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granite_grrl


Mar 11, 2007, 8:08 AM
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trying to enjoy climbing after bad accident
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For those who missed the story last summer, I had a long fall onto a rock ledge and was air lifted out (once they actually managed to get me out to the parking lot). I was leading something that was well withing my abilities. I got past the crux and had an easy run out section of the climb to complete.

No one knows why I fell. I don't remember that day at all (the rest of the info was told to me by others).

It took a long time for them to get me out. I had serious injuries, collapsed lungs, brain swelling (head hit really hard), broken pelvis, broken femur, and lots of other little things. I spent 6 weeks in the hospital, almost 4 months of cruthes and I'm still using a cane.

I started climbing again in January. Mostly on the home climbing wall and then out on ice.

How does one come back from something so traumatic? I am scared for myself a lot of the time, but I am also terrified of my husband out leading ice because almost any lead fall on ice will fuck you up. He keeps telling me that he's perfectly safe and there's no reason for him to fall....but I keep thinking that that was my mentality when I fell on that easy runout section.

Its gotten to the point of that I don't even want to hear about him out climbing. I feel that he has tried pushing me so hard that I am recoiling from anything to do with leading. We started out on the wrong foot and I don't know how to get it back on track.

I enjoy climbing (though some days its hard), and I used to love leading. I want to get back on track with my enjoyment and desire to climb, but its been terribly hard with another climber in the house that expects you to heal much faster than you are (both body and mind).


(This post was edited by granite_grrl on Mar 11, 2007, 12:29 PM)


granite_grrl


Mar 12, 2007, 4:39 AM
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Re: [granite_grrl] trying to enjoy climbing after bad accident [In reply to]
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Reading over what I wrote yesterday I just wanted to add that I understand my fear is irrational and that I'm letting it get to me. I am trying to figure out how to make my emotional self realize what my intellectual self knows.

So far I have just been trying to go for volume. The ice is pretty much toast here but up till last weekend I was trying to get out a lot and I was starting to get much more comfortable with it. I am now headed back into the gym. When I was there on Friday I was very nervous. I'm going back tonight and I hope I'll be a little more comfortable (tonight I plan to work on TR falls and see what needs to be done to avoid making my leg hurt).


arnoilgner


Mar 12, 2007, 10:36 AM
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hi granitegirl,
i've been fortunate not to have had an accident in climbing. so, take what i say with that in mind. i don't really know what it takes to work through such an experience. however, i do know what helps with other fears and perhaps you can apply it to your situation.
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first, i think you need to ground your motivation in what you want from climbing. don't climb or do lead climbing or whatever because someone else thinks you should. if you love climbing then tap into and stay connected with what it is that you enjoy.
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second, find small ways to engage climbing again. seems like you are doing this with toprope falls. our mind tends to think in "all or nothing" ways--never fall vs. taking 20-foot whippers. rather, find little ways to engage stressful situations. hanging on toprope and swinging around can be the first step in doing falling practice. as you do these "new" things, breathe, intentionally relax your body. doing this will help "rewrite" how you perceive the stress.
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third, you must value your learning process. your recovery and relearning of climbing skills will take longer than your mind wants it to. to deal with your mind's expectations you must stay curious to each outcome you produce. be excited about each effort you give and then look for what contributed to that outcome--was i breathing/holding breath, was i relaxed/tense, etc.
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fourth, be patient. this is your journey so you may as well enjoy each moment no matter how difficult it may seem.
arno


granite_grrl


Mar 13, 2007, 5:19 AM
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So I was at the gym last night again. I'm having a hard time trying to get the grades out of my head, but found when I could I enjoyed it much more. I worked out that small foot hold where my foot can slip are not my friends, but if I fell by loosing the grip with my hands its not too bad.

I managed to do one over hanging climb where I managed to concentrate on the climb and not falling. Probobly my best climb of the night. I'm going to try to remember how that felt and see if I can repeat that mentality on other climbs next time.


phillygoat


Mar 13, 2007, 7:53 AM
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Arno wrote: "first, i think you need to ground your motivation in what you want from climbing."

I think this is the key issue here, from my experience. My wife was just coming into her own as a competent lead climber willing to push herself when she took a bad fall by hooking her foot behind the rope. It was bad timing, to say the least, because now she associates the uncomfortable feelings of leading with her fall. She struggles with the same problem of "intellectual vs. emotional" when trying to cope with it.

The upshot of her fall is that we no longer climb on ropes together (bouldering's OK). There was/is a lot of frustration on both sides. For her, I suspect that it has to do with disappointment in herself for not being able to "shake it off", so to speak. Time and again she gets rattled- even at the gym, and it's immediately apparent that she's not having fun.

For me- while I admit that SOs can be notoriously bad climbing partners- I did everything I could think of to be encouraging. I offered to do anything she wanted: easy leads, set up a TR for her, clip the first few bolts, etc. Ultimately, I would get upset with the discrepancy between how she talked about climbing and how she acted. You see, she wanted to be 'over' her fall without putting in any work towards this goal. Each time we'd go climbing it's as if she wanted to just show up and magically be her old self.

