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arnoilgner


Sep 7, 2006, 11:02 AM
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Deciding to Fall
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Hello,
I was climbing at Foster Falls, TN yesterday (for fun...seems I don't make time for that as much lately) and wanted to share my experience. I was on a route I've never been on. My intention was to onsight and not give in to allowing my conscious mind to decide for me to fall. Well, all was going well until about 20 feet from the top (about a 90 foot route). At this point I had a "fair" stance to regain some strength and composure. I made two moves up deadpointing to a side pull and it turned out to be less positive than I thought it would be. At that instant I had a thought (maybe several) about how I didn't like the hold. I looked around and saw another side pull and was intending to grab it with my other hand. Instead of continuing and doing it I hesitated. That hesitation caused me to decide to fall because I was wrapped up in just those thoughts about how I didn't like the hold and how I wouldn't be able to hold it while also moving my right hand up. So, even though I was pretty pumped, my mind gave up and it decided to fall.

Upon analysis, I realized I could have down climbed those two moves to my previous rest, albeit a marginal rest. I could have moved a leg also to gain better balance and make the side pull feel more positive. Tunnel vision I guess. The next time I went up that is exactly what I did. I moved my foot up and although the side pull still felt tenuous I kept going by grabbing the other side pull with my right hand. So, a combination of moving a foot, staying committed by making anther move with my other hand quickly was all it took to solve the puzzle.

My biggest area to improve is remembering to be the witness when I get into that space where doubts come in. I think this is true for most climbers. Want to share any "deciding to fall" experiences you've had?
arno


antigrav


Sep 7, 2006, 11:53 AM
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Hmm. Could "fear of falling" have helped? Maybe you have become too little fearful of falling? (I just mention it because from some other recent threads, people seem to regard their fear of falling as a problem.)

I have some of that fear myself, of course, but I'm not sure it's a bad thing. One effect is that it causes me to hold back more on slabs than on steep routes. I like to think that that is not such a bad idea...

But when it comes to climbing until one falls rather than letting go, maybe the fear is your friend...

just crazy idea...


saxfiend


Sep 7, 2006, 12:58 PM
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In reply to:
Want to share any "deciding to fall" experiences you've had?
arno
Great story, Arno! Do you find that solving a puzzle the way you did the second time up helps you the next time you come up against a mental barrier (e.g., doubts, tunnel vision)?

I don't know if this falls in the same deciding-to-fall category, but I recently found myself having to put up a lot of mental resistance to allowing myself to fall or call for take. I was leading a pretty strenuous trad route (this is the one I emailed you about) that was slightly overhung with no place to take a rest stance. This voice in my head kept screaming "I can't hold on any longer, I'm going to fall before long, I have to rest, I have to call for take." But my other mental voice kept answering, "I can hold on long enough to place this piece, I just need to keep moving." It helped being able to switch arms sometimes when I was placing or clipping pro. So I guess it just came down to a conscious decision not to give in to the first voice. :) I felt like I learned something valuable about my reserves -- mental and physical -- from the experience.

Plus, my ego was very satisfied to get the onsight on a hard lead! :D

JL

PS -- What was the route you were on?


sed


Sep 7, 2006, 1:05 PM
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good post. I think that pause to worry about falling is the undoing of many red-points. it's something I have to work on too.


dahle


Sep 7, 2006, 1:22 PM
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I know that I hate to fall...I accept that I have to fall occasionally, but I will push through as much as I can...although I do admit that there are times that I'll give up.

When I'm on-sighting at/near my limit, I get anchor-fever sometimes....I'll push through a hard move or two on crappy holds. Especially if I see a rest upcoming.
My favorite two stories on this are a couple of 11ish routes, one at Jackson Falls, IL..the other at RRG, KY. Both times I felt like I was gassed & about to come off. Saw a rest or the anchors, and the 'anchor-fever' set in. I was gunning for that rest or the anchors. Both times I blew through and kept my mind from telling me I was going to go flying.
Its one of my favorite things of climbing to see how you end up trying to keep your mind involved, but at the same time trying to keep it out of the way so that it doesn't 'nay-say' you into falling.
-Dale


arnoilgner


Sep 7, 2006, 8:38 PM
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hi antigrav

