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Changing my mind
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carbonrx8


Dec 14, 2006, 9:03 PM
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Changing my mind
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I should say first that I think I understand the solution. It's easy. More climbing. But let me state the problem.

When I approach a lead climb in the gym, I often have this great, go-get-'em mindset. I look at the climb and tell myself that I am going to clip the anchors no problem. Unfortunately, this mindset is ephemeral. By the third clip, I literally have this voice in my head that is telling me to bail. I am not talking crazy. It is my voice, but it is this scared whiney me, not the brutish, strong-sounding me that I heard at the start of the climb. By the time I hit the fourth or fifth clip, I have convinced myself to take, despite repeated retrospective analyses that show that I had an easy rest.

Oddly, when I am outside tradding my local heap, I will approach climbs much differently, I often feel more empty, not confident, but not doubtful either. Outside, I can often climb above pieces with serious decking potential and not feel scared (though I am telling myself that I CANNOT fall.) While I am a beginner and shouldn't play games like this, I am already starting to try placing fewer and fewer pieces, not for thrill, but to see what it feels like.

But inside the gym, I get creeped just standing above a clip.

True, inside, I am more than vertical (kinda gym policy for leads) while outside I am generally vertical or less so. So I get pumpy and find it difficult to clip. Also, if I climb the gym climb on lead once or twice, the fear goes away. But only until the next new lead. Note that TRing the climb prior to leading doesnít help, but I also donít feel any fear.

Just for facts sake. I have no issues on top rope even at grades much higher or more overhung (at least not issues like this. I fully admit that I canít climb worth crap. That's a serious issue, but another story Wink ) Because folks will ask, these leads are way moderate. As for my general climbing ability, I have never attempted an 11 on TR or 5.9 on lead. Also, I own RWW and have read it. But reading it and practicing it are such different things it seems like it wasnít even worth reading. (Please read that last statement carefully before commenting.)

Thank you for your kind and thoughtful replies.


jt512


Dec 14, 2006, 10:22 PM
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Re: [carbonrx8] Changing my mind [In reply to]
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carbonrx8 wrote:
When I approach a lead climb in the gym, I often have this great, go-get-'em mindset. I look at the climb and tell myself that I am going to clip the anchors no problem. Unfortunately, this mindset is ephemeral. By the third clip, I literally have this voice in my head that is telling me to bail. By the time I hit the fourth or fifth clip, I have convinced myself to take, despite repeated retrospective analyses that show that I had an easy rest.

Oddly, when I am outside tradding my local heap, I will approach climbs much differently, I often feel more empty, not confident, but not doubtful either. Outside, I can often climb above pieces with serious decking potential and not feel scared (though I am telling myself that I CANNOT fall.) While I am a beginner and shouldn't play games like this, I am already starting to try placing fewer and fewer pieces, not for thrill, but to see what it feels like.

But inside the gym, I get creeped just standing above a clip.

True, inside, I am more than vertical (kinda gym policy for leads) while outside I am generally vertical or less so. So I get pumpy and find it difficult to clip. Also, if I climb the gym climb on lead once or twice, the fear goes away.

Your situation is paradoxical. You're leading about 5.8 trad, and are willing to run it out above slabby terrain on which a climb would likey be injurious. But in the gym, where the routes are overhanging, and a fall would be into clean air, you are not only fearful, but the higher you are on the route, as you become even safer, your fear increases. You're calm when you are facing the greatest risk; and the safer your situation objectively is, the more fear you feel. Why would this be?

My guess is this. You are climbing easier, lower-angle routes outdoors. You are usually climbing in balance over your feet. You are climbing well within your limits. You feel in control. In contrast, indoors, the routes are steeper and pumpier. You have to hang on, keep climbing, and even clip while pumped. It's a different, more tenuous feeling, and you don't feel in control.

Your first step in overcoming your indoor fear is to objectively analyze the risk. Assess the consequences of a fall. Where will you land? What, if anything will you hit? Is your belayer competent? Does he know how to give you a soft catch so that you won't slam into the wall? Are you confident that you can fall safely: can you keep the rope from getting behind your leg; can you relax and absorb the impact force with your legs, etc.?

If you are unsure about some of the above questions, then you do not have much experience with lead falls. The answer, then, is to take practice lead falls. I won't go into detail about how to do that, since it's all in the book.

Once you become comfortable with lead falls, get on a route on which the falls are safe, but that is a little too hard for you, and climb until you fall. Don't take; fall. Remember, you've assessed the risk ahead of time, and have determined that it is acceptable. So, relax, commit, and climb until physical failure (a word Arno hates, with good reason, because if you succeed in climbing until "failure," you've succeeded in learning something).

Your next step is to learn to notice when doubts enter your consciousness and to refocus your attention on doing the next move. There's no trick to doing this that I am aware of; you just do it. Remember that you've already deemed that the risk is acceptable. You therefore don't care much whether you get to the next clip or fall trying. Either way you win: you either get to the next clip, or you learn something about how not to do the move, your physical fitness, or about falling.