Despite the cliche, I couldn't give a hoot if she leads again or not (or even climbs, for that matter). I think it boils down to what each of us values in climbing. Of course I'm not immune to the allure of grades, etc., but I value climbing so much that I understand that discomfort is part of the learning. Forgive the "faux-sage" tone of that last sentence. Put another way: I love it so much that I keep going! And I suspect you do too.

Keep the toolbox handy (intellectual know-how) so you can beat back the flood of all the useless emotions that are inhibiting your climbing. Best wishes!

phillip


arnoilgner


Mar 13, 2007, 10:26 AM
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your comment: "I'm having a hard time trying to get the grades out of my head, but found when I could I enjoyed it much more."
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take this statement as evidence that you can have more fun if you focus on climbing and not the end goals (grades). do you want climbing to be fun?
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your comment: "I worked out that small foot hold where my foot can slip are not my friends, but if I fell by loosing the grip with my hands its not too bad."
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why aren't small footholds your friend? ask what your motivation is. is it toward being comfortable or is it toward learning? small footholds that cause some stress and insecurity are learning opportunities. once you become more comfortable with small footholds you'll improve your skill and enjoy incorporating "small footholds" into your climbing. always ask: is my motivation grounded in comfort or learning? sure, we want to be comfortable. but...it is an indirect process. you gain that added comfort by going in and through uncomfortable situations.
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your comment: "I managed to do one over hanging climb where I managed to concentrate on the climb and not falling. Probobly my best climb of the night. I'm going to try to remember how that felt and see if I can repeat that mentality on other climbs next time."
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what do you mean by "best?" is it that everything came together and you felt more comfortable on it like you used to feel? don't try to replicate that feeling. the manifestation of that feeling is the result of other things you did with your body/mind. identify what you do with your body that resulted in that feeling. here's a clue: breathing, intentionally relaxing, continuous climbing (a little faster than you usually climb), pushing yourself a little (not a lot) into stressful climbing. if you haven't begun practicing falling then you are missing an important element of working through your fears. start on toprope just hanging there, swinging around. small increments...small increments...that allow you to engage and rewrite your perception of falling.
arno


granite_grrl


Mar 16, 2007, 8:19 AM
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I have started to come to some realizations over the past few days as to why climbing with my husband is is so stressful. The main thing is that I don't trust him. Not with safety, I don't trust him with my emotions. He has not done things that I've asked to make me more comfortable in the past, he hasn't made an effort to make me feel that I'm part of the group when we're out climbing.

The first few times we went out he completly shattered my confidence in him. After that there have been multiple times when I could have used someone there to talk me through a situation in climbing, but he was off doing his own thing.

We have since talked and about this and that I need to rebuild this trust. I want to stop feeling like I have to hide my fear or that its shameful. I think its something that needs to be akowledged and worked though. When I tell him how things he has done in the past has made me feel we start arguing about them. But I felt the way I felt, and you can't change the past.

What are some trust exercises that two people can perform when they're out climbing together? I understand that this will take its time to work through (its been two months since he has started doing things that made me uncomfortable) but I don't want us to start taking seperate vacations and trips because we can't climb together.

I also understand that this is something that is going to require the most work from me....I'm looking for ways to start this process.

Arno - a couple of replies to your comments. Small greasy foot holds can be hard because it really shocks my break and my hardwear it I slip off. I plan to try different shoes next time instead of my nasty slimey gym shoes that my feet sometimes slide in. By best climb of the night I mean the one I enjoyed the most. It was an overhang where falls don't frequently hurt and I was able to concentrate on the climb rather than my fear of falling from the route.

I am heading to the gym on Monday again, with a group I trust. I am starting to see what a complicated issue this is, but I will continue to try to learn.


arnoilgner


Mar 17, 2007, 12:18 AM
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hi granite_grrl,
your comment: What are some trust exercises that two people can perform when they're out climbing together? I'm looking for ways to start this process.
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every situation is a little different but here are some things to consider.
trust requires openness and acceptance. each of you must accept your present level of skill and each other's present level of skill. if he isn't accepting you as you are then that is going to be a problem. you can't demand that from others but you can express it. you can only control what you do. tell your significant other (SO for short) how you want to be suported. i hear people in gyms or climbing areas always yelling "you can do it. you've got it. etc". does this help? no. it is them projecting what they want onto the person climbing. or, they encourage by saying these things because they want the climber to get to the top. and when the climber doesn't get to the top they are all consoling by saying it doesn't matter. that's too confusing. rather, if you are really interested in helping someone then tell them something that will help them deal with the stress they are feeling while climbing. how about:
breathe,
what's next?,
are you resting or climbing?,
if you rest, rest,
if you're climbing, keep going.
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tell SO to support you this way. it will be something tangible he can say that is focused on what will help you climb.
you see, we all really don't value the learning process. all of that misleading coaching is destination oriented. yes, hurry up so you can get to the top so it will be over. you can begin developing trust by valuing learning more. the above will be ways SO can support you in your learning. see if he's interested. but, don't expect him to do it. that is his decision and he is in control of himself. you can't control what he does. just communicate what you need to be supported. that will begin trusting the process and each other.
perhaps this helps.
arno


havard


Mar 22, 2007, 2:18 AM
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in terms of encouragement, i find it more helpful with comments like looking good, nice move, and don't worry, the fall from there is clean. things like push on, you can do it, send it, stay focused etc don't give me anything.