well...the route was slightly overhanging with almost zero chance of hitting anything. so, any fear of falling distracts attention and will reduce your ability to commit forward. yes, when a fall can cause injury fear of falling can help keep you engaged and not over extend yourself.
in my situation, though, i wasn't at all afraid of falling due to my last pro was only 5-6 feet below with clean fall consequences.
my problem was the tendency to listen to my doubts when i'm stressed.
arno


arnoilgner


Sep 7, 2006, 8:41 PM
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hey saxfiend,
everytime i problem solve, diminish tunnel vision, etc i'm learning how to improve for the next time i'm in a similar situation. i guess my problem lately is, due to my lack of time to get on routes and push myself, i'm relearning everything i get on challenging climbs.
the route was "heart of gold".
arno


arnoilgner


Sep 7, 2006, 8:45 PM
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yes dahle. those two voices in our heads--one wants to keep us safe and the other wants us to rise to the challenge.
we can satisify each...
safe voice: when we are at a rest stance (with pro) we can assess the risk very well by identifying the next stance/pro, checking out the fall consequence (is it safe or not), and looking for climbing possibilities.
challenge voice: stay committed by continuing to climb...keep that momentum.
arno


dahle


Sep 8, 2006, 9:43 AM
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Arno,
I'll admit that I had not read much about the warrior's way until noticing your signature. After reading through several newsletters, I realized that I've been following some of the warrior's way principles without knowing it.
In my situation, the falls were clean, I knew they were without analyzing the fall. I knew I was safely in the climbing system. Momentum (flow) was working in my favor, I knew if I kept in that flow I'd more than likely make the moves.
I have focused on using momentum (continuous climbing) in my climbing for quite some time. This came about as a way to save energy, its much easier to make a move if you're flowing through it rather than stopping & starting.
An interesting thought occurred to me as I was thinking back on these events, I think there is a positive feedback cycle here.
The continuous climbing helps make moves easier, and continues to encourage listening to your 'challenge voice' by making your 'safe voice' happy by knowing you can make the moves.
Very interesting. It wasn't until today that I realized reading through a few things that I was training my mind to climb as well as my body. Of course they are both related, but I've always thought that I was learning technique in terms of drop-knee's, smears, etc etc.
Thanks for the eye-opener,
Dale


chill41


Sep 8, 2006, 11:34 AM
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I've noticed the same thing about having 2 different voices in your head that you can listen to. Unfortunately, for me the "safe" voice almost always automatically drowns out the "challenge" voice unless I make a pre-meditated conscious effort to focus on the challenge. Once I've decided that I'm going to just keep climbing, it's much easier to focus on the movement and the problem-solving and I climb smoothly. On some days though, I just can't seem to get that safe voice out of my head at all, even when climbing safe sport routes, and as soon as I get into a hard move I start to automatically want to back down. At times like this there's no overriding voice saying "Go for it, come on you know you want to make it to the next rest/clip." Instead all I want to do at that moment is get away from perceived danger.


wonderwoman


Sep 11, 2006, 5:38 PM
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In reply to:
good post. I think that pause to worry about falling is the undoing of many red-points. it's something I have to work on too.

Exactly! In my case on sport, it's definately the undoing of many onsights. I seem to be able to do a harder climb one time and consciously (more often than unconsciously) fall before making it to the top. But then once I know how it feels, I often manage to get the red point. But if I could commit to the climb and work through the crux, then I know that I can up my onsight level.

On trad, however, I'm too afraid to fall and manage to get the onsight at a much lower level! :lol:


arnoilgner


Sep 11, 2006, 10:15 PM
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Hi Dale,
Yes, a positive feedback loop. Continuous climbing also gives you momentum. I've experienced that if I keep moving up the thoughts dissipate. "I'm too pumped..." then your body makes the move anyway "Oh, I guess I wasn't..."

