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An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go".
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_fiend_


Feb 2, 2007, 1:50 PM
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An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go".
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This will be familiar to all those who have read RWW, in particular the anecdotes that Arno describes where a climber facing a challenging project has given the route a go, not to get to the top, but for some other reason (dial the moves a bit more, see what a link is like, etc).

One of several gritstone climbs I've wanted to do this winter is a steep slab called Jetrunner. The meat of the climb is short: Easy climbing leads to a sloping break with a thin seam at the back. This seam is shoved full of gear, and then there is the crucial step up into the break using just a mono layaway to reach the next good break and an easy finish. It has a reputation for having dodgy gear in the first break, but actually the gear is good, and it is safe - but the move is precarious and committing.

I tried this a few weeks ago, spent maybe an hour on that move, up and down to a rest, trying various sequences. Finally got the best sequence but couldn't commit to it - I was scared of falling (phantom fear!!!) and I was scared of muffing the onsight. Eventually I got fed up and cleanly downclimbed, stripping the gear.

I went back today, got onto the crucial sequence a lot quicker, and still found it too bloody committing. The move just feels as soon as I'd stand up, I'd barndoor off this mono and fall. Still no danger but still the fears mentioned above. I spent about 1/2 hour on it, and got fed up. Again I downclimbed clean. We went off for my partner to lead a route, and I felt cosy and chilled in the February sun - and really didn't feel like pushing myself and getting scared.

I felt bored of this route, and bored of the possibility of coming back yet again to try it. The mystery and the magic had gone a bit, I just wanted to be done with it. I let go of the "need" to do it properly and stopped caring about it. Possibly not the healthiest approach but the initial pure desire had been overtaken by a mini-obsession....giving up was a way out of that.

So, I went back up with the approach "I will try the move, and if I fall (and in my view fail on the route), that's fine because at least I wouldn't have to come back!". So this time I actually finally committed, stepped up, and pulled on the pocket......


(This post was edited by _fiend_ on Feb 2, 2007, 1:52 PM)


arnoilgner


Feb 12, 2007, 7:16 AM
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Re: [_fiend_] An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go". [In reply to]
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hi fiend,
you know what's going on here, right? your initial learning and curiosity (motivation) was replaced by your ego's desire for the top. this happens to us so many times. we must develop the ability to notice when this happens. our ego makes climbing so much like work. is this what you want your climbing to be? stay curious to the situation. what is causing you to resist committing? how could you engage a little and allow the experience to reveal accurate information to you? perhaps a single move and then reverse it? see, our mind creates perceptions of a situation prior to us even engaging it. this perception is many times incorrect. you cannot trust your mind's perceptions. you must engage your body to allow the experience to reveal what is really there. find small ways to engage and stay curious to your own learning process. our path in life and climbing can be fun if we allow it to be and keep our ego in check.
arno


chill41


Mar 28, 2007, 8:44 AM
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Re: [_fiend_] An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go". [In reply to]
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In reply to:
Finally got the best sequence but couldn't commit to it - I was scared of falling (phantom fear!!!) and I was scared of muffing the onsight. Eventually I got fed up and cleanly downclimbed, stripping the gear.

I went back today, got onto the crucial sequence a lot quicker, and still found it too bloody committing. The move just feels as soon as I'd stand up, I'd barndoor off this mono and fall. Still no danger but still the fears mentioned above.


How big a fall were you looking at taking? You said twice that it was a safe but scary fall...so why not go for the move and take the fall? Or even go up and intentionally jump? It would probably clear your mind and would help you in the future when you've got a similar fall situation...next time if you know the fall is safe then you'll have nothing to worry about, and you can direct all your attention to the movement.

Aside from this, I think you've really got to decide for yourself whether or not and how badly you want to make it to the top of this one route. If you think it's worth going for it and risking the fall, then you should just go and do what it takes. If you don't want to do it (right now anyway) then by all means you should "let it go" and move on to other routes...why dwell on it for a second longer than you have to?

