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Recovering drive after decking
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flyinglow


Nov 13, 2006, 7:06 PM
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Recovering drive after decking
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What happened to my head?

I decked from about 15 feet up a couple weeks ago while trying to clip the second bolt on a sport climb, I turned my foot as i was pulling slack to clip, and the foot chip i was on broke.

My climbing just hasn't been the same since. I wasn't seriously injured, just a little bruised & such, my belayer almost caught me. Props to the belayer, i had a huge armload of slack out, and fell completely by surprise. Even so, the rope came tight as i was hitting the ground, softening the blow considerably.

The part that's really bothering me, is that i felt stable and secure until my foot popped. I can't seem to regain my confidence. Had i made some kind of obvious mistake, or had the climb felt hard at that point, i would have no trouble accepting the fall or it's consequences.

This is unfortunate, as it happened right before a trip out west i had been planning for a couple months.
On my road trip, i started out fairly strong, even pulling off a couple of hard leads, and holding it together through a couple runouts that were longer than anticipated.

As the trip went on however, i lost motivation to lead anything that was hard for me. This culminated with my backing off of an "easy" lead(that appeared to be well protected) in joshua tree, and not leading anything else successfully for the rest of the trip. I racked up several times, but always found an excuse to quit somewhere in the first 10-15 feet of climbing.

Has anybody out there had a similar experience?
Any tips on how to get back drive/confidence?
Is this just a temporary burnout from too much climbing and too much time spent outside my comfort zone, or is my lead head permanently ruined?


_fiend_


Nov 14, 2006, 1:38 AM
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Re: [flyinglow] Recovering drive after decking [In reply to]
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In reply to:
What happened to my head?

You got shit-scared and it got messed up...

I don't think there is any mystery here - unexpectedly decking out from a position of seeming stability is bound to make you tentative, worried and over-cautious. Don't worry it is NOT permanent, I think most people can claw their way back to form from almost any "low period" (I know I have, several times). The issue is, how to do that.

From my own experiences:

Practical stuff:

Mileage! Keep going with the climbing, go somewhere where there's plenty of choice of routes, and keep familiar with the rock and what it requires.

Accept it's difficult. Be aware that you will probably struggle, but don't be governed by that, and don't give up. Just focus on doing what you can, even if that means finding easy route challenging.

Try different approaches. If a certain type of climbing is proving the most offputting, try different types of climbing to keep the fun of climbing going and not get too wrapped up in the current difficulties.

Also, in terms of RWW:

Witness what thoughts go through your mind as you're struggling on the routes.

Practise doing this so you can become more detatched from those thoughts and not governed by them.

Delay from doing the usual behaviour (e.g. backing off) that arises from those thoughts.

Once you can delay, try something different (do one more move, jump off if the gear is good, stay in balance and put another piece in if you were nervous).

Oh, and assess the risk carefully to avoid any situations that are going to feel like the one that led to your groundfall...

Good luck.


flyinglow


Nov 14, 2006, 6:38 AM
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In reply to:
You got shit-scared and it got messed up...

Thanks fiend... i didn't know.Wink
Honestly though, this is as much about ranting as needing help. I'm sure I'll come back around given enough time, It's just really frustrating to feel so lost. It's like there's two different sides arguing inside me. Part of me wants to climb, anything, anywhere. The other part thinks it's too dangerous and asks what it's all for.

In reply to:
Oh, and assess the risk carefully to avoid any situations that are going to feel like the one that led to your groundfall...

Yeah, that would be the big problem. How do i put mileage in without getting on easy, well protected routes that i feel secure on. I was on a warm-up route! And, the other problem: I live in michigan, land of NO ROCK.
Climbing in the gym doesn't give me any problems at all, I don't care if i deck onto a foot of padding, so it's well inside my comfort zone. The problem with gym climbing is, it's designed to eliminate the risks that i need to become comortable with again. It feels too safe to really replicate the situation i'm dealing with.

I'm looking forward to getting back out, but it doesn't happen all that often, and i won't know how i'm gonna react until i'm there. I'm going to work on spending a lot of time in witness mode, and really looking at why i'm doing what i'm doing. hopefully a little rest and reflection will be enough to put me back on track so i can enjoy my next trip out.

Thanks again.


schveety


Nov 15, 2006, 8:45 AM
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Myself and several friends have had this happen as well. In the beginning of my second season of climbing, I was climbing a finger crack and was laying it back and thought I had a solid foot smear when I unexpectedly fell, almost to the ground (mind you this was before I got into leading and was only following - severe rope stretch with all the rope out can cause some pretty big falls) - for some reason this really shook my confidence and I started having trouble on climbs - worrying about falling and swinging. It all culminated when I had a panic attack on a multipitch climb and had to work through it because there was no way down, since then things have gotten better.