I'm not saying that you always can make the next move but our thoughts about whether or not it is possible are many times false. Making the move anyway allows the body to make the decision instead of the comfort seeking mind.
be well,
arno


arnoilgner


Sep 11, 2006, 10:21 PM
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Hi chill41,
The comfort voice needs to be satisified. Falling practice will help. Remember also to do this while at those stances (decision points where you have a rest and pro):
1. Look up for the next stance (need to know when the stress will be over).
2. Look down to fully understand the fall consequence.
3. Look up to identify climbing sequences and possibilities.
arno


arnoilgner


Sep 11, 2006, 10:32 PM
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Update...
Last weekend I was climbing on Whitesides. Lots of thin face climbing. Anyway, some pretty testy climbing for me. I like deadpointing, so when I deadpointed I knew I would have a tendency to let go of the holds in my mind. To counter this, at each stance, before I launched into the next section, I would set a strong intention and cue to "not let go" (probably better phrased as: hold on). On one pitch I did some deadpoints and on one of them I barely grabbed it and the immediate thought was "I can't hold it" but I had gone into it with that strong intention to hold on. I held it, then got another thought that I couldn't hold it... kept holding on... I think it went back and forth three times all within two seconds. But, I was able to hold it and continue climbing. Intention allowed my body to make the decision instead of those quiting thoughts in my mind.
arno


Partner heiko


Oct 2, 2006, 1:20 AM
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Couple weeks ago I went sport climbing with a friend (limestone face climbing). We didn't have a topo of the area but had a rough idea, so we picked a first route and he onsighted it - not easily, but onsight nonetheless. I felt confident, we climb similar grades.

I went next, got up about 2/3, climbed past the next bolt and got stuck. I felt I couldn't release either hand to move on, it was slightly overhanging so I couldn't see my feet (nor were the holds "good" enough to lean back a little for looking down). Anyway, I pinned myself down there, total tunnel vision, zero flexibility. Knowing that my feet were above the last bolt stiffened my body and after a lot of cursing and whining I decided to fall off.

A bit later I toproped the route and discovered that the "bad" hold I had used frontally with my left hand was actually a pretty fine sidepull and I could have easily laybacked the move without any problems and moved on. Instead, I used all my energy to maintain my bad position and curse and swear and calculate how far I would fall. Changing body position wouldn't have made the fall any longer... but I could've made it past the crux with one more move.

I fall into that trap all the time. On lead I simply don't use the whole repertoire of moves that I'm actually able to perform.

Heiko


patto


Oct 2, 2006, 1:56 AM
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It all comes down to how much you fear falling. I have a large fear of falling as I have never taken a proper lead fall.

On the weekend I attempted my hardest lead to date. I stitched it up well but fear was with my the whole way up. I ended up getting increadibly pumped and exhausted but fear and adrenelin made me stay on the rock much longer than my will power ever could. I downclimbed to rests a couple of times.

At one point I accidently put weight on the rope (with a cam above my head) I felt in hold, only with this reasurance did my muscles decide that they didn't want to hold any long and I slumped on the rope. I didn't end up completing the climb because incredibly weak after spending so much time in a pumpy position.

The point is that my fear of falling and my 1% of doubt in my gear keeps me from choosing to fall. I don't see this as a bad thing though as gear doesn't rip and people don't get injured if they don't fall in the first place.


jaybro


Oct 2, 2006, 4:12 AM
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Great thread. Some very good analyzes here.


fredde


Oct 2, 2006, 5:11 AM
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I agree, a very interesting subject about a very common problem. What would interest me even more than the problem is if anyone has come up with a good solution. Some kind of mental exercise, perhaps, or some other technique to focus your thoughts on the right thing when it matters? Some specific way of climbing/belaying?

I my experience (pretty obviously) you tend to be a braver climber during periods when you lead lots of hard climbs and thus get used to taking falls. The belayer may also play an important role by giving supportive comments. Any other succesful methods?


tradmanclimbs


Oct 2, 2006, 7:04 AM
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If the climbing is at or near your limit you have to get the 10,000 things out of your mind. All that clutter is going to lead to negative thought that will in turn lead to a desperate holler for TAKE!!! Of course you have to risk asses before you launch into it and be 100% positive that it is ok to take falls or do you need to switch modes to no fall climbing. I do a lot of soloing on climbs that I am solid on yet the little voices still creep in there from time to time, What if I slip? what if that hold breaks? I have to make a concious effort to clear all that junk out of my head and just climb. Keeping upward movement going helps a lot. hanging out in the middle of the crux doing pullups usualy dosen't help you get the redpoint :roll: Unless its an FA though I really don't care much if I take a rest or grab the draw to clip. It just is not wourth getting hurt for a silly little unwriten rule.


mturner


Oct 2, 2006, 8:41 AM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
good post. I think that pause to worry about falling is the undoing of many red-points. it's something I have to work on too.