granite_grrl


Mar 22, 2007, 4:47 AM
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Yeah, I think he forgets a lot of the time that the "don't be a pussy!" riling types of comments have a very adverse effect on me. I need positive, honest feedback.


havard


Mar 22, 2007, 9:55 AM
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sometimes, i manage to focus enough on the climb to not listen to the comments from the ground. i'm not always able to it, but i'm learning. when i manage to do it, i concentrate very hard on every move, like following my foot all the way to the hold, feeling up on the balance, maybe shift it a bit around to feel how it is, feeling the handholds for details, that sort of things. i find this almost impossible to do on (for me) easier climbs, and also difficult at my limit. the easiest is when i'm close to my limit, but not on it. i don't know if this is helpful for you in any way, but it helps me from time to time.

I read about your accident, and i'm glad you're ok and back climbing. i am not sure i would be able to after something like you experienced, so i figure you're a real tough one. i'm sure you will be able to work this through with your so, best of luck to you :)


arnoilgner


Mar 22, 2007, 11:56 AM
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Hello harvard. Your comment: "in terms of encouragement, i find it more helpful with comments like looking good, nice move, and don't worry, the fall from there is clean. things like push on, you can do it, send it, stay focused etc don't give me anything."
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I think you misunderstood what I said. Also, it depends if you value the learning process or just getting to the top of the route. I think granite_girl needs encouragement to stay focused in the moment and specifics on how to deal with the stress that comes with climbing, instead of being encouraged to get to the top. saying, "looking good, nice move, and don't worry, the fall from there is clean" do not help to deal with the stress that occurs in the moment. They tend to encourage one to reach some end goal, like the top. I was NOT encouraging her with "push on, you can do it, send it, stay focused." I choose my words very carefully and specifically so they would be action oriented to help engage her attention in the moment, on the process. Check my previous post to see what I listed for her SO to say.
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It boils down to whether we value the top of the route or the learning process. Right now her SO is encouraging her to reach the top and he gets frustrated by her having difficulty attaining what he thinks she should attain. I'm telling her to forget what SO wants for her. She needs to identify what she wants. And, she needs to get back in touch with the learning process so she can work through the trauma her accident caused her. I feel that if she applies what I suggest she will be more engaged in the learning process and that will move her beyond the accident.
Just some clarification.
arno


havard


Mar 23, 2007, 1:54 AM
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you are right, arno, i didn't read you correctly, thanks for clearing up :)


_fiend_


Mar 30, 2007, 5:14 AM
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Don't know if this has been mentioned but even so...

Mileage, lots of mileage, and mileage on stuff where you've got a lot of choice and it inspires you. That's what's always worked for me, getting in the flow of things doing relatively easy routes but having lots of them to choose from. Mainly from going to a new crag and a new area....that's most inspiring.


tradrenn


Aug 23, 2009, 10:16 PM
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Hey you.

I know, it's been a while but I'm just wondering how is your "trad climbing lead head" this days ?

What's it been, about 3 years now.

V.


granite_grrl


Aug 24, 2009, 3:56 AM
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tradrenn wrote:
Hey you.

I know, it's been a while but I'm just wondering how is your "trad climbing lead head" this days ?

What's it been, about 3 years now.

V.
I've been doing a little more trad leading this summer. While I got back to a couple of 5.9s at the Gunks, I found it was hard for me to push my self too hard in New Brunswick or in the New River Gorge this spring.

So still not quite back up to where I feel I was pre-accident, but I haven't really put the time into it either. All in all I'm happy.

We have to chat soon, you still working evenings?


tradrenn


Aug 24, 2009, 9:31 AM
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granite_grrl wrote:
tradrenn wrote:
Hey you.

I know, it's been a while but I'm just wondering how is your "trad climbing lead head" this days ?

What's it been, about 3 years now.

V.
I've been doing a little more trad leading this summer. While I got back to a couple of 5.9s at the Gunks, I found it was hard for me to push my self too hard in New Brunswick or in the New River Gorge this spring.

So still not quite back up to where I feel I was pre-accident, but I haven't really put the time into it either. All in all I'm happy.

We have to chat soon, you still working evenings?

Yes, but mostly 3 days a week.


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