I'd love to get into this more if you or anybody else has got something to say on the matter...

chill


_fiend_


Mar 30, 2007, 5:58 AM
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Re: [chill41] An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go". [In reply to]
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In reply to:
I'd love to get into this more if you or anybody else has got something to say on the matter...


Sure, just tell me when to shut up about it Crazy

In reply to:
How big a fall were you looking at taking?


A few metres in total. Very small relatively.

In reply to:
You said twice that it was a safe but scary fall...so why not go for the move and take the fall?

Because I'm still fucking scared of letting go and losing control and falling off?!?! I know intellectually it's phantom fear, I know intellectually that I can take that fall as it's safe. But I still find it very hard to bring myself to do so. I am genuinely, but unjustifiably scared and inhibited about falling off....I have been for all my climbing career and I still am. I am working on it - hence my presence on this forum, but I am still struggling with it.

In reply to:
Or even go up and intentionally jump?

Same thing, except there is another issue, which applies to falling off too - I do not want to blow the onsight. I want to do the route clean or not at all. My desires include climbing the route clean (whether that gets arno's approval or not). In this case I had just got so fed up with the situation that I was prepared to blow it and not do the route clean, so I was, eventually, prepared to take that fall. This is a "good" result (i.e. being prepared to go for it and see what happens, including falling) but gained by a "bad" means (i.e. being fed up....rather than being willing to do that as part of the normal climbing process).

In reply to:
Aside from this, I think you've really got to decide for yourself whether or not and how badly you want to make it to the top of this one route. If you think it's worth going for it and risking the fall, then you should just go and do what it takes.

See above!! If only it was that bloody simple!! If it was, I wouldn't be on here.

If you have any magic formula for "just go and do what it takes", that I haven't discovered in a decade of trying to progress and overcoming my psychological inhibitions, please do say. However I suspect that arno is closer to the truth with it being bloody hard work and a constant process of striving.

I knew I wanted to do it....I always want to do the routes I choose....eventually it got to a stage where wanting to be "rid of" the route outweighed the desire to do it (clean) and opened me up to the possibility of engaging with a curious, unbiased state. In fact I think the moment just before and when I committed was a very pure "RWW" moment....but as I say, gained by a "bad" state of mind prior to that.


_fiend_


Mar 30, 2007, 6:09 AM
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Re: [arnoilgner] An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go". [In reply to]
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arnoilgner wrote:
you know what's going on here, right? your initial learning and curiosity (motivation) was replaced by your ego's desire for the top. this happens to us so many times. we must develop the ability to notice when this happens. our ego makes climbing so much like work. is this what you want your climbing to be? stay curious to the situation. what is causing you to resist committing? how could you engage a little and allow the experience to reveal accurate information to you? perhaps a single move and then reverse it? see, our mind creates perceptions of a situation prior to us even engaging it. this perception is many times incorrect. you cannot trust your mind's perceptions. you must engage your body to allow the experience to reveal what is really there. find small ways to engage and stay curious to your own learning process. our path in life and climbing can be fun if we allow it to be and keep our ego in check.

Thank you arno, wise words that I will try to heed.


chill41


Mar 30, 2007, 7:04 AM
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Re: [_fiend_] An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go". [In reply to]
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In reply to:
eventually it got to a stage where wanting to be "rid of" the route outweighed the desire to do it (clean) and opened me up to the possibility of engaging with a curious, unbiased state. In fact I think the moment just before and when I committed was a very pure "RWW" moment....but as I say, gained by a "bad" state of mind prior to that.

Well, regardless of how you got there, it seems like you were able to change your attitude towards this route alot, and for the better. Like you said, this is a ongoing and difficult process, and I rejoice at any small improvements or revelations.

In reply to:
I am genuinely, but unjustifiably scared and inhibited about falling off....I have been for all my climbing career and I still am.

