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saxfiend


Mar 9, 2006, 10:11 AM
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Runout Leading
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I'm curious if there's a difference in the mental ways you approach leading a runout climb vs. a better-protected one. Things like evaluating fall consequences, maintaining concentration, etc.

I had my first experiences with long runouts this past weekend at Stone Mountain (NC). I was leading a pitch that had one bolt halfway through the pitch (about 75 ft above the belay). Of course, it was 5.5 slab, so the actual climbing was not that hard. But a fall would still not have been a laughing matter! Before I started up the pitch, I looked up at that faraway bolt and felt some butterflies, but once I got started, I felt very focused on the task at hand and had no further anxiety.

An earlier climb had a kind of scary moment. This route (5.7) had good pro down low, but the upper section was runout. I was about 25-30 feet above my last piece when I felt both feet slip at once -- aggghh! But I managed to avoid making any panic moves (or even scream, haha!), my feet caught, I settled myself for a moment or two (and several deep breaths) then kept going.

Overall, I felt a confidence boost from the weekend's climbing and am ready to try something more challenging next time. But I'd be interested in hearing anyone's comments on how you'd mentally prepare yourself for something truly hairy and runout.

JL


healyje


Mar 9, 2006, 10:20 AM
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This will be interesting...

[note: My comments would be exactly the same as in this post in the "Falling" thread.

EDITED TO FIX LINK...


bluering


Mar 9, 2006, 10:23 AM
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Sounds like you already have the hang of it. I've done some runouts in j-tree and I just focus on sticking to the rock and making every move . You have to 'just do it' and put the distance from the last bolt (piece) in the back of you mind. I just keep focusing on how close I am to the next bolt. Of course, it's probably better to start on easier runouts just to get your head trained.


Partner holdplease2


Mar 9, 2006, 10:56 AM
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Well, I'm no free climbing master, but I've done it for awhile. And aid climbing can be alot like runout free climbing, as you can go a long long way above your last fall-holding gear and meet with some serious consequences.

So here's my opinion, fwiw:

Mental Practice: Something that I've done to help understand what goes on in my head and with my climbing on runout sections is to follow a leaders a little differently.

When seconding on easy ground that would otherwise not be a problem, I ask the leader to give me a little more slack than usual (up to 10 feet) and be sure that the anchor is set-up accordingly. (IE, redirected thru a piece or two, and capable of handling a bit of a shock load...there is some additional risk here, so know that and plan accordingly, deciding if it is right for your team and the circumstances)

At this point, I climb imagnining that the rope isn't there or that the climb was runout without gear. This can feel pretty realiztic really quickly. Try it sometime.

Know Yourself: Through this practice and some experience I found that my climbing actually changes a bit...I get more tunnel vision, climb more conservatively, make smaller "moves", and my technique in general seems to regress a bit. This is because I am not great at runout climbing. Some folks actually climb better in this situation!


Know what You're Getting Into: When I've led very runout climbs, I usually know what I'm getting into on the ground. I ask myself if I am willing to face the consequences of what could be the equivalent of a free solo accident and I don't delude myself about the possible consequences of falling on a poorly protected route.


Be Realistic: Looking at your situation realistically is key to not having big regrets later. Know what you are getting into. Get to know your climbing head and climbing style, and how to control detrimental changes to both that happen when you realize that the consequences of a mistake could be huge.

At the end of the day, the consequences of climbing can be serious. Even more so in the case of super runout stuff. Know yourself and know what you are getting into.

Hope this helps,

-Kate.


boardline22


Mar 9, 2006, 11:36 AM
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good thread


iamthewallress


Mar 9, 2006, 12:00 PM
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If I'm in a high consequences zone, I try to follow the "rule of inviolability". If the next move is not inviolable, I try to figure out how to make it be so. If I can't make it be so, I generally back off.

Some people get a charge out of it, but I feel more irresponsible than brave on the occasions that I've been run out and felt like I was doing a move where I felt like there was a real possibility that I would fall.

It's good to learn how to back off so that if and when doing so is the most sensable option, you'll know how to handle it.

Consider what backups you have with your body's connection to the rock. As you move onto a hand jam, hang onto the previous one until you feel yourself securely on the next one. Don't let go of the previous jug until you're squarely on that rest foot hold. Etc. The option isn't always there, but your margin of safety may improve if you take advantage of your 'internal backups' when you can.