What worked for me was just staying in the game and it gradually worked itself out. As a leader who has never decked, but can imagine the fear, I would say it might be best to follow other peoples routes for now - until your head comes back- and as the previous poster stated - be the witness and realize what you're telling yourself when you decide to come down - I think time will heal.......


jajen


Nov 17, 2006, 10:03 PM
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Re: [flyinglow] Recovering drive after decking [In reply to]
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In reply to:
What happened to my head?

I decked from about 15 feet up a couple weeks ago while trying to clip the second bolt on a sport climb, I turned my foot as i was pulling slack to clip, and the foot chip i was on broke.

The part that's really bothering me, is that i felt stable and secure until my foot popped. I can't seem to regain my confidence. Had i made some kind of obvious mistake, or had the climb felt hard at that point, i would have no trouble accepting the fall or it's consequences.

Flyingglow,
One other quick observation/something to consider: Along with fiend's comments regarding RWW stuff and within some of the context of RWW - re-read the above paragraphs.
Would you truly have no trouble accepting the fall and consequences if you made a mistake?? It sounds as though you did make a mistake - "I turned my foot as I was pulling slack...". Would the chip have popped if you hadn't moved the foot??

Just a suggestion.


flyinglow


Nov 18, 2006, 11:13 AM
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Re: [jajen] Recovering drive after decking [In reply to]
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In reply to:
Flyingglow,
One other quick observation/something to consider: Along with fiend's comments regarding RWW stuff and within some of the context of RWW - re-read the above paragraphs.
Would you truly have no trouble accepting the fall and consequences if you made a mistake?? It sounds as though you did make a mistake - "I turned my foot as I was pulling slack...". Would the chip have popped if you hadn't moved the foot??

Just a suggestion.

Yeah, I see what you're saying Jajen. I wasn't really trying to say that a mistake wasn't made, just that I didn't know it was a mistake when i made it. I had no way of knowing that the foot chip would break off when i made the move. If i had any idea that would be the outcome, i would have found a different way to do it. It looked solid as i climbed past, and felt bomber. I was relaxed, well balanced on a seemingly secure foot placement. My stance put me only a couple inches out of reach to the left of the draw. I only had to rotate my body just a tiny bit in order to reach the draw. when i turned my hips, the foot turned also, causing the chip to break.

There was one other option for clipping the bolt, but the way i chose seemed at the time to be the easier of the two. It required minimal body tension, and put the bolt just a little above shoulder level. there was a better handhold a bit lower, but it would require pulling more rope from a lower stance, and was a much harder move to actually clip(locking off at about shoulder level with one hand and decent foot placements while clipping on slightly overhung terrain.) the lower option would have lessened my distance to the ground, and increased the likelyhood of decking if i blew the clip.

As i found out, either option was run out enough that i was in danger of decking while pulling slack to clip.

I'm really trying to take something more away from the experience than "shit happens".
I've accepted the how and why of what happened. Now i'm trying to learn everthing i can so it doesn't happen again, but it's hard to find fault in the decision making process that i went through. I made sound decisions based on my past experience, and the information i had available to me, and still decked.

Aren't we as climbers regularly cautioned to find the best possible stance, and to try not to pull more slack than necessary to clip protection?

I've been thinking about my footwork, but it's difficult to be that precise all the time. It really was a very small amount that i moved my foot.


harihari


Nov 19, 2006, 12:07 AM
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I had somethign like this happen to me. Easy mileage, accept that stress takes its time to heal, do other stuff, and you will be OK.

You also have to get back on the horse-- you re-lead the route you decked from. Show it who's boss.


arnoilgner


Dec 5, 2006, 8:49 PM
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Re: [flyinglow] Recovering drive after decking [In reply to]
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Hello flyinglow,
How much previous falling experience do you have? From your reaction to this unexpected fall I'm thinking you don't have a lot of previous falling experience. I say this because when we have a controlling approach to climbing (resisting falling tends toward a controlling approach) and then something happens that takes our control away, we can unconsciously shutdown.
I recommend whipper therapy, in small dozes initially.
arno


flyinglow


Dec 19, 2006, 5:54 PM
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Re: [arnoilgner] Recovering drive after decking [In reply to]
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Actually, Arno, I've had a fair amount of falling experience. . After learning to lead in a gym a couple years ago, I quickly started leading outdoors.
I've never had a problem with taking safe falls. I primarily climb sport at the red river gorge, which as you know, offers many routes that are relatively safe to fall on. I don't consider a trip complete without taking at least a couple good sized falls. As the saying goes: If you ain't flyin' you ain't tryin'!