Exactly! In my case on sport, it's definately the undoing of many onsights.

For me, it seems I'm able to push myself through the hard or scary part of a problem mostly because I don't want to do it again. In other words, I know if I come down I'm just going to have to get to that point again and I'd rather just send now so it motivates me. Not on all climbs, just the ones I start to feel sketched out on. Hey, whatever works right?


vector


Oct 2, 2006, 12:17 PM
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In reply to:
On lead I simply don't use the whole repertoire of moves that I'm actually able to perform.

Very clearly put. I am the same.

What is really exhilarating is when you _do_ use a technique on lead for the first time. I remember the first few times I did committing lie backs on trad lead very clearly. I felt so free and "light" afterwards--like I could flow up anything.

On topic, I decide to fall a lot on sport climbing, still. (Only once on trad.) This was actually a step forwards from falling due to slipping on the wet rock resulting from flow of terror provoked tears.

But the great thing is when you do push forward instead of taking the fall. Feels _so_ good.

Henry


shimanilami


Oct 2, 2006, 1:19 PM
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For me, taking up sport climbing over the last 2 years has helped me a great deal in growing comfortable with falling. On well bolted, overhanging routes, there is little danger of getting hurt, and my brain understands this now. The last handfull of whippers I've taken have been complete surprises to me. It's been an enlightening experience. To be able to laugh after falling and then learn from the slip or broken hold ... well, I feel like I'm seeing things differently now. I'm clearly not thinking about failure. I'm also not second-guessing or getting angry with myself. Instead, I'm pushing hard with every bit of physical, mental and emotional energy I've got. I'm having more fun than I've had in a long time.

I've taken this new attitude with me on my trad climbs, too, and it's been awesome. Admittedly, I place a lot of gear now and am always aware of the fall potential (and having a 7 month old son contributes to this), but I think this is a good thing. I've actually backed up gear at cruxes (which I never used to do), checked how the fall might look and gotten comfortable with that, and then fired through with no fear. My on-sight level has gone up a full grade in the last year, and I contribute nearly all of this to my mental approach. Safety first. Then 100% commitment to achieving the goal. It works.

I loved your book, Arvo. Thank you. It surprises me to hear that you still experience the fear. But I know I'll get it back some day and will be looking for ways to overcome it again.

But for now, no fear! Climb on!


arnoilgner


Oct 9, 2006, 6:55 AM
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Hello Heiko,
Remember, limestone is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, types of rock to onsight. So, don't be too hard on yourself for not onsighting. When I leave a stance, where I have a rest and usually pro, I remind myself that I will have the same tendency you seem to have: decide with my conscious mind that I cannot make one more move and fall. So, I use a mantra or reminder "make the next move" to remember to stay on task and not listen to my mind. When it gets chaotic and stressful we forget. Use something to remind you to make that next move.
arno


arnoilgner


Oct 9, 2006, 7:01 AM
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Patto, your comment:
"The point is that my fear of falling and my 1% of doubt in my gear keeps me from choosing to fall. I don't see this as a bad thing though as gear doesn't rip and people don't get injured if they don't fall in the first place."

Yes, if you don't fall you won't hurt yourself. But, you are motivating yourself with fear. Do you think top climbers do this? I say top climbers because if we are to excel in climbing we need to see what top performers are doing. Tony Yaniro, for instance, fell all the time. He learned that the gear he places actually holds. You are climbing and wondering if your gear will hold. You will never be able to push yourself to realize your full potential doing this. And that's fine if that is what you want from your climbing. Just know what you want and the results you can expect from making those choices.
arno


arnoilgner


Oct 9, 2006, 7:05 AM
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fredde, your comment:
"What would interest me even more than the problem is if anyone has come up with a good solution. Some kind of mental exercise, perhaps, or some other technique to focus your thoughts on the right thing when it matters?"

I gave one exercise that you can do in my reply to Heiko's comment. You mention "...to focus your thoughts on the right thing..." so let me respond to that. The whole point is NOT to focus your thoughts. You need to get into a state of trusting your body to climb and diminishing thoughts completely. Granted, it is difficult to get a blank mind, so to speak, but that is what you are striving for. If you set an intention to keep moving and keep breathing you are engaging the body to do the climbing it knows how to do. And, by doing this you diminish the mind's tendency to think or doubt.
arno

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