Don't allow yourself to be so distracted by the run-out that you loose focus on the climbing. An overwhelming amount of fear is a very prudent reason, IMO, to back off.


maldaly


Mar 9, 2006, 12:02 PM
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hp2 and wallress have it right. It's a head thing. I've done a lot of it and never really analysed it too much. I really didn't know how I did it until I read Arno Ilgner's book "The Warrior's Way" It's a terrific instruction manual for mental training for climbers. It's as important as any gear or instruction book I've ever read and should be on every climber's shelf.
Mal
http://www.warriorsway.com/


skateman


Mar 9, 2006, 12:12 PM
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Hi Sax,

Sometimes runout is a mental thing, sometimes it's physical!
Think consequences! I've taken 30 foot plus whippers & as long as the catch is soft, not too big of a deal. The same fall on a lower angle slab though would be derving of an "R" rating. Which I try to avoid as much as possible!

Stone Mountain is probally similiar to the slabs of White Horse in NH. My son has fallen on a steep slab- the end result was blisters on 8 fingertips!


Partner hosh


Mar 9, 2006, 12:40 PM
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personally, I've felt pretty comfortable on most of the routes that I've done that have runouts. I tend to be more focused when I know the situation is a little more "serious". I think knowing your abilities is key, as kate said.

hosh.


climbingaz


Mar 9, 2006, 12:56 PM
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Not that I have done a ton of it, but on the runouts I just keep thinking, "3 point of contact, 3 points of contact" slow, deliberate climbing.


crotch


Mar 9, 2006, 1:27 PM
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In reply to:
If I'm in a high consequences zone, I try to follow the "rule of inviolability". If the next move is not inviolable, I try to figure out how to make it be so.

Could you elobarate on the "rule of inviolability". I've never heard that term.


ridgeclimber


Mar 9, 2006, 1:45 PM
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It means don't screw up.


Partner holdplease2


Mar 9, 2006, 1:47 PM
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Oh yeah and...

Too many times I have seen people sketched and leading runout where the runout wasn't necessary. (Some run it out by choice, but that's different.)

1)Alternative Pro: Don't get brain-tunnel-vision and think every placement has to be a cam or a nut. Can you sling a horn or a shrub? Can you toss your rope over a (not sharp) flake to protect a move? Can you "lasso" a horn you can't quite reach from below when things get ugly? (Did this a few weeks ago)

2) Rack Right: You may have some "no fall" pro in your pack. Don't forget to dig out the micro nuts or similar items if you are leading a think climb. I have made this mistake many times (including last weekend).

3) Plan Ahead: Examine the climb...see the crux? If it only protects with a finger sized cam, be sure not to use your only finger-sized cams down low. ALso, remember the top of the climb is foreshortened. Like the chimney on orphan, its not 4 feet long, like it looks from the ground, its like 20 feet. Plan accordingly.

4) Know your Pro: We all know the placements that may or may not hold a fall...test dodgy placements on the ground before you need to trust them on the rock. Eliminate as much of the grey area as you can...you need to know what you are climbing above!

5) Yes, you can test: If you are making the decision to "climb on" based on whether or not a piece of pro is good, and you can't tell by looking or tugging...pop a couple of slings on that piece and give it a kick...does it hold? (Don't do this and destroy rock like soft sandstone, more like use a kick to see if a cam will bite or pop. Does this invalidate your "proud send?" who the hell knows, or cares at that point.)

6) Act like your life depends on it: If its one piece between you and the great beyond, consider using a locking biner on it. Poorly timed gate flutter or rope unclipping could do you in. Also, if you have a screamer, carry it for dodgy pro on a runout lead. Every little bit helps, right?

7) Regarding Wallress's rule of Involi...Involu....I can't spell it or say it: This is a good rule, and you can increase your ability to use it when you are climbing harder by actually practicing downclimbing. Downclimb at the gym. Downclimb your leads. Learn the movements and the limits of what is possible for you. Its a good rule, but nearly impossible to follow if you lead 5.10 but can barely downclimb 5.7.

As you can tell, I am kind of a puss about runout climbing. That's just me, more power to those of you who can be bold without worrying about all of this crap.

Anyway,

-Kate.


caughtinside


Mar 9, 2006, 2:16 PM
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In reply to:

3) Plan Ahead: Examine the climb...see the crux? If it only protects with a finger sized cam, be sure not to use your only finger-sized cams down low. ALso, remember the top of the climb is foreshortened. Like the chimney on orphan, its not 4 feet long, like it looks from the ground, its like 20 feet. Plan accordingly.

