remember it felt desperate and insecure, but you did not fell." Or "remember -- you took five falls with your feet above the bolt on that climb, and no one died or even get scratched".
2. if I was grabbing draws to avoid safe falls (or the like), analyzing this with my feet on the ground and looking at the possible falls makes it easy to see that I was acting under phantom fear. So I am remembering these moments as well, and then telling to myself on other climbs: "It feels scary now, but this is only because I am on the wall and in awkward position -- did not I see from the ground that the fall here isn't dangerous -- this is exactly what happened on the other climb".


redlegrangerone


Jan 25, 2006, 3:29 PM
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Cool story KC. I appreciate the comments on this. I took three falls this week. That is three more than before, so I am on my way.


rufusandcompany


Jan 25, 2006, 4:25 PM
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In reply to:
Cool story KC. I appreciate the comments on this. I took three falls this week. That is three more than before, so I am on my way.

Nicely done. Stay with it, and falling will eventually become as comfortable as the climbing, although you always need to know when it is not okay to fall.

Cheers,

KC


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