With enough practice, you get used to feeling like you're always about to come off. Seriously, it starts to feel natural, even fun (at least once you're past the 2nd or 3rd clip), after a while. "Embrace the insecurity," is what I like to say. After all, if you really wanted to feel comfortable, you could just stay home and watch football.

Hope this helps.

Jay


carbonrx8


Dec 15, 2006, 8:59 AM
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Thank you. I think this is exactly what I needed to hear (read). All of it, but particularly the following is the direction I need to head:
jt512 wrote:
With enough practice, you get used to feeling like you're always about to come off. Seriously, it starts to feel natural, even fun (at least once you're past the 2nd or 3rd clip), after a while. "Embrace the insecurity," is what I like to say. After all, if you really wanted to feel comfortable, you could just stay home and watch football.

Hope this helps.

Jay

Sitting here, I am not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds right. Thanks again.


(This post was edited by carbonrx8 on Dec 15, 2006, 9:01 AM)


grampacharlie


Dec 17, 2006, 9:22 AM
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Re: [carbonrx8] Changing my mind [In reply to]
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though I wouldn't have worded it exactly the same, Jay is pretty much right on.

A thought I had while reading your post was that you have a huge potential for improvement... and that improvement come from playing to your strengths (trad climbing) and working on your weakness (overhanging face).

Weaknesses should not be seen in a negative sense in that they are the very place that allows you to get stronger and heighten you ability the most.

I would caution against getting to braisen with gear placements and runouts though. Being efficient is far different than seeing how far you can go before you place a peice. Sewing up a climb is better practice in the long run because you'll be comfortable placing gear when you really need it, such as before, in, or just after the crux moves.

Good luck and have fun!


carbonrx8


Jan 13, 2007, 8:28 AM
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Re: [grampacharlie] Changing my mind [In reply to]
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THanks gramacharlie.

I thought I might just give a little update since the warm weather has given us a chance to get outside. I haven't cured anything related to the initial post, but I did take up arms against my fear and developed a plan.

First, I got back to bouldering. No, I didn't run away from leading, just that with all the easy stuff late in the season, I lost some arm/hand strength and endurance. When warming up for bouldering, I would focus on good feet and when topping out (in the gym) I would hang for as long as I could just to build some endurance. Then on "projects" (if a random set of plastic shapes can be called a project) I would focus on good form. When I would fall, I would try to remind myself that a bouldering fall is not to much different in violence than a good lead fall; that on lead, despite the fact that I am 30 feet up, I am only going to fall about the same distance I do when bouldering.

When I got back on lead, that scary feeling above a clip seems to have diminished quite a bit. I can accept it and have even hung out a bit before clipping just to allow myself to relax into the situation. I still pump out and have not been able to "go-for-it" knowing I would fall, so I have a long way to go. But that voice in my head has quieted down a bit.

I think that is what Jay meant when he said to "Embrace insecurity." Really, security is an illusion. Even in "real life" Houses burn down, we loose our jobs. We cant just sit on the curb and cry waiting for the eventual disaster (which might be a blessing in disguise), we have to "go-for-it." So, while I have been able to begin to accept the fact I COULD fall, I haven't been able to fully accept reality and climb until my fingers slip from exhaustion. THats next...maybe.

Outside (on easy, non-overhanging stuff) I am surprised to find that some stuff that I thought was hard, wasn't hard at all. I was making it hard cause I was actually scared. Interestingly, I didn't realize I was scared (really just nervous) until after I came back and did the route again, unafraid (or less so.) I find that interesting because I realize I am scared when I am inside. Perhaps is it my unconscious knowing that consequences are "for real" outside, and I supress the fear so that it does not get in the way?

Anyway. Like i said just a (rambling) update.


grampacharlie


Jan 13, 2007, 4:09 PM
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Good to hear, and it sounds like you've made some key improvements.
Keep it up!


_fiend_


Feb 2, 2007, 1:24 PM
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Re: [jt512] Changing my mind [In reply to]
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Just to second what JT said....words of wisdom.

Be wary of messing around on trad....climbing can be very dangerous if you fuck it up. Or pretty safe if you don't.

RWW has some great advice about dealing with the indoor situation you describe, but it does assume that people are very competent and sensible with the safety side.


arnoilgner


Feb 12, 2007, 7:07 AM
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Re: [carbonrx8] Changing my mind [In reply to]
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hi carbonrx8,
treat tradding like voting...place early and place often. you can run it out after you get much more experience. do you value the learning process or are you just interested in getting to the top of climbs? if you push yourself too far out of your past experience level you will accomplish one of two things: hurting yourself or scaring yourself. learning occurs best when you take small leaps into the unknown.
arno


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