D'oh! But if you do that, Orphan is much less exciting!


scrappydoo


Mar 9, 2006, 2:22 PM
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In reply to:
Not that I have done a ton of it, but on the runouts I just keep thinking, "3 point of contact, 3 points of contact" slow, deliberate climbing.

Good advice.

I have found that my lead head has gotten much stronger in run-out situations from doing some free-soloing (at a significantly lower grade than I trad lead). Easy (for your level, whatever it is) free soloing makes you hyper-aware of your movements but, more importantly, teaches your brain to click-over from the traditional Trad mentality of constantly monitoring your fall/injury potential (looking back/down) to accepting the devastating consequences of a fall so that you get a better focus (looking forward).

What I'm trying to say, most simply, is that free soloing teaches you to calm your mind (after evaluating and accepting a fall's implications) and commit to the move/route with the faith and confidence you need to keep your head in the right place, which keeps you on the rock.

Free soloing isn't the only way to do this and I'm not trying to start another tired argument over free-soloing, but easier free-soloing has done my head and my climbing a lot of good.

-D


skinner


Mar 9, 2006, 2:49 PM
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In reply to:
7) Regarding Wallress's rule of Involi...Involu....I can't spell it or say it: This is a good rule, and you can increase your ability to use it when you are climbing harder by actually practicing downclimbing. Downclimb at the gym. Downclimb your leads. Learn the movements and the limits of what is possible for you. Its a good rule, but nearly impossible to follow if you lead 5.10 but can barely downclimb 5.7.

-Kate.

For me this is key. knowing I can reverse the moves takes care of the mental anxiety. The rock here generally sucks for pro so being run out is the name of the game much of the time.
One thing that I think has kept me alive is knowing when to say "screw it" because it just doesn't feel right today, it will still be here tomorrow.


rsmillbern


Mar 9, 2006, 3:08 PM
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I like the idea of keeping in mind if you can reverse a move (something I rarely do), but I can't see myself down-climbing much at Stone. I got a little off route and had to down climb there a short ways... did not like it

That said I love climbing at Stone, seems the high about the pro I get the less I think about it. It also helps that on a lot of climbs there is no question that you can't place anything, so you tend to not focus on looking and just move on.

scoTt


Partner angry


Mar 9, 2006, 4:12 PM
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I got in a situation over the weekend. I was 20 feet above and 20 feet right of my last gear. I would have swung into a dihedral had I fallen.

At that point, falling was not an option. I climbed the moves, couldn't reach and downclimbed. Over and over, lots of climbing up - lots of climbing down. I was doing moves that felt hard 11. I was totally sideways and extended. I finally found an easier and more controlled sequence, I felt confident that I could do the move (unprotected and sandy 10+, felt harder cause I was scared). So I did the move. Guess what, even if I could not have done it that time, I'd have been OK, cause I would have downclimbed again. Within the next 20 feet I got one other shady piece in. I finally hit a small pod, and I doubled the placement. I wanted to make certain that a fall past this point would not pull the trigger of the loaded gun I'd just gotten through.

So ya, what was the question again?


iamthewallress


Mar 9, 2006, 4:19 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
If I'm in a high consequences zone, I try to follow the "rule of inviolability". If the next move is not inviolable, I try to figure out how to make it be so.

Could you elobarate on the "rule of inviolability". I've never heard that term.

If it doesn't feel like a sure thing, I back off. It's not some widely known rule like "always check to see that your knot is tied." It's just my own little rule for keeping myself honest as to whether or not I need a rope, a spot, pro, or to start climbing down as a given risky situation might dictates.

For example, if I'm on solid hand jams and feeling strong, I feel like the probability of cartwheeling off the cliff is very low. If I'm on a slab that is very, very low angle and I'm careful to place my weight in best depressions and not on the wet moss, I feel solid. If the angle is steepening beyond the point where I feel completely solid and there are no positive hand holds or jams to catch myself on if I start to take a dive, then I back off. Some folks are willing to go for a long "clean" fall...but I'm not one of them.

I like run outs on occasion b/c I like feeling dialed, not because I like being a big risk taker. If I feel like the latter, I have most likely screwed up in the pursuit of the former.


saxfiend


Mar 9, 2006, 4:23 PM
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Thanks for the responses. Healeyje -- I liked your comments in the "falling" thread, and Arno's advice there was excellent as usual. (BTW, your link to that thread doesn't work. :) )

In reply to:
Looking at your situation realistically is key to not having big regrets later. Know what you are getting into. Get to know your climbing head and climbing style, and how to control detrimental changes to both that happen when you realize that the consequences of a mistake could be huge.
This is very good advice. Based on my experience so far, I think it takes time to develop a level head on lead. Having had this experience at Stone Mountain, I think I'll be more mentally prepared and less anxious next time.