I've been there before too...and it really sucks. It generally makes climbing much less enjoyable when you're not able to push yourself into a potential fall and every move has to feel totally secure before you commit to it.

I know that I'm only going to get stronger if I do some routes at or above my limit...and that's when a fall is a distinct possibility.

To help with your situation...have you taken many practice falls? I thought I remembered reading another post of yours about this. Taking several clean safe falls (of progressively greater length) worked wonders for me and totally eradicating that fear. As long as you know how to fall then even the unexpected fall shouldn't be all that bad.

Granted, I usually take those practice falls on bolts. Now this is another issue entirely, but after climbing trad for the past several months, I hardly ever even care where my last bolt is on a sport route; lately I've just gone for the move right away, fully prepared to fall. It's a great feeling!

Chris


_fiend_


Mar 31, 2007, 4:53 AM
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Re: [chill41] An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go". [In reply to]
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Yup I posted about falling practise, I have been doing that indoors, and it has made me feel a bit more comfortable about falling outdoors....almost. What it actually makes me fall more comfortable about is jumping off indoors, and a little bit more comfortable about jumping off outdoors. If I choose to jump I can do it slightly easier. But if I'm trying to put myself into a position where I can fall off "by accident", I still have inhibitions about that - and not inhibitions just due to natural protection, but due to the letting go, the losing control...

It is something I think I just have to keep persevering with... And persevering with the attitude improvements.


arnoilgner


Mar 31, 2007, 7:00 PM
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Re: [_fiend_] An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go". [In reply to]
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are you really losing control when you let go? or, are you just transitioning to a different kind of control?
arno


_fiend_


Apr 1, 2007, 3:01 AM
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Re: [arnoilgner] An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go". [In reply to]
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Ah, sorry, shouldn't have used to phrase "letting go" to talk about an accidental fall. I should have just used "falling off" again.

Obviously if I'm choosing to let go I am asserting control by backing out of the situation of chaos. If I'm choosing to put myself in a situation where I might fall accidentally, I'm relinquishing control.


arnoilgner


Apr 1, 2007, 3:12 PM
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Re: [_fiend_] An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go". [In reply to]
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this is not what i'm getting at. regardless of whether or not you accidently or intentionally fall, are you out of control when you fall? many climbers think this. "i'm in control when i'm attached to the rock and out of control when i'm falling." but, i content that you are not out of control when you fall, accidently or not. this misconception of being out of control stems from thinking that you can control your external environment. since i am "planted" on the rock and can hold on then i'm in control, but when i let go (fall off), i'm out of control because there is nothing to hold onto. this is the logic. think about what kind of message this sends to your mind. "i'm out of control so can't do anything about it and might as well just ride it out and hope for the best."
-
i'd like you to consider a different way of looking at this. you can't control the external environment. but, you can control what you do. when attached to the rock you can control how you hold on, how you breathe, and how you relax. when you fall you can control how you breathe, how you relax, and what you do with your body (look down, use arms/legs to respond to the impact of the fall). you are just moving from one kind of control (static) to another kind of control (dynamic). think of what kind of message this sends to your mind. "i focus my attention on what i can control: breathing, staying relaxed, and responding to the fall." this keeps you active in the situation.
arno


chill41


Apr 2, 2007, 7:39 AM
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Re: [_fiend_] An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go". [In reply to]
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It sounds like your practice indoors has got you moving in the right direction but you could probably do better. Since it's the falls outside that are really wigging you out I think you should really take some outside practice falls so that you get used to the feeling and know how to react when falling.

Maybe you could take a few progressively longer intentional falls and then transition into trying a hard move that you might or might not fall on. In this way you could gain the experience of falling smoothly and in control even on unexpected falls.

Just imagine the additional power you would have and how much smoother your climbing would be if you could incorporate this knowledge and experience into your skillset.


_fiend_


Apr 5, 2007, 2:30 PM
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Re: [arnoilgner] An interesting experience: The effects of "letting go". [In reply to]
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Points taken, from both of you.


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