The issue i'm having now is with my confidence in trusting my feet(and the rock) where falling isn't an option. (such as while clipping the second bolt, dangerous fall potential, etc)

This particular incident came as a total surprise to me. I was aware that i would be in a situation with dangerous fall potential while clipping the second bolt, but evaluated the difficulty and the risk, and felt that i had it under control. Until my foot popped, i was within my comfort zone. I expected the route to be on the difficult side of my onsite ability, but quite do-able. I was prepared for and looking forward to a challenge, but generally expecting to send the route.

There is one thing that i've identified upon reflection: My attention had in some way already moved past the point i was at, part of my attention was focused on considering the crux of the route, which appeared to be another 30 or so feet up the wall. I wasn't totally in the moment.
I think the problem was that i was a little too comfortable with my position, dangerous as it was. I had already moved beyond that point in my mind.

It was the surprise of the event that shocked me. I push my limits quite regularly, and usually take several falls over the course of a weekend climbing. Even so, I have rarely fallen totally unexpectedly. If a move, or a section of rock looks difficult, i'll evaluate the fall potential and usually go for it, sometimes taking substantial falls. I rarely back down from a potential fall so long as it looks safe. I generally keep trying until i can't hold on anymore, wherever that might put me on the route.

Burnout has been something of a factor in this situation as well. I climbed more this past fall than ever before spending nearly every weekend climbing outside. And I've been pushing my limits hard, both on sport climbs, and on trad which is a much newer game to me. I've spent a lot of time outside my comfort zone lately.

Anyway, after a couple weeks off, my motivation is returning, and will probably be the burning desire i'm used to after another long winter cooped up in the gym michigan.

Arno, any advice on ways to avoid taking a controlling attitude toward climbing? Techniques or situations you've encountered that might shed some more light on the subject?

As usual, any comment/criticism is welcomed.
Thanks to Arno, and everybody else for their helpful comments thus far.


notapplicable


Jan 4, 2007, 7:00 PM
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I feel your pain. It's strange what can mess with ones head some times. Three years ago I made a very large but simple and stupid error which led to my decking from 20-25 ft. and breaking my right arm and also dislocateing the wrist. The break required surgery to heal properly and to this day it isnt and probably never will be as good as it was. Strangely enough the fall did nothing but motivate me and I found a whole new zone to climb in. After climbing stronger and bolder for the last two years I got shut down by a climb that should have been with in my ability. I had a total melt down, shaking so bad I couldnt down climb and had to hang on gear twice on my way to the anchors just to collect my self. It caught me completely by suprise and my head hasnt realy recovered. I have found that soloing helps alot and as everyone else has pointed out the best cure for the lead head blues is climbing and lots of it.


arnoilgner


Jan 8, 2007, 1:19 PM
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Hello flyinglow,
Sorry for the delay in replying. Holidays and all going on.
Your comment: "There is one thing that i've identified upon reflection: My attention had in some way already moved past the point i was at, part of my attention was focused on considering the crux of the route, which appeared to be another 30 or so feet up the wall. I wasn't totally in the moment."
-
Yes, attention can easily leave the present moment and then things can happen because we aren't attentive as we need to be about what our hands/feet are doing. Our attention, when climbing, moves ahead to check out everything that is between us and the end of the climb, and comes back into the area we are presently climbing in. It's important to do the "moving attention ahead" when you are stopped and assessing, and the climbing when your attention is back focused on the task at hand.
-
One thing I've found helpful is to move attention out. Attention can be in our head focused on what our mind is doing: bunch of thinking. Or, it can be outside focused on the situation: what we can see, feel, hear, etc. By getting attention out of your head you will be able to be more attentive and stay engaged in problem solving.

Your comment: "Arno, any advice on ways to avoid taking a controlling attitude toward climbing? Techniques or situations you've encountered that might shed some more light on the subject?"
-
We all tend to fall into a controlling mindset because we love being comfortable. And, that comfort is usually something we can't attain very well until we are at the end of the challenging climb. To develop a trusting mindset, which is the opposite of controlling, we need to do (with the body) certain things.
-
Here they are:
1. Find comfort IN the stressful climbing, and don't focus on when the stress will be over, like at the next rest. To gain more comfort in the midst of the stress you can relax your grip, lower your heals, move hips in close to the rock, refine your balance.
2. Climb and breathe continuously. In other words, know where you are...Are you climbing or resting. If you're climbing then keep moving and keep breathing. If you are resting keep shaking out and keep breathing.
NOTE: These are all things you are doing with your body. This is critical. You cannot defeat fear with the mind. You must find things you can do with your body so that as a result fear is diminished.
arno


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