One thing we did at Stone was a kind of rehearsal for harder stuff on lead. From the tree ledge, we set up a top rope for White Way Direct (5.9). This one has two bolts in about 100 feet, and the climbing is steeper and harder than the ones I led. Of course, climbing with no falls on toprope is not the same as doing it on lead, but we were able to get a feel for the technique and "climbing head" needed at that level.

Downclimbing is always something to consider, but as someone else said, it doesn't appear to be a good option at Stone Mountain. There was a guy on a route next to us who lost his nerve about 20 feet above his last bolt. He was able to make it back down to the bolt, but it was a slow and painstaking process that was obviously not pleasant.

So I think knowing my limits (physical and mental) and not climbing beyond them when the fall consequences are bad is key for me.

JL


iamthewallress


Mar 9, 2006, 4:28 PM
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In reply to:
Downclimbing is always something to consider, but as someone else said, it doesn't appear to be a good option at Stone Mountain. There was a guy on a route next to us who lost his nerve about 20 feet

Downclimbing slabs is generally harder than upclimbing.

Downclimbing chimneys is often easier than upclimbing.

I'm more likely to launch up a chimney that will be run out to "see what happens", knowing that I can back off than I am to get on a slab where I'll be run out anywhere near my limit. Part of the trick when you're not positive that you can commit to the whole distance is to not do an up move that you don't think you'd want to consider as a down move.

My partner knows his limits better and has at least 10 years more experience than I do, so he's able to run it out closer to his limit...partly because he's a better down climber too. Even on slabs. However, neither of us would be likely to do a slab run out that we weren't pretty certain we'd be able to do before starting up.

Also, as angry was describing, sometimes downclimbing doesn't mean returning to the belay and bailing off the climb. Sometimes a step back to a better stance can give you a few more chances to suss out the move. Sometimes you can find a way that feels secure enough to keep chugging.


vegastradguy


Mar 9, 2006, 4:37 PM
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like mal- i really dont think about run-outs too much. i also have no problem with really big run-outs, as long as they are well below my limit. which is not to say i can't lead run-outs at my limit (i've been forced to before, and i'm sure i will again sometime), but i dont like it as much.

one big thing for me on run-outs is not so much the gear involved (although bomber pro before the run-out is always nice) as it is the rock quality involved. if its solid rock, within my range, and the gear before is good enough to hold a catch (and sometimes even if it isnt), i'll hop on it. if the rock is bad, however, i'm much more likely to back off (like i did on a '5.5' (really 5.9) last weekend- flaky sugary sandstone with no pro for the first 60').

i will say that putting your head down and climbing run-outs is not for everyone, some folks jsut cant get in the mindset necessary for it. others can do it with little or no problems. most of us are in between somewhere....

know your limits, know your pro, know the rock quality, and make the appropriate decision based on it.


flamer


Mar 9, 2006, 4:45 PM
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As has been stated you must find and know your "head".

I've done quite abit of runout stuff...some on purpose(it was easy) some on accident(didn't have the right gear) some for the fun of it(I knew it was there), once because it was a First ascent(don't climb with anyone named "scary Larry").

A trick I use is visualisation. I'm talking about when you are in a perfectly safe environment, like sitting on the sofa. Put yourself mentally into bad situations.TRY TO SCARE YOURSELF. Then work your way through it. I've quite the imgaination (and have made myself quite upset before!) I put myself there and push my mind, and when the real deal hits it's not nearly as big a deal.

Cardinal rule!!! Don't try it if you aren't sure you can do it!! Save that for stuff with good gear. Then come back stronger.

josh


vegastradguy


Mar 10, 2006, 8:23 AM
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In reply to:
once because it was a First ascent(don't climb with anyone named "scary Larry").

that was a scary fucking lead....hell, following it was pretty damn scary too!


healyje


Mar 10, 2006, 10:00 AM
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Here is the fixed link to the falling thread..

In general lots of good comments here. I especially recommend to beginning trad climbers that they do a bunch of downclimbing. Try backing off a tad in the gym or during your warm up laps on top ropes and make it a point to start downclimbing some of those routes. The ability to reverse moves to get out of a bad situation really counts sometimes. Hell, I've even downled some routes for fun - it puts an entire new context around following...

Larry is olde school...

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